October 15, 2018
By Diann Bailey.
Rev. Diann Bailey is the Associate Minister of Youth and Intergenerational Ministries at First Church of Christ in Suffield.
And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’?
“I want the front seat!” This was the frequent call of my two sons. Each was claiming their space in the car; to be upfront with mom and looking out the window. They wanted none of this backseat, second-hand view stuff. Whoever claimed, commandeered or earned the front seat considered themselves the “most favored child” status, at least for that trip.
When I read this passage, I think back to those childhood years. I offered unconditional love to each son; trying to lift up and affirm each of their unique gifts. And yet, it was never quite enough. When it came to who could sit in the front seat of the car….well, whichever son rode in the front seat was obviously the favorite (at least for that car trip).
James and John are asking a similar request of Jesus. After death, they want the preferred seat next to Jesus. They want a promise of glory, but they also want power. They have deserved it and want others to know of their faithfulness. They want to be advisors to Jesus on the throne; with no thought to the other ten disciples. After all the time they have been following Jesus, James and John have completely missed the point of his teachings.
However, Jesus turns things upside down (or better yet, right-side up). He dismantles the patronage system and flips the axis of power. James and John are not to “get the front seat” rather, they are to offer the front seat to those who are considered least worthy, and they are to take the back seat; explaining that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Those who think they are most worthy must take on the role of servant and work to elevate those who are considered unworthy.
In today’s world of individualism and the self-made person, this is a tough nut to swallow. However, it is through our Baptism that we are offered the gift of Grace. The Spirit comes to guide us and form us into beings who are pointed toward this servant life. We should not expect to be served, rather, we are to become Christ’s servants. We are to die to our own selves; our egos, our pride, and our individualism. We are to give up our comfortable places in society, our complacency, to seek out and serve those who are most vulnerable. We must also look at the ways that our own lives affect the lives of others and make significant changes. We are to elevate others above ourselves, even if that means we must give up our comfortable “front seat”.
Holy God, through your Grace and with the guidance of your Spirit, help us to give up our comfortable seats and offer them to others who are in greatest need. AMEN
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Church of Winsted, UCC
Wolcott Congregational Church
The First Church of Christ, Woodbridge
First Congregational Church of Woodbury UCC
North Congregational Church, UCC
This Week in History:
Oct. 21, 1959 (59 years ago): The Guggenheim Museum opens in New York City. Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who died 6 months before the museum opened, the oddly shaped building itself is considered a work of art. Today, nearly 1 million people visit the museum each year
Starting With Scripture: October 15, 2018 , by Diann Bailey.