Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:1-12
We just returned from a wonderful although short trip to New York City. I had some meetings to attend, but in our free time we strolled the streets, taking in the holiday decorations, watching the crowds in Grand Central and thoroughly enjoying everything. The sights and sounds are amazing and the crowds overwhelming at times. So many people in such a hurry going so many places. Some are so important and busy that the jump over homeless people ling in their way and push past the elderly and those who walk more slowly than they do. So man people dressed to the nines, rushing and anxious, I wondered if there was enough important things in the world to take up their time. It was a great trip, with good conversations and I was glad to come home to the quiet humble space we inhabit.
Jesus had been raked over the coals by the temple leadership and the religious authorities. They paraded around, flaunting their importance and their power, and rarely noticed those who were lying on the street in pain, or those who needed their help. They were very busy, and had sacred knowledge and needed to be self-protective and above the world. And to all of their pomposity Jesus invites us to hear that those who would lead must serve. Those who would follow him must be humble, noticing the overlooked, the outcast, stopping and leaning in to be with the rejected and the scorned. God's reign is not for those who wear fancy clothes and be set apart. God invites us into the midst of the pain and messiness of the world instructing us to serve right where we are, without airs or attitude, powerless and unprotected. In this place we will see and know God's real glory.
Today ask God to help me to walk humbly today, to choose words and actions that serve others, and to live among the neediest of the world. May my heart be so moved and motivated by those around me that I know it a privilege to serve as Jesus served, to be rejected as he was, and to see God's grace in the weakest and the lowly. May we all use our time in service of others, so that through us, God's light might shine into our dim world.