No favourites here

It’s not enough to say – “everyone is equal before God”

not enough because we have gone to great lengths to prove that statement false.

Easier to say, perhaps, that “some are more equal than others” – this, we can verify.

We are not ready to see one another equally – in spite of some excellent progress –

because we always seem ready to play favourites – always ready to add a feather to our own cap.

Don’t get me wrong – most of the time, we get along just fine.

We appreciate one another’s strengths – support one another in weakness –

there is such a great need for skills and service within our communities and our organizations

that we can always find a task to suit someone’s particular gift – to make them feel included, needed – like they belong.

But we stop short at real equality.

We are caught up in priority – in “who should be first”

because we need people who can lead, and having found them, we ascribe to them

status that is beyond their station – power and influence that does not always reflect their gifts.

We see this in athletics – in business – in politics – and of course, in the church.

I say of course because the church is made up of people –

people who, while they should know better – should act differently –

often don’t.

How could we be any different that those first disciples?

James and John – they weren’t called the ‘sons of thunder” for nothing

bold – opinionated – eager for the kingdom – and eager, it seems,

to rise to the top of this new, exciting movement of God’s people.

Too eager, perhaps…

“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

that question does not bother Jesus, nor should it bother us.

These are Jesus’ friends, and friends should be willing to do anything for one another –

so ask you question, Jesus says.

“Put us on your left and right when you come in glory.”

there is the request that rankles…

James and John assume that God’s kingdom will look like any other kingdom – that there will be a need for someone to “take charge”…

To James and John, Jesus says simply – that’s not my decision.

But when hurt feelings start to show, and the other disciples start to grumble

Jesus goes back to his real message – the last shall be first; they have heard that before –

what Jesus has been trying to tell them – to show them – is that there are no favourites in God’s plan.

So what does a kingdom of equals look like?

How does a community choose leaders without making favourites?

If we’re must live among systems that routinely place one over another,

how can we make room in those systems for the things of God?

Jesus answer is service.

Each serves the other – and the greatest will be the slave of all.

Quite a proposal, but it is one that we are called to accept, as disciples of Christ.

In the Presbyterian Church in Canada,

following this model means our courts- except session –

are composed of equal numbers of teaching elders (ministers) and ruling elders.

The leaders of those courts are called moderators –

they cannot vote, they can only moderate the discussion.

People don’t seek these positions as signs of their success,

they are called to them, after a period of discernment,

by a process that considers their gifts and the needs of the court (or congregation).

in St Andrew’s church, Westville – following Christ’s model of service

has lead you to open your doors to various community groups;

This idea of service has challenged you to minister to families who grieve.

Christ’s call to serve has enabled you to come together for work parties –

to engage in a new and exciting Sunday School curriculum,

to show hospitality to one another at the meet & greet through the long winter months,

and to undertake the search for a new minister.

The goal in all this is service –

our collected wisdom serves the gathered people of God and seeks always God’s glory.

Our gathered gifts fund ministries here and across the globe that fill desperate needs.

The strong support the weak – the gifts of all are shared for the good of all –

and through these several, unselfish acts of service, the kingdom of God comes here among you.

That is the community we shall always seek to be –

equal in our sharing, equal in our curiosity, equal in our wonder before God

if we truly want to see that kingdom come,

we will keep finding way to honour others above ourselves.

We will keep searching for projects that invite –

for opportunities to practice hospitality –

for the joy that comes in sharing those strengths that make us who we are,

in ways that honour our neighbours needs .

To do this is to serve Christ – who came only seeking to serve us.

May our service bring us joy – and may our joy bring God glory, honour and praise – amen.

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