SERMONS

For the birth of each of my kids, we enlisted the help of a doula, someone who in addition to the midwife, supports the mom as she is bringing new life into this world.

The anglicized word “doula” comes from the Greek doulos, which is the same Greek word behind the word “servant,” used by Jesus in today’s gospel. Contrasting the life of those who would follow God and Jesus with the rulers of the world who would “lord it over” others, Jesus says, “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10: 43)

In other words, if you would have others look at us and our lives and consider them to be remarkable, then we should, kind of like a birth doula, be learning how to serve others, supporting Christ’s new life work in and through them. This is the work of teachers lifting up students, parents and grandparents encouraging children, and teenagers reminding complacent adults that we need to keep working to change the things that are broken in the world. There is not one among us who will not find, this very week, that we have an opportunity – or many opportunities – in which Christ’s servant work (doula work) cannot help to encourage and bring forth new life that makes this world a better place, that makes someone’s life a better life.

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What are the priorities in our lives and how do we express them?

When the young man in today’s gospel lesson approaches Jesus, telling him that he has kept all the commandments, and asking Jesus what else he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus looks at him with love and tells him to go and sell all that he owns and then come back and follow him.

In other words, Jesus is saying, reorder your priorities. Don’t just live by your head and the letter of the Law, but with your heart, remembering who you are and remembering whose you are.

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“What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them?”Hebrews 2:6

God’s value of human beings is far greater than the value we sometimes give to one another. If we would learn to serve God, then we need to allow God through Christ to reset our value systems so that we can better see the world through God’s steadfastly loving and compassionate eyes.

A recent NPR headline read, “They Give To Others Even Though They Barely Have Enough To Feed Their Family,” and the accompanying story profiled people around the world who have fallen on hard times during the pandemic, yet still give to help others.

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There is so much hyperbole – exaggerated metaphors – in the warnings Jesus gives as part of his dialogue today, that our modern ears risk getting tangled in the metaphors and missing the meaning.

The disciples come to Jesus, like tattle-tale kids to a school teacher, to tell him about how they saw someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name and they tried to stop them, because they weren’t officially a Jesus follower.

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Humility and Wisdom. These can seem to be in kind of short supply these days. And they seem to have been in short supply even in Jesus’ day. Even amidst the disciples.

You might have noticed in our gospel lesson that while Jesus was telling the disciples about how he would humble himself to the point of letting himself be put to death, they weren’t even listening because they were so busy arguing over who was going to be the greatest among them.

So much for humility among the disciples! So much for wisdom.

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