|“What are you arguing about?” An ordinary and fascinating question. Who asks? Who tells? In families, in work places, in organizations, in churches. What is the tone? How does it make you feel?|
I am surprised to hear Jesus asking. Twice in Mark 9: “What are you arguing about?” Jesus came down from the mountain, where he had been transformed in front of Peter, James, and John. But the rest of the disciples were left to manage on their own. And it wasn’t going so well. When he had sent them out in pairs before, they had cast out many demons. Tested now in a large crowd with legal experts, they got nothing.
What, indeed, were they arguing about in such a situation? Who was to blame? What was God’s will? The proper procedure for exorcism? We wonder where the boy was during this discussion. Listening on the sideline? In a battle of egos, he is invisible.
Jesus calls for him. He ends that argument. Whatever it was. The boy is healed. But it doesn’t take long before another discussion arises. An internal dispute to keep them occupied on the road when they are confused about Jesus’ teaching and afraid to ask. Jesus told them that he is going to be killed and rise up after three days. They didn’t understand this kind of talk. No wonder.
“What are you arguing about?” No one wants to tell him. Because Jesus talks about his coming suffering while we squabble about who is the greatest. We each want to be first. We all want to be chosen to go up to the mountain. We want to be part of the inner group of twelve.
But Jesus reaches outside the circle. And takes another unseen child by the hand and places him in the middle. And hugs him. (Who do you want to be in the story now?!)
“Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all. Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me isn’t actually welcoming me but rather the one who sent me.” Matthew 9:35,37 (CEB)
In any group, in any organization, in any church. There are people that we don’t see, standing just outside the circle. The least. And there are people who are serving. Folks who are welcoming children, giving them space and attention.
We wonder about the criteria for various leadership positions. What is the job description? Who gets chosen and why? Jesus serves and suffers. That is his answer. And he asks us what we are arguing about.
Lord, help us to cease our striving for greatness and learn how to serve. Open our eyes to see those who are standing outside the circle. Teach us how to put others at the center, that you might dwell among us.
Order of Service: 2/24
Sermon: Learning Racial Justice -Romans 12:1-2