Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pentecost 17 B - Mark 9:30-37

Mark 9:30-37
On Christmas Eve 1988 I attended worship in the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, England. I sat somewhere in the middle of the second longest nave in the world that houses the largest pipe organ in the United Kingdom. The organ lived up to its reputation while over a thousand voices sang “O Come All Ye Faithful” and choirs and cantors and canons processed down the center aisle with considerable pomp and circumstance. At the very end of the liturgical parade, resplendent in garments of gold and crowned with jeweled miter while leaning on an ornate shepherd’s crook, the bishop of Liverpool walked with a small child in his arms. December 24, 1988 is by far my favorite Christmas Eve ever but I’m guessing the bishop of Liverpool carrying a borrowed baby is not what Jesus meant by “whoever wants to be first must be last…” I don’t mean to disparage that experience but the truth is the institutional church has not only pursued power but on far too many occasions has been consumed by it. I think the current crisis of declining participation in the life of faith in the church is due to the lack of faith people have in the life of the church. And even if we embrace and live into being last our sinful nature will likely turn it into a strategy for being first. The good news is that resurrection is always on the other side of death and that even if wonderful spaces like the Cathedral of Liverpool were to crumble into dust the faithful people who created such spaces have already been built into living stones. (1 Peter 2:5)

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Excellent post. The church has lost its way because we too have lost our way. Few of us ever choose to be last in anything. We are consumed with ambition, with being right and comfortable, yet encounter a Gospel that asks us to be anything but those things. I know that the Gospel and it's author is authentic because it is so very different, so very unworldly, yet somehow compelling.