Looking for spiritual refreshment? God Pause email devotions are short, meaningful reflections on the following Sunday's lessons and gospel delivered directly to your email box. By Sunday, you'll be ready for an extra meaningful worship experience. 

Our devotion writers are Luther Seminary alumni. Their reflections are a gift to you and to the church.


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Thursday, October 18, 2012

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I've got siblings. I get where James and John are coming from.

"I've got it," five voices would yell, pouncing on the phone's receiver, each hoping to be the first to answer it. "Front!" we'd scream when it was time to load up the van, as if being the first to call "front seat" magically kept everyone else away. Did James and John just make calling "dibs" biblical?
It is not biblical, but it is human nature. We are forever competing. We always have categories going through our heads. We rank ourselves according to others around us. Whether we admit it or not, we all compare ourselves to others. No category is off limits—cars, homes, clothes, beauty, biblical knowledge, service hours, church attendance. We hope we're good enough to be "in."

Jesus turns all of this upside down. There is no "in." We have to be willing to give up on place and ranking. The one who wants to be great, Jesus says, must be a servant.

Lord, create in me a heart that is willing to be second, to celebrate the success of my sibling, and to serve the “least of these” in your kingdom. Amen.

Sara Spohr
Southwood Lutheran Church, Lincoln, Neb.
Master of Divinity , 2005

Mark 10:35-45 (NRSV)

35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."

36 And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?"

37 And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."

38 But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"

39 They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;

40 "but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.

42 So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.

43 "But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant,

44 "and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.

45 "For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

This week's devotions are offered by a Luther Seminary alumnus from the graduating class of 1998.