Mark 10:35-45 (NRSV)
Verse 35James 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." Verse 36And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" Verse 37And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." Verse 38But 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?" Verse 39They 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; Verse 40but 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."
Verse 41When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. Verse 42So 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. Verse 43But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, Verse 44and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. Verse 45For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."
My great grandfather was a pastor at a large church in Richmond, VA, as well as a beloved bishop for many years. He was well known throughout the community. One day as he was working outside in his old worn-out gardening clothes, without his clerical collar, an elderly neighbor asked if he would help her weed her gardens. He said he would love to. After he was bent down on one knee toiling away for several hours, the woman walked over to him more closely to thank him. As she got closer, she realized who it was and was mortified. “I am so sorry” she apologized. My great grandfather told her that there was nothing that gave him more joy in life than serving his neighbors. He was a follower of the One who came not to be served but to serve others. May each of us serve others today with passion and joy.
Jesus, you are the great gardener who plants seeds of hope in each of our lives. Give us courage to serve the way that you serve, forsaking power and privilege for self-giving love. Remind us of our baptism, whose waters provide life-giving nourishment for all of your creation. Amen.