Proper 24 Year B (10/21/12)

10 Oct

Job 38:1-7,(34-41)

or  Track 2 Isaiah 53:4-12 & Psalm 91:9-16;

Hebrews 5:1-10

Mark 10:35-45

 

Psalm 104:1-9,25,37b

Bless the LORD, O my soul,

O Lord my God, how excellent is your greatness!

you are clothed with majesty and splendor.                                                                                                                                                    

 

Opening Question

  • If your job was to hire domestic servants for your client, what personality traits would you look for in prospective employees (in addition to their specific functional skill)?

Appointed Passages

Job 38: 1-7, (34-41)

1 Then the LORD answered Job out   of the whirlwind:

2 “Who is this that darkens   counsel by words without knowledge?

3 Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

4 “Where were you when I   laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.

5 Who determined its   measurements–surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?

6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone

7 when the morning stars sang   together
and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?

34 “Can you lift up   your voice to the clouds,

so that a flood of   waters may cover you?

35 Can you send forth   lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, “Here we are’?

36 Who has put wisdom in   the inward parts,
or given understanding to the mind?

37 Who has the wisdom to   number the clouds?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,

38 when the dust runs   into a mass
and the clods cling together?

39 “Can you hunt the   prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,

40 when they crouch in   their dens,
or lie in wait in their covert?

41 Who provides for the   raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God,
and wander about for lack of food?

{Comment: Job has complained about being treated badly by God and is asking why….to which God responds with these questions.  Ultimately, in verses 40: 4 & 5, Job realizes the futility of his attempt to rationalize his misfortune and does not answer the questions God has posed.}

  • What is the value in attempting to find reasons for our misfortune?
  • How might placing blame be helpful in this process?

Hebrews 5: 1-10

1 Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; 3 and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. 4 And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,

“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
6 as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchiz’edek.”

7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchiz’edek.

  • How does suffering teach obedience – particularly obedience to God?
  • How do we know which directions from God we are to obey?

Mark 10:35-45

35 James and John, the sons of Zeb’edee, 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.”

  • What differentiates a good leader (“ruler”) from a bad one (a “tyrant”)?
  • What criteria should determine how a good leader prioritizes the needs of the people served?
  • Why is it that a good leader should also know how to be a good follower (i.e., a “slave” v.43)?

Comment

I’m reminded of the last line of the Jaycee creed that was often quoted by my father in law.  “….and that service to humanity is the best work of life.”  He passed away several years ago, but I remember him as perhaps the best example of a man who lived that creed.  He was a funeral director (undertaker) in Missouri.  He had grown up relatively poor in West Virginia (West… “by God”…Virginia as he used to say).  He had learned the value of community and relationships, and also was someone who “never met a stranger” in that he was so immediately welcoming and engaging that everyone felt comfortable being with him.

But there was something deeper than that.  Beneath the warmth was substance.  He truly cared about people.  I had the good fortune to work with him a few times an experienced this care first hand.  I recall going on a “death call” with him one night.  Our task was to pick up the body of an elderly woman who had passed away in a local hospital.  What sticks in my mind was the look on Bill’s face as we approached the hospital bed where she lay.

He looked down at the face of the woman whom I suspect he knew personally, and his face was warm with compassion both for the woman, and her family.  He closed his eyes momentarily and while he did not say so, I suspect he made a brief prayer.  He gave a light stroke to her arm as if to say “peace be with you” before we transferred her to the gurney we brought to transfer her to the hearse and ultimately the funeral home.

That action and his demeanor showed me that he was not just doing a job, but was being of service.  I felt the difference and I know those around him did as well.  It taught me something that I’ve never forgotten in that such simple acts can mean so much.

My prayer for this week is that each of us take a single act of compassion that tangibly reminds us of the meaning we can find in our lives by being of service to others.

Quotes for Today:

The act of compassion begins with full attention, just as rapport does. You have to really see the person. If you see the person, then naturally, empathy arises. If you tune into the other person, you feel with them. If empathy arises, and if that person is in dire need, then empathic concern can come. You want to help them, and then that begins a compassionate act. So I’d say that compassion begins with attention.

Daniel Goleman

 

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

Proverbs 9: 10

 

We don’t get to know people when they come to us; we must go to them to find out what they are like.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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