Lent V, 2024

The end of Lent and the three holy days of our Lord’s Passion speedily approach. Know that I pray for all of you who are preparing services and sermons. The world may not value what you do, but trust me, God does, I do, and the people of your parish also value and need what you are doing.

This Sunday we get the summation of Lent’s themes. We have heard that Jesus conquers our foe, calls us to cross-bearing, and that all this is borne of God’s love for the world. This week Jesus gives us, in Mark 9, the great summation of His work: he has come as the servant of all. I think sometimes we hear his urging to be great in the kingdom of God first as a call for us to serve. It surely is just such a call to serve, but first it is a description of our Lord Jesus. He is the greatest, the Lord of the Cosmos, the creator, ruler, and sustaining force of all that is. Yet, he made himself the servant of all by dying for every human being that has ever lived. He is the One of whom He speaks first. Our service, our humble stooping to give the cup of water to a child in Christ’s name, that work only happens because Jesus has done this.

If you have been listening to Paul the past several weeks, you have heard him again and again, (Romans 5, Ephesians 2, et. al) deny us any boast. Instead, our real boast is always in Christ. That boast in the Romans context was always connected to greatness. If we would be great in the kingdom, we must be empty of ourselves that only He remains. Our real boast, our honest boast, is always in Jesus.

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