Pentecost 22 – October 21, 2018

Rev. Lyle McKenzie       Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria
Job 38:1-7, 34-41  / Psalm 104:1-9,24, 35b / Heb. 5:1-10 / Mark 10:35-45

God is God, greatest, first, as Job hears. People serve, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and today again, and I don’t hear anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

The Truth and Reconciliation Committee met on Monday preparing for the dialogue, gathering more resources, building on new relationships, expanding beyond our congregation, serving truth and reconciliation… and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

Tuesday’s Perk-Me-Up, serving elders and their support of one another, sharing stories and memories together… and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

Wednesday’s meeting with Luther Court and Church of the Cross, negotiating a partnership agreement for a possible development of affordable, inter-generational housing together, to serve the housing need, sharing land, suites for students and elders, and parking… and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

Wednesday’s Wine before Supper at UVic, serving a growing community of students gathering for contemplative song, reflection and communion together, led by ecumenical partners; followed by a meal, a giant pot of soup made this week by someone in this congregation, the week before and next from another community, to feed the students and all of us who gather in body and spirit… and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

And a Victoria Multifaith Society Board meeting, volunteer members serving to facilitate greater cooperation among faith communities, in learning, relationship building and common service, open to hearing a presentation about the Shelbourne Community Kitchen and how they may support and encourage multi-faith involvement in the Kitchen… and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

A Thursday breakfast meeting to give final feedback and evaluation of last summer’s Anglican Lutheran National Worship Conference in Victoria, the dedicated Lutheran and Anglican co-chairs, all the hard work, creative work, cooperative work, relational work, to serve a fine conference and to support worship that is vital and life giving in times of disaster and at all times in congregations and ministries across the country and beyond… and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

A 12:30PM welcome at Victoria’s airport to another Syrian refugee family sponsored by this congregation together with a community partner group, Osama, Fatima and their children Hasan, Maher and Hamza, now safely in Victoria, thanks be to God; and another Syrian family on the same flight, sponsored by St. Aidan’s and Oak Bay United and the Victoria Mosque, also safely in Victoria, thanks be to God again!… and I didn’t hear of anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

A Truth and Reconciliation Dessert and Dialogue, with Tsartlip Elder Fraser welcoming the more than forty congregation and community people who gathered, with guests, Dr. Penny Bryden from the UVic Department of History, City of Victoria Councillor Chris Coleman, and Executive Director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, Ron Rice, who thoughtfully and honestly spoke about the challenging questions and concerns around the removal of the J. A. McDonald statue from Victoria City Hall, and the larger issues of the history of residential schools, indigenous peoples and settlers in Canada, including very personal stories of suffering and pain, and the needs and possibilities for relationships and justice and peace together… all served with plenty of dessert and time for conversation… and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

On Friday a 100th Birthday Party for Ruth, a beloved elder of this congregation, a few people from here gathered with her, and as I stopped at the church for communion supplies. Jeanie sent me a text message saying, “I think she’s leaving us.” I rushed over and everyone was seated around Ruth’s bed, she was unresponsive when they arrived, although she began to open her eyes and move a little as we talked. We sang Happy Birthday and someone suggested we sing some hymns. And so we sang, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “Abide With Me,” “I am a Sunbeam?” and “Beautiful Saviour.” We noticed Ruth was beginning to rouse and respond. And so we decided to celebrate Holy Communion together. As we prayed and read from the Bible, and spoke the responses, Ruth was able to respond and she shared in Holy Communion with all of us, and one of the care volunteers and a Doctor joined us as well. There was cake, and so we sang Happy Birthday again and Ruth was fully aware and present enjoying the party with us. And then her two sons arrived, shocked to find her awake and partying, asking “What happened?”  having been with her in the morning when she was unresponsive, unlike their visits the day before. She enjoyed greeting her sons, chocolate cake – her favourite, and greeting her niece when she arrived and opening cards and gifts. It was a great 100th Birthday party full of life and joy!… and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

Yesterday was the funeral for Barry, with wonderful words spoken by his family, Louise Rose playing a Jazz/Gospel tribute, great hymns we sang together accompanied by Carolyn, good and hopeful words of the Bible, from Ecclesiastes about a time for everything, the Good Shepherd Psalm and the words of the Prophet Micah,” to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” All good and right for Barry, as were the good and deep words of commendation and blessing, and for all of us gathered together. And people were cared for and hosted, greeted and welcomed, served and supported by this community, as it does particularly well for families gathered for the funerals of their loved ones…

(I think it was Murray and Janice’s third of four events they served together with others this week, with the reception following worship this morning being one more!) but still… I didn’t hear anyone asking for a place of privilege, who will be first or who’s the greatest.

Jesus call and invitation, even in the face of his disciples asking for a place of privilege, and struggling over who will be first or who’s the greatest, which we can fall into as well, is to serve. That is our calling individually and together. And this is our life as a community and this is what I see in you as followers of Jesus. And we see the fruits of this service by God’s grace in the care and wellbeing of people and this earth in the Spirit of Jesus, “who came not to be served, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many.”

As Job hears, God is God, greatest, first, and that frees and commits us to service. And when we follow Jesus in service to others and to God, a place of privilege, or who will be first or who’s the greatest, just doesn’t matter. Let it be so, in all our relations, Amen.