This is a draft of a post I was going to publish in September. There are some thoughts here that, though no longer current, are worth archiving.
I am one week behind on the lectionary. So this week I am studying up on Mark 9:30-37. I am finding a lot of good stuff there. I am also trying out a new sermon prep process. Well, it’s not new. I dreamed it up months ago, but have allowed myself so much busyness that I haven’t yet implemented it. This process is a lot more thorough and study oriented. One thing my counselor and I discussed was the authority that comes with the pulpit. There is a certain power that comes with entering the pulpit well-informed. For me, the quality of the sermon is usually indicative of the work I do on it on Monday and Tuesday.
So today, I am reflecting and analyzing my thoughts, beliefs and understandings of greatness. This was the secret topic that the disciples were discussing as they followed Jesus from Galilee to Capernaum. I thought, you know, my churches don’t really think that they are great. If anything, they have an inferiority complex. They wonder if the glory days are ever coming back, if such and such is ever coming back, if they are worth anything. They wonder why God’s church could be so poor and so few. I wonder if they wonder if God has judged them. The decline has been a slow devastation to them. It’s like an earthquake hit the church but took 25 years to knock everything over. There is a certain “what’s happened?” psychosis. So how does the attitude displayed by teh disciples speak to the attitude of the church?
I seem to have found differing sides of the same coin. There is no greatness without validation. Greatness is validated by her admirers. A great artist may know he/she is talented, insightful and unique. But it is the ooooh and ahhhh of the reveal that stamps the ticket. I give the disciples credit for wanting their validation. Yes, they had given up a lot to follow Jesus. They were really, really nice blokes, even closing in on “virtuous”. So it is without mystery that their desire for greatness was a topic of discussion. In an equal but opposite vein, a church that has deteriorated for 25 years must naturally wonder if God is still calling them. Are we just a club, or does the living God have a use for us? We still gather here, pray here, look for meaning here. Does God’s purposes apply here, yet? I am hearing a certain pining in these questions, a certain yearning for validation…even validation from God.