The Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost — The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh

The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh

The Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost: October 21, 2018

Job 38:1-7, (34-41)  |  Psalm 104:1-9, 25, 37b
Hebrews 5:1-10  |  Mark 10:35-45

Preacher: The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh, Associate Rector of St. Michael’s Church

Christmas Eve, 1968 marked the close of one of the most turbulent, tragic years in American history. That night, millions around the world gathered to watch and listen as the Apollo 8 crew became the first humans to orbit another world – the moon.’[1]

As the crew emerged from from the dark side of the moon to see Earth rising over the horizon, the astronauts hurried to capture the image of this “lush world rising above a stark, lifeless lunar landscape.”[2] What had begun as a race to dominate and defeat the Soviet Union, became a humbling journey that marveled in the rare magnificence and beauty of our home planet.

Astronaut Jim Lovell stated, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring…it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.”[3]

The iconic photograph called “Earthrise,” transcended borders and boundaries, instilling a sense of wonder, awe and stewardship toward the planet.” [4]

Overnight, a single picture of home from above inspired and changed millions.

I wonder if this was how Job felt when God spoke out of the whirlwind.

Through God’s questions, we hear with Job God the Creator’s tale of the origins of life in the universe. As we listen, we with Job marvel at the rare magnificence and beauty of life unfolding in God’s hands. We too are awed by God’s love that transcends borders and boundaries – that cares for every creature.

Job is inspired and his life is changed. Like the earth rising, Job sees his own life rise above a bleak landscape of grief and suffering to connect with the whole of Creation. God gives Job a snapshot of something far greater than we can ever understand or imagine  and his life becomes deeper, richer, his problems infinitely smaller.

Job grows in faith and humility not because he endured unimaginable loss and suffering, but because he was able to journey beyond his own world of pain and grief to embrace God’s world – a world full of endless possibilities to create, to inspire, to transform even in the midst of turbulent, tragic times.

I wonder if this is what it felt like to be one of Jesus’ disciples. To journey with Jesus and be continually opened to seeing the world afresh through God’s eyes.

What an inspiring and challenging journey!

We see this in our gospel today as James and John demand Jesus to give them glory and greatness: “We want you to do whatever we ask of you…grant us to sit at your right hand and at your left in your glory.” Jesus refuses them the heavenly trophy seats and instead promises them a share in his cup and baptism. Power, grace, glory – James and John are thrilled! They don’t realize that sharing the cup of blessing means sharing the cup of suffering and sorrow; to share in Jesus’ baptism means their lives will be immersed in joy and times of trial and tribulation; life and death.

When jealousy, anger and divisions erupt in the group over who should be first and greatest, Jesus gently draws them back to God’s vision saying,

“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. But not so among you!…whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”[5]

Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God says, “I came to serve, not be served, to give my life for many.”

What humbling, inspiring, challenging words.

What would it look like to live in a world where servanthood is glorified above domination? Can you even imagine that world? Jesus could. And he invites us to hold that vision, to help make that world a reality in these turbulent tragic times.

To transcend borders and boundaries that divide, to lift up, inspire, and change the lives of those around us — even those on the other side or who think differently.

Tony Jarvis, one of my professors in seminary, writes, “love and prayer are all we have and all we need to have.”

This was not just something he said, this was the life he lived as servant of all.

He was the type of professor that would seek you out and support you. It didn’t matter if you were in his class, what you thought, what you believed, where you were on your spiritual journey…he was still there. He was one of the few priests that after forty plus years, still loved his ministry and loved even more those he served.

Daily Chapel was at 7:30 am. A half hour before service, Tony was on his knees (without a cushion) every day, praying for students, faculty, staff — for the whole community. Even if you weren’t in chapel, you knew that Tony was there praying for you. And after you graduated, you knew if you didn’t wake up that morning to do your prayers, he was there praying for you.

His love, service, but most of all his prayers stretched my spiritual imagination and gave me a glimpse of what it means to be a servant of God.

He says, “In my experience, strong and persistent love has the power to transform even the toughest and seemingly most unreachable…nearly every [person] surrenders to love. But, since we understand so little about someone else’s [life experiences]…and often don’t know how best to go about loving them, even more important than love is prayer….love and prayer are all we have and all we need to have.”[6]

This week, take a moment and give thanks for the people or experiences that have opened you to see and appreciate the world anew. If you feel stuck, the photo ‘Earthrise’ may be a good starting point.

Then, find someone in greater need than yourself – perhaps that tough, seemingly unreachable person in your life. Take time to reach out with love and prayers. Amen.

[1] NASA

[2] Nadia Drake, National Geographic

[3] NASA

[4] Emmanuel Vaughn Lee’s article in NY Times

[5] Mark 10:42-45

[6] With Love and Prayers: A Headmaster Speaks to the Next Generation by F. Washington Jarvis