Our minister Rev. Trevor Dixon led our worship at Wesley Chapel on Sunday October 18th. Worship began as we sang ‘Great God your love has called us here.’ Trevor led the prayers of adoration, praise, and confession before we sang, ‘Jesus is Lord. Creation’s voice proclaims it.’ We then heard the readings from Isaiah 53.4-12 and Hebrews 5.1-10 before we sang, ‘I will sing the wondrous story.’ Trevor read the gospel from Mark 10.35-45 before the sermon.
Trevor’s wife, Christine, was watching people walking up and down the train carriage and noticed the second person she had seen with a poppy; she realised it would soon be disposed of. That made Trevor think of putting memories in a bottle as we do; next time it will be forgotten. He thought of Woodbine Willie, who felt he had let people down; his real name was Geoffrey Anketell Studdert-Kennedy; he wrote the poem, Patience and the first verse expressed his desire to make a difference:
‘Sometimes I wish that I might do
Just one grand deed and die,
And by that one grand deed reach up
To meet God in the sky.’
Jesus was the model of patience, perseverance and the servant giving us the example. There was a desire to see the final picture when they got there. They wanted a share in the prizes to be handed out. That was a problem for James and John. In Matthew’s gospel it was Salome their mother who had asked for her sons to have a privileged position in Jesus’ Kingdom. Here Mark had James and John ask the question about whether they could sit on Jesus’ right and left in his Kingdom; just after Jesus had given the 3rd prediction of his coming passion and death. The reaction of James and John was an off the top of the head reaction of young men, who wondered what would happen for them after it was all over. There was no trace of anger in Jesus’ response; it was measured and calm, when he asked them if they could drink from his cup of baptism. The early church reflected the story of Jesus’ passion and death. Jesus meant by Baptism; the Baptism unto death and new life. Originally Baptism was an adult experience, which came at a cost with the threat of persecution. Jesus faced Jerusalem and the coming suffering and death awaiting him there. Mark’s gospel would have prepared the early church for suffering and persecution. It was not a vague prediction but persecution would happen!
In the early church the whole family of believers would be baptised, so all the family would be exposed to the same cup of suffering. We share together in Christian community as we share Jesus’ suffering and death with the world. Here we live a world away from Palestinian refugee camps, the assassination of people like Oscar Romero and the suffering all over the world today in war torn areas and persecution of Christians wherever terrorists gain sway. Jesus tried to warn his disciples of the reality of human violence. The sacrificial lamb described in Isaiah must have inspired Jesus in his role as the servant Messiah. Jesus served in obedience to God even to death on the cross and carryed humanity’s guilt with him. The servant in Isaiah could not achieve glory without obedience to the Lord.
Hebrews described true priesthood as not from being a descendant of the priestly clan but because of obedience to God; Jesus became salvation for all who obeyed. We should feel solidarity with Christians all round the world who are suffering when we suffer. We should not be complacent and feel sure we have booked seats in heaven! We should not go around saying we are saved so our place in heaven is secure!! God, as he reached into the world showed us the costliness of grace; to attain glory we first need to journey through suffering. We are called to engage in the ministry Jesus began, following his example for our Christian living. We are strengthened by the risen Christ, who is with us constantly bringing peace and joy as we travel with him. When we respond to his call and follow Jesus on the journey we are not to look for a royal box in his kingdom but just keep going with him along the way.
We sang, ‘From heaven you came, helpless babe’ before Trevor led the prayers of intercession and the Lord’s Prayer. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Go to the world! Go into all the earth!’