Proper 24 (October 18, 2009)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 53:4-12; Ps. 91:9-16; Heb. 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45
This week we used free technology to connect MCC staff from Iraq, Jordan and Palestine for a one-hour teleconference! Each staff member share about a project they find to be exciting, as well as a situation they are struggling with.
October 15 was the deadline for partners to submit ideas for projects that might be funded from special MCC accounts set aside for peace, water and HIV AIDS projects. We received nearly a quarter million dollars worth of excellent proposals!
On Thursday, Cindy attended the 2nd Annual Conference for Episcopal Women in the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East, where Princess Basma spoke on the importance of inter-faith dialogue and understanding. Cindy is quoted in a news article about this event.
As an example of how seriously Jordan is taking religious intolerance, the State Security Court this week imposed jail sentences of 15 to 20 years on 12 Jordanians found guilty of attacking a church last year.
On Saturday, Daryl celebrated his 54th birthday by running the first Amman International Marathon, finishing in 4 hours 40 minutes. Nearly 12,000 persons signed up for one of three races – 4.2K, 10K or full marathon — as part of a series of events commemorating Amman’s 100 years as capital of Jordan. Temperatures were in the 90s – definitely not ideal for marathons!
Of significance to the region this week, U.N. human rights leader Navi Pillay endorsed the Goldstone report and called for both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to investigate the report’s allegations that war crimes were committed during the January 2009 military action in Gaza.
The Common Lectionary readings this week are about serving one another — living our lives in the interests of others.
In the Old Testament reading, Isaiah describes how God’s suffering servant offered his life for the benefit of others. He has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases (Is. 53:4); was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (v.5a); was punished so that we could be made whole (v.5b); bore the sins of many and made intercession for transgressors (v.12).
The psalmist writes that God will: “command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (v.91:11); deliver and protect us (v.14); answer those who call (v15a); be with us and rescue us in times of trouble (v.15b); satisfy us and (v.16a); show us God’s salvation (v.16b).
In the Epistle reading, God’s chosen high priest “is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness” (Heb. 5:2). As the ultimate high priest, Christ learned obedience through what he suffered . . . and became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (v.9).
In the Gospel reading, Jesus’ disciples argue over who will have the positions of honor in God’s kingdom. Jesus tells them that “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark.10:43b-44).
We live in a world where people pursue self-interests and countries invest their treasures in pursuit of national security and economic interests. The radical call of God – modeled most completely in Christ – is to look beyond our own interests and to consider the interests of others. Let this be our aim.