21st Sunday after Pentecost (October 21, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 53:4-12; Ps. 91:9-16; Heb. 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45
This week we hosted three MCC Egypt staff, introducing them to the MCC programs in Jordan, Iraq and Iran. We visited several MCC partners — Orthodox Kindergarten in Ashrafiyeh, Holy Land Institute for the Deaf, Caritas Jordan and Arab Episcopal School – and met with Jordan alumni of the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP).
We also visited Jesus’ baptism site at the Jordan River. The Jordan is still a popular Christian pilgrimage site; a number of persons were being baptized during our visit.
Daryl celebrated his birthday with dozens of greetings from friends and a special dinner with the MCC Egypt team – and by running the Amman International Marathon. His goal was to break 5 hours and he finished with a time of 4 hours and 51 minutes. Ethiopian runner Mohammad Nori set a new course record of 2 hours 19 minutes and 39 seconds for the 26.2 mile (42km) race.
In the region this week:
- The Jordanian government announced that it will open a second Syrian refugee camp near Zarqa by the end of the year. Officials expect that 250,000 Syrians will be living in Jordan by year end.
- A car bomb blast killed 8 and wounded dozens in central Beirut, increasing fears that the violence from Syria may be spreading.
The Common Lectionary readings this week describe various aspects of honor.
In the Old Testament reading, Isaiah describes the suffering servant who is struck down, afflicted, wounded, crushed, oppressed, cut off and poured out for the well-being of humanity (Is. 53:4-12). For this reason, God chooses to honor the suffering servant, allotting him “a portion with the great.” (v.12a)
Through the psalmist, God promises to deliver, protect, answer, be with, rescue and honor those who make the Lord their refuge, satisfying them and showing them God’s salvation (Ps. 91:9-14).
The writer of Hebrews says that high priests are “put in charge of things pertaining to God” on behalf of humans (Heb. 5:1). “One does not presume to take this honor,” says the writer, “but takes it only when called by God.” (v.4) Because of his reverent submission to God, God honored him by making him the source of eternal salvation (v.9).
In the Gospel reading, James and John ask Jesus to give them the places of honor in his kingdom (Mk. 10:35-37). Jesus responds that this honor is not his to grant. However, “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant,” Jesus assures his disciples, “and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” (vv.43-44)
Honorable mention in God’s economy goes, not to the powerful, the wealthy and status seekers, but to those who fully submit to God and serve others. May we find our honor in this way.