Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost: Week of October 17, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Loving God, through the life of Jesus you draw us closer to you. Bless those who work hard to serve others, and remind us that we are called to be servants, too. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is TURN. When we turn towards following Jesus, we also turn ourselves toward loving and serving our neighbor. Who are some people you know that model what it means to serve others? How can you thank them for their service?
Adult and Small Child
Read: Mark 10:35-45
Reflect: A servant is someone who helps other people. It’s some peoples’ job to serve other people. For example, the waiters who bring you food at a restaurant. Others work as nurses in hospitals or they teach other people. Some people serve others by the things they do in their free time. Maybe they volunteer at a soup kitchen or spend time with friends and family who are lonely.
Jesus tells his followers that the greatest thing they can do is to serve. Especially if it comes from your heart. It’s nice to have people help you, but it’s even better to help others. You’ve probably helped other people in your family clean up a mess or cook a meal. Think about a time you helped someone. Did it make your heart feel good, like it was full?
Jesus came to help other people. He came to love them and teach them to love each other. That’s what he spent his whole life doing. Jesus wants us to be servants, too, just like he was. And we do that by loving others and being kind to our friends, and family, and neighbors.
Respond: What are some ways you can serve other people? Think of some things you can do for friends or family members. Draw pictures or have someone write them down. Now choose one thing you’d like to do for another person. Maybe you’d like to let your sibling play with your favorite toy, or help an adult clean up after a meal. Go do it as soon as you can.
- Jeremiah Sierra
Adult and Elementary
Read: Mark 10:35-45
Reflect: James and John are sons of Zebedee – which, in Greek, means thunder. When I think of them as the “thunder-boys,” I imagine them big and commanding, used to getting their own way. They ask Jesus for what they think will be places of honor. They want to sit at either side of him when he comes into power. But Jesus corrects them. His mission and purpose is one that only he can live – he knows even now that he must be crucified.
When the rest of the disciples hear what’s happened, they get mad at the thunder-boys. Jesus has to remind them that greatness isn’t measured by who’s the best, but by who is willing to serve others.
The disciples have to learn to turn towards Jesus, practicing again and again what he’s taught them. Even after listening to him all the time, they get caught up in ideas of power, and coming in first place. Does that happen to you? How can you turn towards Jesus? How can you turn yourself away from greatness and into serving?
Respond: Find a way you can
serve someone. Maybe this is a neighbor – helping to rake leaves, or mow a
lawn. Maybe you can serve a sibling by helping them with homework, or doing a
chore for them. In some way, put the needs of someone else above your own, and
learn that following Jesus isn’t about being the best but about loving people.
Practice turning back to Jesus by being a servant.
- Jazzy Bostock
Adult and Youth
Read: Mark 10:35-45
Reflect: Have you ever asked a teacher what you needed to do to get a good grade? That’s a pretty normal thing to do, right? James and John wanted to be the best, so they asked their teacher what they should do. But Jesus surprises us. Jesus doesn’t want us to be the most impressive, he wants us to care for each other.
Jesus said that the people we see every day serving others— essential workers— are great among us. The people washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, preparing food, clearing trash. These people are caring for their communities, making them a better place for everyone to live. There’s no way around it: we live in a world that likes awards and accomplishments, and sometimes we feel embarrassed by messy jobs. Even in churches, we’re more likely to ask about report cards than whether someone picked up litter, or say “next” to a lonely classmate. Who in your life is a good example of service? What are some opportunities you see to help care for your community?
Respond: When we re-orient ourselves towards God, we turn away from chasing approval and turn toward Jesus’ priorities. Pope Gregory of Nyssa talked about how different people need to hear different sermons, and this feels like one of those times. Make a list of the ways you help make the world a better place. Place it somewhere you can look at it each day. When you are elbow-deep in drudge work: thank you. You are serving like Jesus, and I pray you feel a special closeness with him. When you are in a season of being admired and respected: I hope that you will notice those around you working in less-fun ways to make your community a better place, and that you follow their leadership.
- Di McCullough
Adult and Adults
Read: Mark 10:35-45
Reflect: A serving spoon, an ice cream scoop, and a spatula. What do these items have in common? They are all serving utensils used to make the host’s job easier. In this text, we are reminded that Jesus comes to serve God’s people. In the words of the well-known Scripture John 3:16-17: God sent God’s Son into the world not to save the world, but in order that we may have eternal life through him. And as Jesus is called to serve, we are called to follow Jesus’ example to serve one another. Serving one another is bringing a meal to a grieving family or to new parents. Serving one another is helping an elderly neighbor shovel their sidewalk after a blizzard. Serving one another is a way for us to show God’s love, grace, and mercy with the world as we welcome all to the holy table.
Respond: Turn! Where could you volunteer to donate your time and/or energy? Call a local food pantry and ask if they have a need for volunteers. Volunteer to help them distribute their items. Ask your community of faith to collect canned goods or donations to be shared with your food pantry. You could also spend time with residents at a local nursing home/assisted living facility. Play lawn games with them. After volunteering, reflect on how helping serve your neighbor made you feel. Made them feel? To finish out this exercise, make a list of other places you could volunteer and serve your neighbor. For example, serving a Thanksgiving meal at a local homeless shelter.
- Tara Ulrich