Mark 10:35-45 by Rev. David Banks
2009-10-14 by David Banks

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."

Me First! I love spending time at the local elementary school.  Watching the children at play, in class and when they think no one is looking is truly priceless. When recess is over, there is this mad dash to be first in line. The kids that get "it", in my opinon, play as long as they can and are contend to be in the back of the line. Recently I watched as two kids asked a teacher to tell them when it was close to lining up. You guessed it, they wanted to be first. In fact, their desire to be first caused them to miss out on a chunk of priceless play time.  The story doesn't end there. You see, there are also the kids who try to make their way to the front of the line anyway. And I am here to tell you that behavior doesn't necessarily change. Two nights ago, Monday, October 12, 2009, I watched as grown men and women did the same thing at a U2 concert.They all wanted to be the closest they could to the stage. The concert was all about them.

For James and John, they are doing the same thing the children and adults do, they are saying "Me First." Think about a couple of things here. First of all, James and John are asking to be First at the table, front row. And secondly, James and John are thinking more about the end of the show, than the beginning. Being spat on, humiliated, crucified, these are the things Jesus had been saying all along, yet following it up with the heavenly vision of eternity. They want to be in charge too. And before we are too hard on these two, read a little more.

"When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John."
Right, they really are no different, they are probably just mad they didn't thik of it first. BUt Jesus is Jesus and he did His bes to straighten everyone out.  The first will be last and the last will be first. You've, no doubt, heard this before, but, like the disciples, you still clammer to be first. If you really want to be first, take the cup. Please. And as you do, when things are a little rough, remember what God said to Job in Chapter 38, "Gird up your loins". In other words man up, you asked for it.

An intersting compare/contrast will be Job 38:1+/Mark 10:35-45/Hebrews 5:1-10. Work in the image of the gift of faith(what James and John wanted) with the cost(How rough discipleship can be) and put a nice bow of encouragement from Job 38:1-7(34-41).

Job 38:1-7, (34-41) by Rev. David Banks
2009-10-14 by David Banks

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me."  

Have you ever heard God say "Man up?" Maybe you have, maybe you haven't, but rest assured, He has said it to you.  As a kid playing footbal in Jr. High and High School, I cannot tell you how often those words were spoken in some fashion or another. Now over 20 years later, I can still hear the words.  In fact, I say these very words, in one form or another, to myself. At least I did today. More often than not, it is because I am not trudging through new territory or trying to do something that hasn't already been done before. It is time for me to enter the human race, literally and figuratively.  How about you? Have you ever thrown your own pitty part to find out that it is pointless, fruitless and even unwarranted?  The truth is, this passage has very little to do with the pitty party Job is crying about.  And equally so, I don't thik it is so much about the magnitude of God. The gem, the nugget for us to take to the bank is this-God answered.

In the midst of Job's ceaseless whining, God responds. God aknowledges Job as well as Job's place. Mind you, this interaction has more about setting Job back in the spot where he needs to be, but, God responds nonetheless.
"don't question me, I'm the one who questions you." Sounds remarkably like a parent and a child interacting doesn't it? A parent that cares, that loves, that protects. If Job was nothing, would God have responded at all?

There's help for your sermon this week...
2009-10-14 by David Howell

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Rev. David Banks Blogging for the Week of Oct 18th
2009-10-13 by David Banks

Hi! I am a proud father of two great kids, Ryan and Casey, married to an amazing wife, Amy. We have been in Arp since June of 2007. I grew up in Spring, TX and attended college at Stephen F. Austin State University. Axe'em Jacks! While in college, I received my call to ministry and went to Perkins School of Theology. I was ordained in as a Deacon in 1996. I was ordained as an Elder in 2000. Amy teaches here in Arp, and we love it here.

In my ministry, I have served both large churches and small churches, as a Sr. Pastor and as an Associate Pastor. I have had the opportunity to spend a summer working in Israel and a year working at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital. Even my work in the church has afforded me a great chance to work with a diverse group of people. From Youth to Senior Adults and all ages between, my encounters with God's children has been a kaliescope of grace.

I love my family, writing(e-votionals and a blog), sports, the outdoors and hanging out with my kids. Fishing, of course, is always an incredible way to realx and recharge. My life has taken me many places, Greece, Canada, The British Virgin Islands, Israel, Germany, Austria and France and look forward to having it take me many more places. The Mediterranean, Greater Europe, Australia, The British Isles and the Pacific along with Hawaii are destinations we plan on visiting in the future. The phrases "life is short" and "it's a small world" are certainly phrases I can relate too.

Currently, I am working on my DMin at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, in Portland, OR.  The Semiotics and Future Studies Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program with Dr. Leonard (Len) Sweet emphasizes Jesus Semiotics, the theory and study of the signs and symbols associated with Jesus' work in the world now and in the future. I find this appropriate because if we are to communicate the Gospel faithfully, we are to GO and communicate TO, and not expect the listener to adjust their ears, but we must meet the “hearer” where they are. Communication is of vital importance.  I also believe that as Jesus taught in a way that was abductive, we too ought to utilize the forms of image and metaphor in our communication.
Also, I just got back in from seeing U2 in Dallas.

If you are in the area, come visit us.

Pain's End
2009-10-13 by Stephen Schuette

At our clergy conversation around these texts a friend suggested the book Hurt People Hurt People (Sandra Wilson, 2001).  The thesis is that the pain we inflict has its source in the pain that we’ve received.  Not knowing what else to do with it, and since it needs to go somewhere, we pass it on in a never-ending cycle.  As our discussion ranged we came up with many examples:   the tendency to define ourselves over against others, the ethnic and generational pain that is passed, to the booing of the first Hispanic NFL referee who called his first penalty in Spanish and was booed on Monday Night Football.  The list goes on.

The source of pain is in sin, or so the first story of the Bible suggests, as do many others.  And what is sin but the breaking of relationship?

Is it the goal of James and John to heal their inner pain by rising to the top, with Jesus, above others?  If so, Jesus turns it around, suggesting that true healing will only come in a new way of life in which the inflicting of pain is put to an end.  Rising to the top for Jesus depends on bending low.  And in the act of bending relationships are healed.  The suffering servant of Isaiah says, in essence, “The pain ends here.”  Jesus agrees.

What if we read Isaiah forward beyond a representation of Israel and even beyond a representation of Christ, to the New Community?  And what if we read the story of the relationship among the disciples forward toward the New Community as well?  We begin to see more clearly what Jesus desires for us.  The result is a new understanding of the sacredness we share in our relationships as the body of Christ.  The gathered community is itself a miracle representing a way of life that is permeated with a Holy purpose.  And the intention is the fulfillment of an old promise – that Israel exits for the healing of all the nations even as the Church exists for the healing of the world.

This larger vision, inspiring as it might be, is not enough for a sermon.  I’ll need to turn back to find a specific example or two of this healing.  And that fits the message of Jesus too:  don’t get lost in the grand scheme.  It’s about real-life servanthood in which risk is taken, pain even exposed but never passed forward.

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