Make America Great Again is , well, a great slogan! It stirs our imaginations to conjure images of America as Great! But what is our frame of reference to be Great? Back a few centuries ago, America was considered Great because it was the friend of all, welcoming of every religion, even the Puritans (who were kicked out of England because their faith was just weird), the Anabaptists (who fled Europe because their faith was non-conformist), the Roman Catholics (who were feared to be worshipping a prince in a tall white hat instead of the Prince of Peace), and welcoming of Italians, Germans, Scots, French, Asian, African, and South American countries, too. Being great means no one is left behind. There is room for you. One more. The ones no one else seems to want. The others who are forgotten. Being Great as in winning the Great War, enjoying the Greatest Show on Earth, hearing the Greatest story ever told, singing Great is Thy Faithfulness, and recalling Jesus tell his disciples, Greater things you will do, are all, as I said, really great. Aspiring to greatness can be a great thing to aspire to. But what is great? And how do we as individuals become truly great? How do our communities become great? How can Cold Spring Church become great? How can America become great? Well, what did Jesus say about greatness? Let’s take a look at Mark 9:30-37.
The disciples followed Jesus, literally followed him as he walked around. They were his students and where Jesus went, they went. But from many accounts in the Gospels, the disciples not only stayed attentive to their spiritual coach, they also had their own huddles with one another just out of earshot of Jesus. (An interesting Bible study could be looking up the manny times Jesus asks, “What were you discussing along the road?” ) Just out of earshot may protect your private conversation from a hard of hearing friend, but Jesus is not hard of hearing. He hears the whimpers of a baby and the sighs of the aged, Jesus hears all, something the disciples just couldn’t understand. So, the disciples were in their huddle, chatting up a storm, when Jesus asks, “What were you discussing on the road?”
Not a peep. Like getting caught in science class whispering to a classmate. Stoic Silence. Apparently no one admitted the conversational topic. THey were too embarrassed. But like I said, Jesus is not hard of hearing. He sits them down in the home they arrived at, and starts addressing what they thought was a silent running.
“So you want to be great?”
Simple. Include everyone. Welcome this child. Love this child. Protect this child. As you welcome children, you are welcoming me, Jesus said. To be great, is to be the servant of all. All of us are children. Some of us just move faster or slower than others. Every age. Every person. Welcome. Now, let’s show God’s love as servants in the community, and to the degree we serve, we will be great again! And that’s Great!