The message for October 17 2021
Today’s reading comes from the Gospel of Mark 10:35-45 and it goes like this; 35 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.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
How do you get people to come to church? This is a great question that has been asked for centuries. Over the course of time there have been some success stories of bringing people to church. Although, over the past several years it has become a real challenge. You have to wonder why? Is it because of the way we advertise? In the world of television and social media, the main way to attract people to any place or of purchasing material items has been to advertise in commercials or printed material. In fact, advertising in these ways has been the most effective way to attract people to places or buying things since the printing press and televisions were invented.
So, when it comes to church, if we were to use these methods of advertising, what is that we should advertise to get people to come? This is easy to answer. We have to advertise Jesus, or perhaps grace or eternal life. All things that you would think people would want in life. Yet, even in advertising, using anyone of the three is not that simple.
The reality is, as much as I would love to say that just knowing Jesus and what Jesus did for us by going to the cross would make people want to go to church, this is not the case. In a world that mostly thinks of itself, Jesus is a hard sell and, in our reading, today, Jesus makes it even harder for people to say yes, I want Jesus in my life.
According to Mark, we have James and John requesting that they wanted to sit one on the right and one on the left of Jesus when he is crowned in his glory. Jesus tells them that they must drink the cup that he drinks or be baptised with the baptism with which he was baptised. In other words, you must go through what Jesus himself went through, to suffer and go to the cross. Jesus also says whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant. The son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
I think just saying those words to the disciples would have made it hard for anyone to want to follow and come to church. The disciples knew Jesus and had seen what Jesus had done through miracles and words of wisdom and they were challenged to keep following in the way Jesus called them to follow. In the world today most do not have a clue who Jesus is. They do not know that Christmas was an event about Jesus’ birth, not about getting presents.
Our world today is mostly focused on how to get ahead, not how one can serve. To serve is kind of backwards thinking. Even as parents our hopes and dreams are that our children will do better than we did. It is a constant. I have said it before and it is worth repeating, the need for more is always on our breath. For those who look to retire, how much is enough. If I have 100 thousand, I want 200 thousand. If I have 1 million, I want 2 million. If I have 100 million, I want 200 million and if I have 1 billion, I need 2 billion. I want more.
Here Jesus comes to us like the disciples to say that if you want to be great you must become a servant. Advertising Jesus the way Jesus calls us to, is not what people want to hear. So how can we use advertising to connect people to church if the people only hear the words just spoken by Jesus.
There is an easy answer to this. Follow the golden rule that Jesus also gave us; “Loving thy neighbour.” Being kind to those in need or the ones we do not know or reaching out to the outcast of our communities. This alone is the advertising that the world needs to see. In fact, I know a young man who played pro-ball who followed these simple instructions. He followed them where he would have been challenged to do so. Fame can change a person. It did not change him and the funny thing about it was how many of the other ball players were seeking him out. They wanted the joy that he felt by following Jesus. Being kind is a simple task that is great advertising. Remember the song; “They will know we are Christians by our love”. It works!
In the end, advertising is a part of our society and in that case let’s use it. Only in using it, let us use it with the tools that Jesus gave us. Show mercy and love and walk humbly with the Lord.