Be Servants of All

By Art Smith of Independence, Missouri, USA

But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.  Mark 9:34–37

I can relate to the disciples in this text from the Gospel of Mark. They’re made to look foolish again and again. I know I’m guilty of this one. Even when I think I’ve been doing better at not feeling superior to others, I realize I’m doing it again. Yikes!

What to do? Jesus seems to say that I’m not going to be able to cure myself of feelings of superiority just by giving myself a good talking to. Jesus says become a slave and welcome children. I know of one who emulates what Jesus is saying.

Not long ago I was visiting Simon’s house in Sacaba, Bolivia. The building is made of adobe blocks, a humble structure indeed. Plaster on the living room walls was gouged off, patched, and gouged off again over the years. People scribbled on the paint with permanent markers. There’s not much living room furniture, no sofa, no recliner, just stacks of little plastic chairs of many colors.

On this visit a new banner hung from the living room ceiling. It marked 10 years of hosting the Community of Christ Sacaba Congregation’s children’s church. Simon and his wife, Victoria, welcome dozens of kids every week.

Recently Simon retired from full-time church employment. As I talk with him about his retirement, I find, if anything, he has increased his congregational support, even without the church’s financial backing. He still goes to Tiquipaya every Sunday and makes more trips to Collpa than ever before. In many ways, Simon chose the life of a slave.

I can’t imagine Simon arguing with anyone about who’s the greatest.

Prayer for Peace:

God, we would be humble like Jesus. Let us not concern ourselves with being greatest or first. Make us servants of peace as we serve others in the world.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Welcoming Unity in Diversity

Meditate on unity in diversity. Prayerfully read Doctrine and Covenants 163:8c, which calls “the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls.”

Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside this symbol of Christ’s peace. Who is easy to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Ask God to forgive and heal barriers to Christ’s peace.

Peace Covenant:

God, I will stand back and let others go before me, so they will be affirmed.

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