Last-Place Finish, First-Place Medal

1-31By Jim Cummings of Columbus, Ohio, USA

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 9:35–37

I finished last in a five-kilometer race but received a first place medal!

Sounds funny, but it’s true. Let me explain. My niece, Rachel, is a first-year schoolteacher in a poor area of Kentucky. She loves her students and her job. In her first year she has helped to raise her students’ educational level by two grades, but they are still behind the national average.

The school needs equipment to help the students, so Rachel organized a race with sponsors to raise the funds. There were about 50 participants, and as I said, I finished last. Rachel gave first-place medals to the winners in each age category. I was the only runner over 60, so I received a medal.

Though I lost the race as a whole, I felt like a winner. Not because I received a medal, but because I helped the children. I could be a servant.

As we approach God in prayer, let us keep in mind the importance of servanthood.

Prayer for Peace
God who calls us, thank you for your Son, who showed us how to be a servant. We praise you for sending us the true peacemaker. May we share his peace with others.

Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Read Psalm 139:13–18. After each reading sit quietly and let the words sink deeply into your mind, heart, and body. Imagine God watching you grow in your mother’s womb. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)?

Sense the intimate knowledge God has of you and every child. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How are you invited to let others go before you, to be God’s servant?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will let others go before me.

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