In this week's "Opening the Bible" blog entry at i.ucc, I start talking about South Park and end up with some moving and extraordinarily important words from Jesus. Check it out -- it's called "Trash talkin'"
The disciples were arguing about which one was the greatest. Jesus showed them a couple of things about greatness.
I've seen that television program, South Park, a few times.
OK -- I've watched it more than a few times and I've laughed out loud on more than a few occasions. I find the show offensive, thought-provoking, insensitive and hilarious.
On one program a carnival came to South Park. One of the rides was simply a line -- simulating the experience of standing in a line. People waited in line until they were at the front of the line and then the experience was over. The experience was called the "line line."
My memory of that episode has been the inspiration for the fun I've had while waiting in line for rides at an amusement park. I'll often point out "This is the line line line" or something similar as we determine when we'll get out of the line (line) and finally get to ride the ride.
I don't think anyone really likes being at the end of a line. We usually want to get to the front. We may exhibit patience, but we really want to get to the front.
The disciples may have been good people, but they still wanted to get ahead. The argument described in this week's Bible passage, Mark 9:30-37, could have started as simple competitive trash-talking and turned into something more serious -- about who was better than all the others.
Jesus didn't have much patience for this subject matter. He told them that if they wanted to be first in line -- they had to be last in line. They had to give up any notion of status and start serving others.
Jesus further illustrated his point by taking a child -- a person of no status, importance or greatness at the time -- and saying the words that move me:
(Mark 9:37 NRSV) "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."
He talked about what most regarded as insignificant -- as valuable as trash -- as one whose welcome is as significant as welcoming God.
I love how Jesus calls us to treat others with love and acceptance -- regardless of what artificial status or greatness we give them. Jesus calls us to love everyone -- no exceptions.