"Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." ~ Mark 9:37
One of the quirks of attending Anglican seminary during the week and Anglican worship on Sunday morning is the probability of hearing the same text preached on at least twice a week. I heard two sermons on Mark 9:30-37 this week (as did many of my fellow students, I assume), both of which exegeted the passage capably and reached the same conclusion: greatness in God's eyes comes from serving those neither celebrated nor important to society proper.
Rector Jonathan Millard of Church of the Ascension (where I have begun to attend) exhorted us starkly: "Be ambitious and serve God!" I take this as a framework for my current endeavor: I need ambition in order to have the energy to accomplish the task before me with excellence. But the task I'm undertaking ought to be done in complete service to God and neighbor, not for my own benefit. It is not their desire for greatness Jesus criticizes, but their definition of what it means to be great.
That this lectionary passage should coincide with the start of my new job is God's provision for me. At the end of last week, the obligations of employment rudely intruded upon my school schedule--the temptation to resent my job present at its beginning. The two sermons--Grant LeMarquand's at Trinity and Jonathan's at Ascension--sobered me, challenged me, reminded me that working with the developmentally disabled means an opportunity for greatness. They also challenged me not to shy away at all from my predisposition towards urban and homeless ministry.
I suppose the challenge at seminary, then, is to do this without allowing "[my] left hand [to] know what [my] right hand is doing" (Mt. 6:3). One thing at a time, Jesus!