Sermons

Summary: For deacon ordination at Montgomery Hills Baptist Church: deacons are to be humble, secure, and serving, and thus to coach the whole church in Kingdom ways.

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Power is what the world knows. You cannot live in the metro DC area without seeing that power is everything for this world. The power of a position in the government, where you can order people around like pawns on a chessboard. The power of access to huge sums of money, so that shopping sprees on embezzled dollars can run on for years. The power of influence, where a few carefully chosen phrases, leaked to the media, can put people on the streets to demonstrate. Power!

Wasn’t it Henry Kissinger, himself no stranger to the corridors of power, who thought of it as something like an erotic rush, it was so fulfilling? Power is what we know here in this town. Power is what we produce and what we consume, every day.

Don’t even get me started on the presidential races. Why does anyone in his or her right mind want to be President? The responsibility is immense, the likelihood of criticism is 100%, and the money, while far better than I earn, should not matter to those multimillionaires who are in the running. Why do they run? The short answer is, “They want power.” Power to do good, perhaps, but power nonetheless. Our lives are totally enmeshed with the realms of power. As some wit has said, “Everybody in Washington is here to work for, on, or against, the government.”

But there is a place in which life is not about power. There is a realm in which we do not applaud power or position, but look for something quite different. That place is the Kingdom of God, in which all the rules have been changed.

Jesus told a parable about going to a wedding feast, and about how people do themselves in because they want to be about power. But the Kingdom, Jesus insisted, is not about power.

In Jesus’ day, you see, social life worked on a strict protocol basis. At a formal occasion everyone would be seated on the basis of rank. The higher your rank, the better your seat. I hear that has not changed much. When I was a pastor, and we would have a church dinner, people always tried to put me at what they called the “head table.” You are the pastor, and naturally you want to be up there at the top of the room.

But now, Jesus says, imagine that you arrive at this wedding feast. You do not know exactly where you are to sit, but you go and honey up to the bride and sit in one of the preferred seats. Well, for a moment or two, at least, everyone else out there thinks you must be somebody, because you are sitting up there, kissing the bride and trying to get the first piece of cake. But, says Jesus, and I can see His eyes glistening with laughter, here comes the bride’s father, and he says, look, Mr. What-did-you-say-your-name-is? These seats belong to my sister and her husband, and you will need to go sit down there. No, down there! I mean, way down there, next to the kitchen door, where the waiters will drop soup on you and the noise of dishwashing will drown out your conversation! Incidentally, my wife and I once attended a family wedding where we were seated in just that unpleasant spot! We found out how we ranked!


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