Summary: A sermon for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 24 Servant

19th Sunday after Pentecost

Proper 24

Mark 10:35-45

"Your Eyes, God’s Eyes"

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him, and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."

36 And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?"

37 And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."

38 But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"

39 And they said to him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;

40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."

41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.

43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.

45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."RSV

Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen

Clarence was always very particular, even as a fledging only just out of the nest. He happened to have been born with an especially large and beautifully radiant white bib, which he probably wouldn’t have noticed if the large snowy owl, who kept a weather-eye on all the young birds, hadn’t remarked to Clarence’s mother, "Oh my! What a bootiful bib! You’ll have some trouble keeping that clean with a young chick like that! But he’ll sooon get intooo mischief, so it won’t be white for long."

From that day, Clarence had vowed never to get into mischief, and to make sure his "bootiful" bib stayed as white and as special as it was from the very first minute. He wanted to be the only tree creeper who stayed as pure white as the owl himself. Consequently he was an exceptional good little bird - and was often taunted by his brothers and sisters for being so self-righteous.

It was quite difficult for Clarence, since unlike owls, tree creepers instinctively creep round trees, whether they want to or not. Owls merely perch on convenient branches, turning their necks at extremely odd angles in order to survey all the world around them. Therefore their snowy white feathers generally remain clean. But tree creepers are much closer to the bark of trees, hanging on with their tiny claws and pecking madly with their tiny beaks, which means that their white bibs are often very close to rough and dirty tree barks.

Clarence was so determined to keep his bib white and bootiful, that he decided never to creep around the trunks of the trees. Instead, he would flutter gently up to the branches and perch just like the snowy owls. But try as he would, again and again Clarence found himself clinging to the tree trunks and gently creeping round, pecking at the bark just like all his brothers and sisters. He didn’t know why he acted in this way, and he didn’t want to act in such a way, but he simply couldn’t help himself.

Clarence became a very unhappy tree creeper. He wanted so much to do what he thought was right, but he couldn’t. He became very dejected and sad, and after a while, hardly went out at all.

When the snowy owl next came to visit, poor little Clarence tried to hide away, he was so ashamed of himself. But the owl spotted him and hooted. Clarence cringed. He knew exactly what the owl would say. But to his surprise he heard the owl admiring his radiant white breast.

"It can’t be," muttered Clarence to his mother. "I must be filthy after all that creeping around trees. My white bib is surely grey and grimy by now."

But his mother just laughed. "You’re a tree creeper, silly! No-one can change that! And you can’t go against your own nature! But the trees won’t make you dirty - they protect you and enable you to feed and keep strong. And the healthier you are, the whiter your bib will remain. That’s the way God made you - and he made you into a beautiful tree creeper. So I think it’s now time to put all those silly ideas behind you, and thank God for the way you are."

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