Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
Matthew 20:20-28 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
When I was a child, my sisters and I would visit my Aunt during the summers. It was common for us to go on various adventures. Upon departing for the unknown journey, one of us would inevitably shout: “shotgun!” in the hope of earning the front seat. There was something intriguing about getting to sit upfront in the passenger seat. There was something exciting about claiming a position of ‘power’ if you will. After a while, our Aunt had a different seating arrangement in mind. The one who shouted shotgun first had to sit in the back.
When I look at today’s text, I believe Jesus also had a different seating arrangement in mind. So often, we as a people want the seats of power and prestige; the seats of glory and honor. Sometimes even those we love advocate for us. Yet, Jesus responds seriously: “You do not know what you are asking, can you drink the same cup as me?” The disciples respond: “Sure!”
But this is what I have come to believe. The seats to the right and left of Jesus, are not seats of power and glory and honor (at least not how we have defined them in our culture). The seats to the right and left of Jesus are seats of solidarity. They are the seats that require humility and service. Service that leads to a cup in a garden, alone with sweat drops of blood. A humility that leads to a prayer that says: “Let this cup pass from me…” Solidarity, that places us next to (and not above) those on the margins. Seats of prestige are so much more comfortable than seats of solidarity. But only one of those seats leads to liberation and new life. Thanks be to God.
God of all creation, in the midst of all brokenness, darkness, sin and oppression, You chose to become fully human in the life of Jesus Christ – God Incarnate – to show us a new Way, a new Truth, and a new Life made possible through your Son Jesus. May we, as your church, live into our incarnational call – to be the hands and feet of Christ. May we share the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and deed. May we choose seats of solidarity rather than prestige. To You be all Glory, Honor, and Praise! Amen.
Go with God!