We live in a world where the quest for greatness has become almost obsessive. Reality television offers the promise of fame and wealth to anyone willing to put themselves “out there”. Everything – from corporations to churches to individuals – is measured by the size of buildings, bank accounts or networks. And, while the growth of social media has connected us as never before, it has also created a whole new competition for greatness as we strive for ever increasing numbers of “friends,” followers,” or “visitors”.

This desire to be “special” or “exceptional” is not new. James and John wrestled with it as they secretly approached Jesus hoping to secure the best seats in God’s Reign. The other disciples had it too, which is why they got so upset when they heard what James and John had done. In the Old Testament, Job, who had perhaps become a little too obsessed with his own righteous suffering, was faced with a God who reminded him of his place, and, in the Isaiah reading we see this God revealed in the Suffering Servant who makes no claim to greatness but saves his people.

This week we will be faced with two very important challenges. The first is to define greatness differently – in terms of service and sacrifice for others. The second challenge is to give up our quest to be extraordinary, and embrace the simplicity, the humility, and the ordinariness of following Jesus just where we are. In a world driven crazy by the quest for greatness, embracing the glory of our own ordinary lives may be one of the most significant contributions we can make!

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