Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Monday, October 15, 2018

What Do You Want?

I spent some fruitful days this past week, taking some time out for study leave, with a group of worship leaders and contemporary writers, some older, some still in college days, in the wonderful Tennessee countryside. Some were just trying to improve their skills to do a better job at what they already do. Others were setting their sights high and wondering how to get publishing deals and have their material more widely known.

It was inspiring to talk with them about their hopes and dreams. I have no doubt some will do very well in their given fields. They certainly seemed to have the energy and drive to achieve what they want. It all raises questions, such as “What do we want out of life?” “How do we get there?” and, maybe most importantly; “Is what we want... really the best thing for us?”

Last week here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian our reading from Mark was all about camels and needles. (Sermon here). Our reading this coming Sunday will be from Mark 10:35-45. It’s a passage in which James and John make clear to Jesus what they would like to see happen in their lives. They are aiming high. They request to be seated at Jesus side when He comes to reign in power and glory. That's high! This passage speaks to us about a number of things.

1. It speaks to us about prayer. Our prayers can be self-focused rather than God focused. We tell God what we think God should give us. Sometimes we are even “James and John-like” in that we have a sense that we deserve to have our requests answered in the way we feel they should be. That is not really praying. Prayer is seeking what God desires for our lives and seeking the strength to achieve it. Of course we pray about our needs, but we need to first discern the difference between needs and wants.

2. This passage speaks about perseverance. Jesus asks the disciples if they are capable of drinking the cup that He will have to drink. His life is about to be submerged into deep suffering. They desire a crown, but fail to see that Christ’s glory came through a Cross. The Christian life does offer great things. But they do not often come easy. Spiritual life is the long haul option.

3. This passage is also about pride. There was a song some years ago that proclaimed; “Everybody wants to rule the world.” (Or at least their small corner of it.) Jesus us calls to the abandonment of our quest for personal gain and towards embracing a servant lifestyle that keeps the needs of others always in our minds eye. Now... that is not easy. It doesn’t grab the attention in the way winning a race or gaining a promotion may do. But such is our calling as disciples.

For some music a song by Cory Asbury titled “Reckless Love.” The song has the line in the chorus “Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God” and reminds us that when our ambitions are harnessed to the love of God, God promises to be with us, wherever the journey may lead.

Prayer. “Lord Your Word invites us to consider what we want from You. By asking the question it challenges us to consider our motives. Teach us how to pray in a way that sets our life on the path You wish us to follow. Through Your Holy Spirit preserve and protect us on our journey. Save us from the kind of misplaced pride that takes away our desire to serve others. All these things we ask in our Saviors name, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Reverend Adrian J Pratt B.D