The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

“Please . . . after you!”

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Last Sunday’s worship gathering turned into a wonderful time of pondering becoming scott-darrell-and-wayne1.jpgservants of those who carry little prestige in American culture. I’ve included several of the graphics that were used, especially at the end. Hope you enjoy it! Leave me your thoughts! Thanks!

Proper 20; September 24, 2006

Given at New Oaks Church of the Nazarene (Washington, Iowa, USA)

1. Cue Wayne/Darrell Scott song: Sunday With My Son

[to hear a recording of this tender-hearted song, click here ]

2. Call to Worship: Georgann Haeffner

3. Songs for all to sing:

– I Sing the Mighty Power of God

– Above All

– The Servant Song

4. Prayer: Sharon Armstrong

5. Cue logo- Welcome: Evie Richardson

6. Dedication of Gabriel Tinnes [anybody have a photo?]Mission

7. Cue recorded song: Find Your Wings

8. Sermon: Please … after you!

James 3 & 4

Live Well, Live Wisely

13-16Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

[Interrupt this reading, and go to the Jesus story for an example of “trying to look better than others or get the better of others” and how “things fall apart and everyone ends up at each others’ throats:”]

Mark 9:30-37

30-32Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.

So [ask volunteers to act it]: Walking along, them behind, him in front. They’re talking among themselves – as it turns out, guardedly. What would that look like? [They’re covering their mouths, talking quietly, but arguing. He sees.]

Now, I sprawl out in relaxation and ask Jesus’ question:

So You Want First Place?

33They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?

34The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.

Last time we talked about them misunderstanding what Jesus was there to do. Remember? Jesus asked them who people said he was, and who they thought he was, and Peter said, “The Messiah of God.” In response to that, Jesus corrected Peter’s view of what the Messiah would do, by telling them he was going to be captured and killed and rise again on the third day. And how did Peter respond? And what did Jesus say? [See last week]


OK, now, given what they think he’s there to do, given what they think the future holds, what do you think they might be talking about?


If Jesus is going to enforce the nation’s borders and set up a new government (as his followers erroneously believe),fuelweek-people-10.JPG where will he get his cabinet members? “I’d like to be the foreign minister,” one might say. And another, “You? You’ve never been outside Galilee.” “I’ll be secretary of the treasury.” “You can’t even balance your checkbook!” And you can see how arguments would develop.


Now he knows something’s up. He’s seen the looks on their faces while they argued, even if he didn’t hear the words. So he asks them. And the silence was deafening.

35He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”

“Do what if you want first place? Servant of whom? So he makes an example:

36-37He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”

Why would he pick a child? Children are the ones who get ignored or pushed out of the way so grownups can do what they coal_miner.jpgthink really matters. His message? Serve the ones who get pushed out of the way, ignored. That’s what he spends his three and a half years doing. Think of the people he touches: children, prostitutes, extortioners, pagans, Samaritans, adulterers, lepers, the crazed, the poor, the blind. Serving the ones who get ignored. And then he goes to the cross and serves us all by taking the consequences of our sin.


Serving, I think, is freely choosing to share someone’s load. Not like slavery. Not because “I have to, I don’t have any choice, I’ve got to do this.” But because I choose it. I can. I want to. I could do this. Jason [the father of the baby dedicated earlier] is out driving around at 3 A.M. sometimes, with Gabe in the back trying to sleep. He’s serving Gabe. And he’s serving Elisabeth [his wife]. That’s great fathering. Serving starts right at home.


But beyond that, listen to Brian McLaren from Generous Orthodoxy. [pp 263-4]fuelweek-people.JPG

I consider myself not above Buddhists and Muslims and others, but below them as a servant. Better, I consider myself with them as a neighbor and brother.

I am here to love them, to seek to understand them, and to share with them everything of value that I have found or received that they would like to receive as well. I am here to receive their gifts to me with equal joy- to enjoy life in God’s world with them, to laugh and eat and work with them, so we play with one another’s children and hold one another’s babies and dance at one another’s weddings and savor one another’s hospitality.

I am here to be their neighbor according to the teaching of my Lord, and if I am not a good one, my Lord says they have no reason to believe or even respect my message. …

This coming close to my non-Christian neighbor in understanding and love does not compromise mykitchen_worker_sm.jpg Christian commitment, but rather expresses it.

James 3 & 4, 2nd part

17-18Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. . . .


To McLaren again, this time telling the story of his friend Diana Butler Bass, in her own words from Broken We Kneel [Jossey-Bass, 2004, quoted in McLaren, pp 265-6]. It takes place in tense Washington, D.C., not long after the attacks of 9/11.

One day [my daughter] Emma saw a woman walking toward us covered in a veil and asked the inevitable, “What’s that, mommy?”walmart.jpg

“Emma,” I answered, “that lady is a Muslim from a faraway place. And she dresses like that – and covers her head with a veil- because she loves God. That is how her people show they love God.”

My daughter considered these words. She stared at the woman who passed us. She pointed at the woman, then pointed at my hair, and further quizzed, “Mommy, do you love God?”

“Yes, honey,” I laughed. “I do. You and I are Christians. Christian ladies show their love for God by going to church, eating the bread and wine, serving the poor, and giving to those in need. We don’t wear veils, but we do love God.” After this, Emma took every opportunity to point to Muslim women during our shopping trips and tell me, “Mommy, look, she loves God.” One day, we were getting out of our car at our driveway at the same time as our Pakistani neighbors. Emma saw the mother, beautifullymigrant_workers_sm.jpg veiled, and, pointing at her, shouted, “Look, mommy, she loves God!”

My neighbor was surprised. I told her what I had taught Emma about Muslim ladies loving God. While she held back tears, this near stranger hugged me, saying, “I wish that all Americans would teach their children so. The world would be better. The world would be better.”

9. Prayer

10. Giving

11. cue Sunday With My Son again, but this time with photos of ordinary people who hold positions of low esteem in our culture, to whom we might become servants:

Closing Blessing



All Scripture from The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


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Written by Monte

September 28, 2006 at 11:43 am

2 Responses

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  1. Hey thanks, man, I value your input very much! God bless you, too!


    October 3, 2006 at 11:25 am

  2. Nice post man & yes i do believe that there are some enemies of islam who are telling bad stories about muslims but people have to see with their own eye that what reality is. Great job done by EMMA’s MOM. Hope you will be spending a happier life there. God Bless You :D


    October 3, 2006 at 4:11 am

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