February 2012 Newsletter

Dear Friends in Christ,

How do we measure greatness? On Wall Street, greatness is measured in dollars and cents. In the factory, greatness is expressed in terms of productivity. In education, greatness is reflected in one's academic record, grades, standardized test scores, etc. In athletics, greatness is a matter of strength or speed, is expressed in victories and medals. In politics, greatness is measured by the depth and breadth of one's power and influence. Among nations, greatness is often a function of gross national product or military might. The media would have us believe that greatness equals celebrity status, fame, and fortune. The world around us measures greatness in a whole variety of ways.

The Christian definition of greatness, however, is distinct from the rest. The Christian measures greatness in such commodities as wisdom and humility, compassionate service and hospitality. For the Christian, judgments of the world mean little. What matters is what we do that is pleasing in God's sight. What matters is how much we love God and how much we share God's love with others. What matters is how we care for the lost and the vulnerable, how we reach out to "the least of these our brothers and sisters."

Jesus Christ in his life, death, and resurrection redefines for us our notions of greatness. Jesus Christ, the greatest human who ever lived, the one who is the very Son of God, the one who is God's perfect revelation to the world, comes in humility to serve and to sacrifice for the sake of humankind. He comes to sacrifice his life in obedience to God the Father.

In Mark 10:41-43, Jesus instructs his disciples on the nature of greatness. He says to the twelve:

"You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

We live in a world where personal power, possessions and self-gratification are treated as measures of greatness. But the way of Christ is different, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel will save it." (Mark 8:34-35) In God's judgment, the first will be last and the last first. Greatness is measured in humble service and sacrifice to the Lord.

Tempted on every side by worldly definitions of greatness and earthly measures of worth, may you and I strive to be great in God's eyes by yielding our wills to Christ's way. May we give ourselves in love and devotion to serve God and our neighbor. May we strive to be great in obedient service as we begin a new year and prepare ourselves for the coming of Lent.

In Christ's Love,

Rev. Peggy Ann Sauerhoff