Go To The Back of the Line September 23, 2018

Mark 9:30-39 New International Version (NIV)

30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were,

31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.

32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”

34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

 HOMILY   Go to the Back of the Line  


If I asked you who was the first man in space?                                              Most of you know that it was the Russian Yuri Gagarin.

But who was the second man in space?                                                                      Most of us do not know!     (American John Glenn)

If I asked you who was the first man to walk on the moon?                        Most of you know that it was Neil Armstrong.

But who was the second man on the moon?                                                        Most people don’t know!                      (Buzz Aldrin)

If I asked you who was the first man to run the mile in                         under 4 minutes?  Most of you know that it was Roger Bannister.

But who was the second man to run the mile in under 4 minutes? (John Landy)

If I asked you who were the first men to conquer Mount Everest?Most of you know that it was Edmund Hillary, and the Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay,

But who did it after them? Your guess is as good as mine!Most of know who did ‘a thing’ first, because there is something about being first!


Neil Armstrong was the first  man to walk on the moon; On the 26th July 1969. In total only 12 people have ever walked on   the moon;  The last person was on, Apollo 17, in December 1972.

His name was Harrison Schmitt but most of us have never heard of him!                 There is something about being first!

Since childhood, humans struggle to be first…

Bus stop   Lunch line   VBS – kool aid/cookie


Ticket line  Airport/Airplane  First on/first off   Merging traffic     Lines  at stores on Black Friday    Food line at weddings

What are we afraid of, if we are not FIRST?

Running out of food (unlikely)         Running out of tickets (maybe)      Being LESS THAN if someone merges in front of us

What happened in our life that makes us fight to be first?

Sporting – First = winner            Trophy   Recognition

Second = loser       Nothing


Contests – First = winner       Trophy       Money     Recognition

All others = losers


Academy Awards     Oscar – Statue        Recognition                                       Can earn more  Money


Is our need to be first part of our natural instinct of

Survival of the fittest?    Us or THEM –

All or nothing?     Really?

The last shall be first and the first shall be last…

Where does it say the first are the only ones that count?

The first will get it all and everyone else get nothing?

This is such an important lesson that it appears in different forms in three of the four gospels…

What lesson are we to learn?

Every time the phrase “last shall be first and the first last” occurs in scripture it refers to the fact that one’s position in this life does not give a person an advantage in gaining eternal life—or a higher level of eternal life

Every time Jesus uses the phrase, the message is the same.

It does not matter who we are in this     world or what we have done.

Eternal life is for all – equally

Humans continuously focus on FAIRNESS—

As we humanly understand fairness –

First come — First served

Don’t cut the line

Go to the back of the line

We were here first.


Tickets sales

Tents/camped out days ahead

To go to class – would have someone                                                                            hold place in line –

First come – first served

Stores at Christmas

Can’t chance NOT getting Item                                                                                 for Xmas

Cabbage Patch Dolls

In 1983 we saw the birth of total consumer anarchy—

First in line       Took on use of violence     Camped out stores for days

Physically fighting to get one     A woman was pictured tightly grasping a Cabbage Patch Kid with both arms,                                                     as another woman wrapped her purse strap around her throat –

FIRST to be sure to GET

FIRST to be IN



Again, our lessons from Christ seem to throw everything we understand – out the window…


First are to be last? Really?

What does that really mean?


Once a teacher told her class to line up in front of her desk to receive a special treat…

You know what happened…

A scramble to be the first in line – to be in the front –

Once everyone was in a line – the teacher got up and walked around the desk with  her bag of candy –

She reached inside the bag, pulled out a piece of candy, and then walked to the back of the line and gave it to the child who was LAST in line.

What did they learn that day?


Back in 2008, Sara was a college senior playing for the championship of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference softball league. In the second inning, she hit her first home run ever — the ball sailed right out of the park. Then, rounding the bases, she realized that she had failed to touch first. So, she turned back. But, through a twist of fate and her knee, she found herself down on the ground with a torn ligament, crawling in agony back to first base. According to the rules, she would have been out if anyone from her team helped her.

That’s when Mallory Holtman — from the other team — stepped up to help. She and her teammate, Liz Wallace, carried Sara around the bases, making sure to tap her left foot on each base. Though Mallory and Liz lost the game that day, they clearly accomplished something more important.

There’s no doubt that this is an extremely emotionally touching story. Mallory and Liz went beyond good sportsmanship. In a moment that really counted, those young women showed good character. And Mallory’s unsolicited offer to help (at a cost to herself) displayed a deep sense of humanity that we all hope (but don’t know) we would show in a similar circumstance.

When you put the needs and well    being of others before yourself                  you are showing love in a                                                                                   way that God has showed                                                                                              love to you.

The way that we grow in our trust   and faith in God is by taking               steps of faith.

By putting first  we can actually practice trusting that God will take                     care of our needs.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Although It’s tempting to want to  be great,  do we achieve that at        the expense of making  0thers out to be the                                                               least –

If so, will that make us least in the eyes of God?

What happens when we live out

The first shall be last and the last shall be first?

What does this really look like — ??



We are always to put others first?


I grew up believing that…


What a wonderful way to spell JOY


I understood that I was supposed to ALWAYS put others first – and me LAST.

Today, I have a different view of this lesson…

The first will be last  and the last will be first…

I have learned that when I always put myself LAST –

I failed to be my best –

I failed to take the best care of myself

I sacrificed myself for others…


This may be necessary at times…


We also need to treat ourselves as we treat others..

Love ourselves as we love others…

Not merely trade places with them…



Sure, helping people is rewarding, but don’t keep giving it your all if you receive nothing in return.


Be kind to yourself – you’re doing your best and sometimes, just getting up in the morning is the biggest achievement and that’s okay.


Taking care of yourself is by no means a weakness, but a sign of strength. But sometimes, admitting that you can’t do something might feel like failure. It’s not. It’s okay and healthy to realize you’re not able or ready to do something.


Nothing is ever more important than your health and mental well being.



I used to keep forcing myself to do things I thought I needed to do, when every part of myself kept screaming no. But my sense of responsibility was always louder.


Sometimes we just need silence, keep to ourselves and breathe.


We tend to always put others first, but sometimes, we need to take a step back and treat ourselves like our best friend. Because, in the end, there is no one you spend more time with than yourself.


Healing takes time, getting better takes time, learning takes time… everything takes time.


If you become empty because you always give away – You are limited in who and how many you will help…


S. Lewis said

Humilty is not thinking less of yourself –


Thinking of yourself LESS

The first shall be last and the last shall be first –


Working together – as a team…as part of the whole…

It may be easier just to remember to

Put God first and we will never be last…

Syro-Phoenician Woman and Dogs September 9, 2018

Mark 7:24-37

24From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

31Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”



“Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

This is the equivalent to me saying White people are to receive the       best of everything and  NON white people can  have what is left.

DOGS  was a racial slur like

Towel Heads     Wet Backs  Dago   Camel Jockey   Polack    Sambo   White Trash   Redneck

Jesus not only dismissed this woman, he also threw in an ethnic slur for good measure…

REALLY?    Did Jesus express bigotry?

As a Jew, and a man, he was perfectly within his rights  to respond this way…

  • NO WOMAN was to directly speak to a strange man – and in public
  • And NO GENTILE woman was to ever make contact with a JEW.

She was risking her life… in so many words.

Jesus telling her the CHILDREN were to be fed first actually referred to the Children of Israel – THEY come first –

Gentiles – the DOGS—   could have the leftovers or                               what fell to the floor.                                                                                                 THIS would have been an expected  response considering the                  situation… and  NO one would have thought twice at his actions…

Except in this case – Jesus  had just given a sermon on the mount Telling us to love one another as we love ourselves…Could it be that Jesus wanted to SHOCK the disciples – and make this a teaching moment for them? Jesus’ responding by dehumanizing her with ethnic prejudice was startling —

So for Jesus to spew this ethnic slur didn’t make sense—unless  he was trying to make a point…To SHOW the Disciples what racism and bigotry LOOK LIKE—and how if we stop and listen – we share more similarities than differences..,.


Commonly, theologians accept this story on the premise of Jesus was fully human and fully divine and this was his HUMAN showing –

And it became a LEARNING moment for human JESUS. Up until meeting this persistent woman, Jesus still lived under the assumption that   he was a JEW and his message was only for    the JEWS.

Jesus does the most difficult thing for those of us born into prejudice and power.  He listens.   And allows himself to be fundamentally changed. Here is where Jesus realized that GENTILES could have the same or stronger faith as JEWS.

That WOMEN could have the same or stronger faith as MEN This is the only time recorded in the gospels in which Jesus changed his mind… And his ministry evolved — This opened the Door for Gentiles to be accepted into his ministry.

This initiated the profoundly expansive notion of a kingdom that included ALL, not just the “CHOSEN” – EVERYONE –

Male  Female Jew  Gentile  Young   old  Stranger Friend

This story is not only a lesson for Jesus and the Disciples… but for all of us… This story shows us that no one is excluded from God’s love

No one is left out because they are different.  All are made in God’s image – Whatever image they may have…