152) True Greatness

       During the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier.  Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them.  Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, “Sir, I am a corporal!”  The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers.  The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, “Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.”  With that George Washington got back on his horse and rode off.


1795 - 1823


The Request of James and John for Places of Authority  (Mark 10:35-45)

     Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus.  “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

     “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

     They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

     “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said.  “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

     “We can,” they answered.

     Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant.  These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

     When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.  Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


A PRAYER FOR THOSE IN CHARGE; by Walter Rauschenbusch (1909) :

     O God, we worship you as the sole Lord and sovereign of humanity, and render free obedience to you because your laws are just and your will is love.  We pray for the kings and princes of the nations, to whom power has descended from the past; and for the lords of industry and trade, in whose hands the wealth and power of our modern world have gathered.  We pray that you save them from the terrible temptations of their position, lest they follow in the somber lineage of those who have lorded it in the past and have used the people’s powers for their oppression.  Suffer them not to waste the labor of the many for their own luxury, or to use the precious lifeblood of men for the corruption of all.  Open their hearts to the saving spirit of the new age of freedom.  Mature in their souls the unshakeable conviction that all they have is but held in trust for a time till the heir shall claim his own.

     And when the people seek the ampler freedom and self-direction of manhood, may there be no blindness to the higher will and no hardening of heart by those who have ruled.  Grant them wisdom so large-hearted that they may recognize the culmination of their task in yielding up their powers, and may use their gathered knowledge in guiding the liberation of the people in order and stability.  Save them from the fear and hate which are the tyrant’s portion and from the scorn of coming generations.  Reveal to them that all the higher joys come only by imparting the strength of our life to those who need it, and that a man’s life consists not in the things which he possesses, but in the love that flows out from him and flows back to him.  Amen.