The Rev. Melissa Hollerith
Today’s Gospel: John 12:20-26
Whoever serves me must follow me.
I have been a Chaplain and teacher for over 25 years. In my ministry one way I have tried to follow Jesus is by serving in boys’ schools and caring for the young men in my midst. Schools are full of young people that need to be loved and nurtured, young people who sometimes need to be challenged to hear painful truths, and young people who need to be understood.
According to psychologists, the predictors of living the best life are not grades but the attitudes developed during childhood. Attitudes like: confidence, enthusiasm, a strong interest in something, optimism, the ability to persist in the face of disappointment, the ability to ask for help when you need it and give help when it is needed; a sense of humor; courage; ambition; the ability to take responsibility and to do the right thing when no one is looking. These are the attitudes that actually do predict doing well in life. (N. Hallowell)
The most dangerous disabilities, what truly holds people back in life are: fear, shame, loss of hope, broken confidence, shattered dreams, and a feeling of being less-than. These are the disablers. (N. Hallowell)
Knowing this, when we interact with one another we need to do it in an atmosphere free of shame and fear–just as Jesus would do. That’s what it means to follow Him, to serve Him; it is to emulate how Jesus interacted with the tax collector and the woman at the well and Peter after he denies knowing Him three times. We can follow Jesus by emulating Him. And Jesus gave challenges too, just as He did when He told the rich young man that he only lacked one thing; and we can give challenges to people as well. But the key is that Jesus always spoke truth out of love. The question for us is: Do we always speak truth out of love? To follow Jesus means that we speak like Jesus. We never want to make a person feel less-than with our words.
I often tell my colleagues that at the end of our days we will know we tried to make a difference in the life of a child, that the interactions we have each day with the students are holy, that the relationships we share, the children we teach–even the challenges we face–are sacred–because we model our teaching after the Master Teacher and do our best to follow Him. And who doesn’t want to end their days knowing they did their best to follow the Master Teacher? If we make that our goal, our aim, we are that much closer to ushering in the Kingdom.
“A Boy’s Prayer”
O God, give me clean hands, clean words, and clean thoughts. Help me stand for the hard right against the easy wrong. Save me from habits that harm; teach me to work as hard and play as fairly in thy sight alone as if all the world saw. Forgive me when I am unkind to others, and help me to forgive those who are unkind to me. Send me chances to do a little good every day and so live a life that is useful. In the spirit of the Teacher who came that we all might have life and have it more abundantly, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Written by: William DeWitt Hyde