Wednesday, March 27 – The Sacrifice of Striving

Luke 22:14 – 34

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

 But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Child of the Human One is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this. A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father/Mother has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your sisters and brothers.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”

German Pastor Martin Niemoller’s (1892-1984) Prison Prayer

This poem relates to the passivity of many Germans in the l930s and into the World War II years.  During this time, targeted group after targeted group was purged by Nazi and other like-minded parties in Germany as well as elsewhere.   Pastor Niemoller, who early on publicly protested such measures, was seen at least by some as Adolf Hitler’s personal prisoner from 1937 to almost the end of World War II in l945.  His imprisonment included time at Sachsenhausen and Dachau.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for

me.

Do you think of yourself as one who at least sometimes sets aside personal goals for the benefit of others?  Today especially it is fairly easy to become goal-oriented in the name of achieving a better life for one’s self, one’s family, including one’s children.  And while on this path, it may not be easy to not seek promotion, advancement, and even social recognition; all or most of this in competition with others.  All of this with attendant cost to one’s self as well as others.

Some strivers have achievement as the primary focus of their waking hours, of their lives.  Little or no room is left for becoming involved and otherwise dealing with the real world of real life with all of its sometimes mundane demands, problems, experiences, perplexities … all of its almost inevitable successes and failures whatever the scale.   Status seeking is a narrow track all its own.

Such striving, however purified, often seems couched in longing for the next promotion, the next raise, a corner office or any of the other trappings of success as defined by others.  For those who find themselves on the striving path of longing, of being impatient, perhaps of almost continual dissatisfaction, may they consider taking the time instead to embrace within their current circumstances whatever can be good and real, inclusive even.

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