Two different experiences are deeply embedded in my memory.
In one memory our gym teacher announces that our class will divide into two teams, then she chooses two lucky children to be the captains. Typically these two are the most popular, the ones who, in the second grade, already wear mousse in their carefully styled hair. The rest of us, the average and the ordinary, sit and wait to be chosen. One by one, the captains select their teammates, sometimes on the basis of skill but more often on the basis of their social network. Soon only two classmates are left, the ones too clumsy and uncoordinated, too big or too small, too awkward and unpopular to be selected earlier. I and my classmate stand in the middle, hoping to be chosen. Both of us pray the same prayer, “God, please don’t let me be last.”
In the other memory, my wife Jen and I are on vacation in Disney World soon after our wedding. Do you know why Disney World is successful? They make everyone feel important with a smile or a kind word. No one is too old or too young, too fat or too thin, too one label or another. Everyone is treated like someone special, as if every person is a VIP. They call this place the Magic Kingdom.
Jesus tells us that in God’s kingdom, the first will be last and the greatest leader will be the greatest servant. God has chosen you and sees something blessed and beautiful in you. God smiles at you and on you, commissioning you to go and share your life with others. Jesus says, “Listen, I am going to give my life by serving others.” Then he invites you to do the same.
You are a child of God. Look at yourself through God’s eyes and ask what gifts you have to share with others.
God, remind us of the grace you so abundantly share with us. Help us humbly embrace your hopeful call to follow Jesus by serving others. Amen.