Saturday, March 21, 2009

a new order of nobility...

For me, the true heart and challenge of the teachings of Jesus lies in his upending of our ideas of what constitutes greatness and nobility. This is Rev. Tilden's subject this morning. The Boston Unitarians were often caricatured for their belief in "salvation by character," an idea that sometimes had class connotations. Tilden explains that the best seats in the house are available to anyone and everyone if we will "reach forth and make it ours."

"SEATS IN THE KINGDOM" (Scripture Reading)

'THEN came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
And he said unto her, What wilt thou ? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with? They say unto him, We are able.
And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. . . .
But whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister ;
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Matt. xx
SEATS IN THE KINGDOM (Tilden's Meditation)

" YE know not what ye ask." Seats of honor in the spiritual kingdom are not to be had for the asking. God alone knows who will be high or who low in His kingdom. If any would be chief, let him see how well he can serve. These two sons did sit close to the Master, but not in the way the motherly heart had planned. We all need a deeper baptism into Christ's idea of Greatness. It is another name for Goodness. Jesus would win from evil by showing the divineness of Good. Let us consecrate all our faculties to goodness. This is divine power ; it is God-like. Jesus gives a new order of nobility, of divine appointment; it is character ; there is none other so high. The rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned, may belong to it. It does not come by birth. It cannot be bought with money, even at a great price. It is something to be won. Blessed are ye ! for the nobility of Heaven itself is yours, if you will reach forth and make it yours. For, " It shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father."

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