“Be a Servant” by The Rev. Kaji Douša
Lately we’ve been hearing a lot of stories of abuses of power from people who call themselves religious leaders. Which is very easy to happen. And what I love about the Gospels is that they show us that Jesus was very familiar with this phenomenon. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 23, verses 1 through 12, Jesus describes the Pharisees and the scribes who would sit on Moses’ throne, he says, so you should listen to the word of God they teach, but – and this is fascinating and heartbreaking – he says, “Listen to what they teach, but do not do as they do,” because, basically, they are hypocrites, and they do not always embody the word of God. And we see this time and time again as Jesus says, these leaders, who want to put their burdens on everyone else because they can’t hold them themselves. And that’s what we have to address. That nobody should have to carry a burden alone. But if you do have a burden, it is not your responsibility to give it to someone else. That’s how we break the cycle. We say to leaders, “We’re not going to take on your stuff, you need to deal with it yourself.” We break the cycle by saying we believe in “servanthood” which places you as everyone else as equal. And you have to be just as accountable as do I. Religious servanthood from Jesus means that the first comes last and the last comes first. And if you’re around leaders who insist on being exalted to high places while exalting no one else, and pushing other people down, what they’re doing is precisely what Jesus said: they’re putting their burdens on us. On you. And you don’t deserve that. No one does. In Jesus name, Amen.