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The Key to Greatness
Theme: True greatness comes in serving others. Proper 20/Ordinary 25, Year B
Object: A key ring with a lot of keys.
Scripture: Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." Mark 9:35 (NIV)

Look at this key ring! Have you ever seen so many keys? They come in all different shapes and sizes. Which of these keys do you think is the most important? Well, if I want to get into my house, this would be the most important key. If I wanted to drive my car, this key would be the most important. Look at this little tiny key. Surely it couldn't be very important. Unless, of course, I needed to get into my locked suitcase. Then it would be pretty important!

It would be pretty silly to argue about which of these keys is the most important, wouldn't it? How about people? Have you ever heard people arguing among themselves about which of them is the greatest? I have! You might be surprised to know that even Jesus' disciples had such an argument. One day the disciples were walking along the road with Jesus and they began arguing among themselves. Jesus overheard them, and when they got to the place where they were going, he asked, "What were you arguing about on the road?" The disciples suddenly got very quiet. They were embarrassed because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.

Jesus sat down and called his disciples to him. "If anyone wants to be first," he said, "he must be the very last, and be the servant of everyone else."

Now that wasn't exactly what the disciples wanted to hear. They were hoping to hear Jesus say that they were going to have a position of great importance in his kingdom. Instead, Jesus called a little child over to him a took him in his arms. "Anyone who welcomes one of these little children also welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, also welcomes the one who sent me."

If I were to ask you, "Who is the greatest person who ever lived?" What would your answer be? Would you name a famous athlete? A movie star? A world leader? I think we would all agree that Jesus Christ was the greatest person who ever lived. Why? Because, although he was God, he gave up all of his divine privileges and became a servant.

There are a lot of keys on my key ring. One key you won't find on this key ring is the key to greatness. The key to greatness is to have a servant's heart. A heart like Jesus.

Heavenly Father, give us a servant's heart. A heart like Jesus. In his name we pray. Amen.

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An alternative lesson based on Mark 9:30-37: "Who Is the Greatest"
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