When hurricane Katrina came through, our family was living in Sewanee, Tennessee, where Bill was teaching at the seminary. We lost power for several days which was nothing compared to what was suffered by the people on the coast. Rachel was in the first grade and one day after school, she went into her room and asked me to help her open her piggy bank. When I asked her why, she said that there was a collection being taken up to give to the victims of the hurricane and she wanted to give them what money she had in there because she knew they needed it more than she did.The faith and goodness of children cannot be emphasized enough. If you have not had the pleasure of standing next to a child at the communion rail, I highly recommend it as a spiritual discipline. Often there are smiles, and high fives, and all kinds of joy that is expressed, even when the children are shy. We should all approach the communion rail with such joy.In today’s gospel, we have some themes that we saw from last week. We have Jesus once again telling the disciples that he will be betrayed and killed, and in three days, he will rise again. This week it isn’t Peter who doesn’t understand, but it appears to be the whole group who just doesn’t get it. And we are told they are afraid to ask. Can’t you see it? They’re walking along whispering, “what does he mean? I don’t know, you ask him. I’m not going to ask him, YOU ask him”. And then, their whispering must have been constant and loud enough that Jesus asks them what they were talking about. Now they’re busted. Because they REALLY didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about, because they were trying to figure out who among them was the greatest disciple.Talk about not getting it. Jesus of course, knew what they were talking about, and he also knew that like Peter, they didn’t really get it either. So to make his point, he told them that discipleship did not mean an exalted status; rather than in order to be a disciple, one must be the servant of all. And, as if that wasn’t enough to make his point, he brings a small child into the midst of them, proclaiming that one who welcomes such a child also welcomes him.Now, lest we get a little too sappy about Jesus welcoming this child into their midst, we have to remember a few things. First, our english language word for child here doesn’t really drive home the point. In our culture, we tend to see children as little people to love and dote on. But here, Jesus uses a word that not only means child but also has the connotation of slave. Children in that time and place were at the absolute bottom of the social pile. They were unnoticed by those who had status, and many of them were commodities to be bought and sold. So for Jesus to make this point probably served to shame the disciples just a little bit. The greatest among them was the least among them; a child, a poor child who was likely a slave that meant little to nothing to most people. The only person who might be even lower in society might be a criminal; a criminal who would be crucified for his crimes. If the disciples are paying attention yet, they will realize what Jesus has said; that he, Jesus, who has more status as the Son of God, more status than any of them, becomes the lowest of the low, and servant of the whole world. It’s a lesson that they will have to learn again and again.Beloved, it’s a lesson that you and I also have to learn again and again. The bottom line, especially in Mark’s gospel, is that discipleship is hard. There is a simplicity to it that children seem to understand instinctively – children want to be loved, and they want to act lovingly toward others; they take joy in other people, especially if they have been treated with love and care. And we also know children who no matter how awful their lives have been, there is still a goodness in them that believes that the world is a good place, and that loving others is a good thing. But as we get older, there are all kinds of things that get in the way of our love for Jesus and in the way of our living as disciples. We tend to live as those who are preoccupied with self preservation; we become concerned with status and wealth; we become competitive in ways that are unhealthy; we put all sorts of things before God and before God’s commandments. For many, when we do go to church, it’s because it’s expected. Even in church many seek to have status and want to be seen as important. We try to out pray or out study each other to show that we are Christians who understand, who get it.Here’s the rub. When we come together on Sunday or any other day, we gather to worship the one true God in Trinity of persons. Worship of God is our primary purpose here; and in this tradition we do that in listening to scripture, singing, and in the sacraments of the church that we believe are instruments of God’s grace. When we walk through those doors, all of the status and trapping of the culture that we have as distractions is left outside. If we are truly worshipping well, then I think that when we leave worship, we find ourselves empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the work that Jesus has given us to do… that means we remember that we are disciples; and so we remember that we are servants, servants of God and servants of God’s people. It is how we show our love and thanks to Jesus for giving his life in order that we might live.Loving God and loving our neighbor sounds deceptively simple. And, I suppose that it is simple. Children seem to get it in ways that the rest of us miss, maybe because they haven’t been corrupted by power just yet. And unfortunately, that seems to happen to children younger and younger.Our “status” in church is to be a servant of all. Our status is to be like one who has no real status except to serve. Our status is to remember that we are disciples of the living God, Jesus the Christ, who lowered himself from being God to being crucified as a criminal in order to defeat death once and for all. Do we want to be first in the world, or first in the kingdom of God?