This week I'm giving the assembly talks at Newlands School and the title the school gave me was 'greatness.' That made me think about what makes somebody great.
Fame? Tiger Woods is certainly famous, and is an excellent golfer, but, given the way he has let down his family, can we really call him great? Helana Bonham Carter is a superb actress and has no doubt been called a great actress, but is being an actress sufficient to make you really great? Maybe we should look wider, to those who have significantly influenced the world.
Examine three men who changed the course of the 20th century - Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao. Three men of huge influence, but if I went around Maidenhead and asked people to name some great people, would any of these three even get a mention? I doubt it: we don't normally associate ruthlessness and abuse of power with greatness. From the 20th century, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King would surely be more worthy choices.
But if we are looking for the one person who has had the most influence on the world, whose reputation has stood the test of 20 centuries and is probably the most revered person ever to walk the earth, we should look no further than Jesus Christ. Born into a working class family in a remote part of first century Palestine, Jesus has been regarded as the greatest by more people over more years than anyone else who has ever lived. He must know something about greatness.
This is what he said about it to his closest associates: 'The other nations have rulers. You know that those rulers love to show their power over the people, and their important leaders love to use all their authority. But it should not be that way among you.
Whoever wants to become great among you must serve the rest of you like a servant. Whoever wants to become the first among you must serve all of you like a slave.' The greatest among you will be your servant! What makes someone great is not power, wealth or celebrity. What makes someone great is their contribution to the lives of others.
This Eastertide gives you the opportunity to hear again the story of the most important events in the life of the greatest person who has ever lived, the one who gave his life that we might be reconciled to God and who The Father resurrected that first Easter Day. Why not come and join us? Details of our Easter services are here>>.