Call to Worship: Great in His Kingdom

By Raeben Nolan, art by Martin French

This Call to worship was originally given on 2/12/17 at Imago Dei Central City Campus. 

Mark 10: 42-43 Jesus called His disciples and said to them “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it shall not be so among you, whoever would be great among you must be a servant.”  

At her twenty-week ultrasound, my sister found out that her daughter was not great.  Somewhere between how severe, and will she survive? There were no answers but that week they named her Sparrow. Sparrow Lillian, for the birds of the air, for the lilies of the field, for the ones that must trust in God. Sparrow was born small and strange.  She may never run, she may never talk, she cannot see much, but she laughs at all the sounds of the world. She will never be great, except in a Kingdom where all are needy. 

For my sister, five years later, every day is a commitment. Every day a sacrifice of spoon feedings, big-girl diapers, and physical therapy.  A sacrifice of her art, her time, her space, her body, her "self."  Yet, I have seen my sister’s heart transform.  From an anxious thing, fretting and fearful, to a singing thing, gracious and growing wise. She’ll never be great, except in a Kingdom of servants.

Jesus said His Kingdom was near. Here and not yet. I have seen it. In places like my sister's kitchen in Seattle, where she serves the least and rests at the right hand of God. I wish to see more of this Kingdom but my experience lately is of an empire so great that we have no room for immigrants and refugees.  A place with a very little value of the Sparrows of the world. I hope to see this empire of abusive greatness, this golden head with feet of clay, toppled.  But I do not expect deliverance to come from political revolution.  I mean, can you even imagine an empire where the leaders compete to see who can best serve the vulnerable?  Can you even envision a financial structure where profit is measured in justice and generosity?  I can’t, I cannot imagine an empire like this. 

But I have heard of a Kingdom to come.  That Kingdom comes riding on a donkey, that Kingdom comes blessing the children, that Kingdom comes with blind men running towards healing and paraplegics being lowered from the rafters. That Kingdom comes carrying a disabled child on her back.  That kingdom comes to serve rather than to be served.  That Kingdom comes to drink the cup of suffering and be baptized in death. 

Imago Dei Community, how will you participate in the coming of this Kingdom?


Each Sunday, the Call to Worship is designed to lead us into uniting our actions, intentions, and emotions in loving response to God. For more information about creative liturgy and how to get involved, email arts@idcpdx.com