The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, writes:

Your greatest achievement

How would you answer the question once posed to me; “So Stephen, what’s your greatest achievement?” You might answer by saying “I raised a family, refurbished a house, turned a wilderness into a garden, or overcame an addiction.” It’s fascinating how we measure achievements. If only I’d had amazing hand-eye coordination I could have opened for England in the T20 and scored 100 runs in 67 balls (Jos Buttler). But it wasn’t to be…

“So you are a king?” Pilate says to Jesus at his trial (John 18.37). Is this what Pilate aspired to? Could Pilate have longed to gain promotion from Roman Governor to King? We recently celebrated Christ the King Sunday and this was the Gospel reading.

Jesus, however, says to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world – in other words it is a radically different kingdom from the kind we might consider an achievement. The values of Jesus’ kingdom are totally the opposite. Success is sacrificial living, possessions are to be used and shared. Outward appearances count for nothing - it is what’s in the heart. The shepherd will search for a single lost sheep and the woman for a lost coin. And there’s great rejoicing in heaven because the lost is found.

We’re about to enter Advent on the way to Christmas. Worldly success and achievements are not front and centre. It’s not the rich business entrepreneur or politician with the message to transform the world. It’s a scary prophet whose home is the desert who has the message from God. It’s not the A-class celebrity couple with the perfect family who have the answers. It’s a man and a young woman who have a baby in circumstances less than ideal. And, what’s more, it’s the baby who is the focus!

I invite you to consider your greatest achievement as being a disciple of Jesus. And all of us as Church to measure our achievements by how faithfully we are Christ-centred and Jesus-shaped, living Christ’s story, passing on Good News and rejoicing with those who find their achievements in God’s kingdom.