Palm Sunday Mark 15:1-49

It reads a little bit like a crime procedural, or one of those television investigative reports. Mark walks us through the events leading up to the climactic end.
Jesus enters Jerusalem, is hailed as “Blessed One.”   Attention is lavished upon him by the crowds.  Young women anoint his feet with oil.  It’s a glorious start to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Sure, there is opposition by the leaders.  His message, while welcomed by the masses, offends the rich, the powerful, those in control.  They plot to remove him from the picture, carefully.
There is also discord among his own inner circle.   A traitor in the midst of the disciples, willing to sell him out, or perhaps Judas is eager to trigger the kind of confrontation which he assumes will lead to Jesus’ ascendance to the throne by  open revolt.
In any case, the mood changes.   Unjust charges are trumped up against Jesus, there are midnight intrigues, and a shoddy trial is hastily done.  There is a violent encounter with the guards. Reluctantly, the officials in power wash their hands of the whole affair and the man hailed as “Blessed” with palm branches is marched through the streets again, this time to be unceremoniously crucified with other criminals. His innocence is apparent, even to the Roman Soldier standing guard, who pronounces him “Son of God” at the end.

It is enough to fill an hour on any news outlet special report, make it to “Dateline” or “20/20.”

And, like a crime procedural we find ourselves going over the details of the story every Passion Sunday, and every Good Friday, believing that somehow if we just begin to comprehend what it is that happened, if we can dissect the events and the motivations of those involved, that we will somehow make sense of this thing called “The Passion.”

I don’t think it works that way.
I think if you approach the events of the death of Jesus, what we refer to as “The Passion” as a riddle to be solved or a puzzle to be worked out, you will miss the point of it completely.
This is not, in the end, about what happened to Jesus.
This is not about what his own followers did or didn’t do, to stand with him, betray him, abandon him, or witness the event.
This is not about the quest for political power. It is not about holding on to it, or fear of losing it, or the maneuvers to keep it.
It is not about the struggle between Pilate and Herod, or the machinations of the Chief Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees.
It’s not even really about Jesus; and that may seem a little strange, except tucked into this story is that little episode about Barabbas.
It seems that revolutionaries, Galilean prophets, purveyors of revolt or apocalyptic hopes were about a dime a dozen in those days. Any other name would have done if all this was about was Rome making an example of an insurrectionist. Any other prophet speaking against the Temple and its abuses would have suited just fine if this was just about a moment in history.
No, what this is about is God, and us.
This story plays itself out like a procedural, with all this detail, so that we have ample opportunity to think about where we would have sat in it as it unfolded.
Who do I identify with?
Who makes me squirm?
In whom do I recognize myself, my own actions, my own words, and my own frustrations?
This story is not about figuring out what happened to Jesus, or why.
This story is about recognizing how easily it happens again, and again. We humans are not quite done crucifying yet.
Oh, the bloody process used by the Romans, we don’t do that anymore. We have refined our methods now.
Now we pass laws that crucify. We make a public examples of the things of which we disapprove.

Hello Indiana.

Now we put in place policies that crucify. We tell ourselves that these things will make us safe, or that this will protect us, or that this will lead to an economic boom that raises all ships, or provides more jobs, or makes for safer streets.
Yes, we can assure peaceful neighborhoods with just the right application of fences, barriers, law enforcement, allowing “good people” to carry guns for protection and maybe add more layers of surveillance.
We are troubled sometimes by who gets the short end of these policies, but not so troubled that we would consider other courses of action.
“This must be done.” we reluctantly sigh to ourselves, or as a society, and so we find ourselves right there with Pilate, or with Caiaphas, or with the Sanhedrin, reluctantly letting injustice have its way for the sake of the “greater good.”
No, this story is not about what happened to Jesus exactly.  It is about what happens to us, still. How we get swept up with the events that overtake us, or how we cower when we should have stood tall, or how we denied that we even knew someone when our words of solidarity might have really counted.
This story is about us, and as I said, it’s about God.
It is about a God who seems peculiarly absent through it all, so much so that even Jesus will cry out from the cross the words of Psalm 22, either in prayer or in utter abandonment, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
It is about God, and how hard it is to find God in the events of life that sweep us up and drive us to action or distraction, or despair.
It is about God and what we see God do, for us.
God will die.
God will die on a cross, and will do so willingly, if that is what it will take before we are finally willing to consider other alternatives to the plans that we make for this world, and for ourselves.

A Lifting Conversation John 3:14-21

What are probably the most well known verses of the Bible?   Go to a ball game, and someone will be holding up a sign with “John 3:16” printed on it.  Take a drive down the road, and you’re likely to see it plastered on a car bumper, or spray painted on the side of a barn.  It shows up on billboards, on pocket fobs for your keys, and scrolls across computer screens.   We come to believe, after a while, that everyone knows this verse, and knows what this citation is about.

But let’s imagine together, just for a moment, that we don’t.

Let’s imagine that we can hear this saying of Jesus as Nicodemus did, for the first time.  It was spoken in the context of that late night meeting with Nicodemus that John tells us about.  Does that change how we think of it?  What we see in it?

This whole conversation with Nicodemus is a curious one.  It always seems to be operating at two levels, as if they are really talking past one another.

Nicodemus acknowledges that Jesus is a teacher, but comes to him by night, not wanting to be seen by his fellow rabbis.   He sees something in Jesus, but doesn’t want to publicly acknowledge it.

Jesus speaks to Nicodemus in incredibly intimate terms.  He talks of being born again.  He talks about being born of the Spirit.  He introduces this great teacher of Israel to a whole new way of thinking about relationship with God, and it is all gibberish to Nicodemus, who simply does not understand. And yet, Jesus continues to talk to him, personally, up close, in the night, and then the conversation begins to turn to global things.

It turns to Jesus being lifted up, as the Serpent was lifted in the Wilderness in Moses’ time, as a symbol for people to look toward in order to find healing and life.    This is a point at which Nicodemus, as a teacher of Israel, would have understood. “At last,a story I know!”  He would have known that story and puzzled over what it might means when Jesus speaks of it.

Jesus begins to speak of a kind of sorting and sifting that must take place, not so much by his hand, but one that happens as individual’s respond to God’s actions in sending his Son.   The sorting takes place in whether they love the light and come to it, or love the darkness.

It is a curious conversation, to say the least.   And like most curious conversations, what we tend to do when we find ourselves overhearing them is pick up what we want to hear and disregard the things of which  we can’t immediately make sense.

So, we tend to grab hold of John 3:16 and use it like some kind of magic phrase, put it on placards, and let the light and darkness stuff fade into the background noise.

But I think it is important to keep this little piece of scripture rooted in the Nicodemus conversation, because just as Nicodemus does not seem to understand what Jesus is saying to him, we miss what Jesus is saying to us.

There is a double “lifting up” that takes place in Jesus, and it happens not in signs and placards, but in the midst of conversation.  Jesus tells Nicodemus plainly what his actions, what God’s actions are going to be.  The Son of Man is going to be lifted up and held high for all to see.   Whoever believes in him has the possibility of entering into Eternal or everlasting life.

But how will that happen?   How will those who see him know if they have entered into that everlasting life which seems to start right now?

Ah, this is the second “lifting up!”, For here, Jesus turns his attention to us – “Those who believe in him are not condemned.”   Period.  Exclamation point!  This is the good news!  Believe in Jesus, look to him, and you are not condemned!  You have already entered into that life that is everlasting!

But, those who do not believe are condemned already.

Don’t think of this condemnation as God zapping people for not believing!   Condemnation does not come because God has it out for someone.  Remember, the point of God sending the Son was that the whole world should be saved.  The condemnation Jesus describes is not a God out to get folks, but rather it is the practical result of how folks respond to Jesus being lifted up, and to the conversation he wants to have with us!

If you come to him, look to him, talk to him, you’re in!

If you take a look and prefer the darkness, your own way of doing things, your life as it currently is, then the condemnation is upon you.

You can’t be both in John’s view of the world.  You can’t stand in the light and in the darkness at the same time!   When light comes, darkness is gone, and if you find yourself in darkness yet, it’s because you crawled back there, not because God consigned you to it!

So the second “lifting up” in John’s Gospel comes in the matter of your response, your actions now that you have seen Jesus.  “For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.”  This is just the way it works.  When does most crime happen?  In the night, in the dark, so that those who are out to do what they know they shouldn’t be doing in the first place will have better chance of doing it and getting away with it!  It’s all about slinking around, trying to get what you want under the radar – like Nicodemus himself!

What God is doing in Jesus is like throwing open the shades.   A God who has come down and is incarnate is visible.   No more secret stuff!  No hidden “Holy of Holies”.   No more God behind the veil, or shrouded in mystery and smoke.   No more wondering what God is up to in this world.   Here it is.   In Jesus, God comes to have a conversation with you!  He comes to have a conversation that leads you into light and life.  This is the model that Jesus will use over and over again

Think about it, Jesus will start a conversation with rough fishermen by the seashore, or with a tax collector mid money count, or he’ll point out the tax collector of short stature hiding out to glimpse him in a tree.  In each case those who weren’t really looking for it are invited into a conversation that reveals God in this world, doing a new and previously unrecognizable thing.

Think of the story of the woman who comes to touch the hem of his garment without him noticing, just to get a little healing, how he will not let that go unnoticed.

Or most importantly, what comes next in John’s Gospel, how after telling Nicodemus he has come not to condemn but to save, he goes with intention to Samaria to initiate a conversation with a woman by a well at high noon.  A woman who is out there at that time, when no one else comes for water, so that she won’t have to have awkward conversations. This is precisely when and where Jesus shows up, and begins a conversation.  He does it out in the air, out for all to see.  This is what God is up to in this world.

He comes to forgive sins.

He comes to heal the lame and the blind.

He comes to gladden the heart, and to give new birth.

He comes to save the whole world, and he does it by initiating conversations, often about the things that no one really wants to, or dares to talk about.  That is what God is up to, what is lifted up now for all to see in Jesus.

Now, the question becomes, and it starts with Nicodemus, what are you up to?  Are you still skulking around?  Are you still lurking in the shadows, just not so sure about this faith thing?   Are you still hoping that you can just slip through life unnoticed, unbothered by the call to discipleship, by the command of Jesus to serve and to live and to share the good news?

Are you hoping to keep your conversations with Jesus private, secluded, out of the sight and consideration of others?

Well, you can do that, but it will condemn you!  It will condemn you to missing that very Life that God in Christ Jesus has come to give!  It condemns you to wonder, and to worry and to fret.  Am I good enough?  Am I capable?  Am I loved?

You see, when you look to Jesus and start talking to him, you begin to realize that the life you have is a gift.  It comes to you as a free gift of grace.  It is Jesus who gives the Spirit, so that you can be born anew, have a fresh start in this life and in this world he came to save.

Hesitating when it comes to having that conversation with Jesus condemns you to the darkness of your own choosing.  It condemns you to the holding back of yourself.  It condemns you to the failure to love as deeply as you know you should, to live as freely as you know you could.

This is the condemnation experienced!   Seeing the light, you prefer the safety and reassuring anonymity of your own darkness to being lifted up by Jesus, with Jesus, – as an example of what it means to have everlasting life, Kingdom life.

This is the double lifting in this story.  It is what Jesus is trying to get Nicodemus to understand.  You can’t come slinking to Jesus in the night to get your answers.  You only get them when you throw your lot in with him completely!  You can start your conversations with Jesus in private, but eventually they will force you to go public, as he did, for to find that life he promises you have to live, and you can’t live when you’re slinking around in secret.  That is no kind of life to have!

It is a curious conversation that Jesus engages us in.   One that will not just let us be with him in secret, but one that leads us to witness, to tell our story and the story of Jesus, and in lifting that up, we find life.  That’s what happens for Nicodemus. The one who slinks to see Jesus at night at the start of the Gospel becomes the one who will come after the crucifixion to very publicly reclaim the body.  He moves from trying to stay anonymous to publicly witnessing his love and devotion.

This is the conversation that Jesus engages us in.   It is a conversation that leads to light and to life and it will change us.  Are you ready for that conversation?

“Business As Usual No More” John 2:13-22

What is it that upsets Jesus today?

Is it the presence of animals in the temple?  Probably not, it is Passover, and the sacrifices of cattle and sheep and doves would have been commonplace and required for this festival.  Surely Jesus has nothing against Passover!  He himself would celebrate it, and would transform it when he reaches for bread and cup to give it a new meaning.

Is it the moneychangers?  Again, it would be hard to imagine that he has any particular complaint with them because all these folks are doing is simply providing a vital service.   They are changing pagan coins that bore the image of Caesar, (who had proclaimed himself a god,) for temple coins.  This was necessary to comply with the first of the ten commandments, that one should not make graven images.  Jesus himself will later answer questions about the commandments.  They will ask him, “which is the greatest commandment”, he will respond that the first commandment is the greatest – You shall have no other gods except God.

No, as we begin our look at this scripture passage today, it appears that in every way the Temple seems to be operating exactly the way it is supposed to run.   It is “business as usual” at the Temple.   So then, why does Jesus suddenly start running around turning over tables and driving people and animals out?

In Matthew, Mark and Luke, this story comes at the end of Jesus’ ministry.  It is the capstone event, the one that turns the Temple Authorities, Priests and Sadducees against him, the final straw that sets in motion the plans to get rid of Jesus.

But in John’s Gospel, this story comes right up front, and those who have suffered at Jesus’ whip of cords do not seem to be so much angry as confused.

“What sign can you show us for doing this?”  They ask.

Those who have been routed, those who have watched what has taken place, aren’t plotting against Jesus.  They see his actions as being in line with the prophets of old, and so they ask now for a sign.

The sign that Jesus gives is that it is no longer the Temple that has taken 46 years to build that is important.   No longer is this building and its practices important.   Now the Temple to be recognized and dealt with is Jesus himself.  “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Disciples remember this, and realize what he is talking about later – but not now.

Probably no one else in the Temple that day had a clue about what Jesus was saying either.    But what Jesus seems to be saying here has profound meaning not just for Jesus day, but for ours as well.

With Jesus on the scene now, “Business as usual” in the Temple just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Everything is taking place exactly the way it is supposed to, always has during the Passover, but now, with Jesus on the scene, just attending to business isn’t good enough.  “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace – a place where we simply attend to the religious business.

We have a habit of trying to put that into some perspective for ourselves.   We read this lesson, and shake our heads at those poor folks who lived so long ago and who just  couldn’t see that because Jesus was in their midst, all the rites and rituals and old stuff of the Temple wasn’t that important anymore.  They couldn’t see that what Jesus was more interested in than buildings and transactions and sacrifices was the Kingdom and relationships.

But I wonder, as we read this lesson, what Jesus would do if he were to show up here?

This text cuts at us as well, for quite often what we long for and try to maintain is “business as usual” when it comes to church.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with “business as usual” here.  In fact, predictability is important to the rhythm of life.

Except…..

Except now that Jesus is on the scene, just attending to “business as usual”  doesn’t cut it anymore.   “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”   Those are the words that sting and strike at us today.’

Is that all this place has become?   Are we a place to gather and get our weekly recommended allowance of forgiveness and piety?  Do I treat this place like a store, a place to come and get my religion?

Is that all this place has become?   Is it a location where I can shop for the things that I need?   I can get a little forgiveness, a little healing, maybe some inspiration or practical help.  I stop by and peruse the shelves of the sermon, or the hymns, or the prayers like I look over the shelves at Target, picking up what I need and leaving the rest?

Is that all this place has become?  Has it become a marketplace of values and ideas, a place to get a little bible learning and as a bonus, I can get a donut on Sunday morning!

Even in our serving and our ministry, I wonder sometimes if we have become too much of a marketplace, and I mean that in the best sense of that term.

The Temple in Jerusalem was the place for the care of the widow, and orphan, and the sojourner. It was the food pantry of its day.  People looked to it for supplemental support.

Is that also the case at St. James?  Have we come to see our own identity in our food pantry, or in our connection with MLM as the main thing?  A new marketplace where you can stop by and get a meal, or get groceries, or get help with your rent or utilities?

Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with “Business as usual” in that area either, but that is not good enough!   That is not all that there is to church!

What is offered here now is nothing less than a relationship with the risen and dynamic Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who comes to make a claim upon your life.

You didn’t come here shopping for Jesus,

Jesus came into this world to find you.

It is because Jesus has found you that you find yourself here now.  It is because Jesus has a claim on your life that you have become a part of this loving and caring community of believers who are led by the Holy Spirit!

But the Holy Spirit does not lead us into a “business as usual” kind of life.

The Spirit drives us to serve, and to love and to care for others, and for each other.

The Spirit drives us to challenge the way things are, and to catch a vision for how God would imagine, dream them to be when the Kingdom is fully here.

You didn’t come here shop for what you need, you were driven here to be driven more!

That is what Jesus is up to in the Temple.  No longer is it just a place to come, now it is place from which you will be driven.

You will be driven to re-examine your life.

You will be driven to serve.

You will be driven to look for ways to reach out and witness, driven to be part of that Kingdom that God has come to establish in Christ Jesus.

It’s not about a building anymore, it is about a body.  That’s what Jesus drives at, and what he is willing to drive people out at the end of a whip to get them to see.

We are in peril if we forget that!

We run the risk of missing Jesus’ own critique of the Temple if we forget that the goal of Jesus was not just to feed the hungry, or to open the scriptures, or to heal the sick, but it was to bring in a Kingdom that was marked by a very different kind of community.  It was to be a community that cared and that acted as one body, because they were to be united in Christ.

That’s what I worry about as Pastor, both in my own actions and in the actions of the passionate, driven people who gather here.

I worry sometimes that we get so wrapped up in the business, in getting things done, or the “business as usual” that we are willing to sacrifice relationships with one another to get our way, or to get done what we think must be done.

I worry that we will get so wrapped up in in our own agendas that we will forget the main thing that Jesus comes to accomplish, which is to bring in his Kingdom that allows us to gather as one body.

You are the Body of Christ, turned loose on this world, but you are still called to gather, to experience community, and to use this location as a base from which to launch your operations in this world.

The real stuff of who you are is found not in a building, but in a Body.

That’s why with full confidence Jesus can say, “go ahead, tear this thing down, but it won’t stay down!  In Three Days I’ll build it up again!

He’s for sure not talking about a building built with stone.

He’s talking about his own body and the disciples who are connected to each other because of him.

What is it that upsets Jesus today?

It’s not so much that he is upset as that he is modeling the Kingdom.

No more do we let everything revolve around a building, or a program, or a way of doing things.  No matter how successful or well-oiled that process might be, or what good it might be doing, “business as usual,” no matter how good it is, is just not good enough!

Christ came to drive us out into the world so that we can make a difference there.   He came so that God’s Kingdom might become known out there.

But he brings in that Kingdom by gathering and calling to the Body.  Not as an end to itself, but to be equipped for what you will face out there.  For you will only be able to face what awaits you out there if you are grounded in Christ and in one another!

That is what empowers you for service.  Anything less than that and you will simply burn out.  Anything else becomes simply “business as usual” from which you will eventually burn out.

So no more “business as usual.”

From now on, with Jesus on the scene, its all about the body, and how we become that Body of Christ to a world in need.

“Do I Have Your Attention?” Mark 8:31-38

It takes quite a lot to get our attention.  It always has.

We wouldn’t have most of the stories in the Old and New Testament if it was easy for God to get our attention.

There would be no need for the stories of creation, fall and flood if we could easily see God at work in our midst.  Those stories have a fantastic weight to them precisely so we will take notice, pay attention when God steps in to this world.

Abraham wouldn’t have had to have wandered from his homeland if following God were a simple matter.   It is the pilgrimage, the promise of something better than the farm back in Ur that propels him forward.

The ancient Sarah wouldn’t have had to endure childbirth at her advanced age if following God and trusting in God’s promises were an easy matter.   It is precisely because childbirth as an old woman is such a preposterous idea that God intervenes in this way.  The God of all life can make life happen when and where God chooses.

There wouldn’t have had to have been the horrific stories of the Exodus, the battles of the Conquest, the wonderings in the Exile if humans could easily and clearly discern the activity and the desire of God.

So it shouldn’t be a big surprise to us today when Jesus begins to talk about what it will be necessary for him to undergo in order for God to get our attention.   He speaks plainly, we are told, to his disciples of the events of Jerusalem.

You will see my suffering.

You will see my suffering at the hands of the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes.

You will see my death, one that is devoid of justice, at the hands of the Romans.

You will need to see a resurrection before you get the point, before you understand what I have come to show you and to teach you.

Jesus says all this quite plainly.   Bad times are coming, and you will need to see them, face them, and live through them in order to understand the call that God makes upon your own life.

Peter tries to deflect Jesus’ gloominess.  Taking him aside, one can well imagine perhaps Peter putting an arm around Jesus and whispering lowly in his ear,

“You don’t want to talk like this Jesus.   Don’t talk of sacrifice, of death, of depressing things to us.   The people come to you, we come to you hoping to hear some good news!   Don’t be such a downer, Jesus.”

“Get behind me, Satan.”  Jesus says to that, “For you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things.”

Oh, here is the crux, quite literally, of the matter!

We are, all of us, most often just interested in our own comfort, security, and safety.  That is the deep truth about who we are as humans.  We don’t want to hear about bad times.

We want someone to fix everything for us, but don’t talk to us about suffering, sacrifice, or dying!

But that is precisely what Jesus sets us up to do in this lesson. He fairly throws it in our face, in the face of the crowd and of his disciples.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

“If any want…..”   Maybe that is the key question.  Who wants this, really?

Who wants to follow a Crucified Messiah?

Who wants to come after one who sets impossibly high expectations of his followers, expecting them to do nothing short of a total reordering of the world as we know it?

Who wants to follow in the footsteps of Jesus?   We are enamored with the miracles of course.   We’d like that power, that ability, but it scares us as well.  We’re acutely aware that as the miracles unfolded, what most often accompanies them is conflict!

Who wants to follow a savior who causes a constant questioning of authority, and demands that those who follow him will leave behind their empty piety, comfortable as it is, in order to come to a living faith.

Who really wants this?  A call to deny one’s self?  That’s a real hard sell in our time and in our economy.  This nation is built not on denying the self, but rather on iindulging the self and all its pleasures.  Consume, get a newer, better, faster, fancier… widget.   That’s what drives the world.  That’s what makes us great. That’s the measure of our worth, of our value, and of our status.

Do I have your attention yet?  Nobody wants this!

But this is what we need!

We need it precisely because our wants won’t let us do the things that make for life!

Like so many other folks of my “age”… I have reached the point at which I can no longer take things for granted.

It used to be that I could eat anything I wanted, and as much of it as I wanted.  But now, doing what I “want” packs pounds on my body the way a spatula smoothes frosting on a cake!

I don’t “want” to exercise!  Who wants that?  I never did like to sweat, and walking makes my ankles and shins scream bloody murder at first!

But, I now I “need” it!  It’s the only way to keep the muscle tone, fight off the excess weight, lower my blood pressure and those other essential numbers that are creeping up on me.  What I “want”… to just sit and sip a refreshing beverage while relaxing all the time… is killing me!

It isn’t until I finally come to the point of recognizing that what I truly “want”… a healthier, fuller life, is greater than my daily “wants” that I can choose the life amending ways of what I truly need.  It is when I see the big picture that I can begin to walk the path of self sacrifice that in the long run makes me into what I truly need to be.

At this pivotal point in the Gospel Jesus makes clear to his disciples that they can no longer take things for granted.  Not their relationship with him.  Not the way their daily life has been unfolding up to now. Doing what they “want”….following Jesus without the suffering death on the cross and resurrection, will not make for life!

It is the same for us.  A casual faith, a faith that focuses only on what we “want” does not lead to life!

It leads to flabbiness of faith.

It leads to creeping numbers in a church that are far too easy to ignore.

It leads to far too much comfort with the way things as they are, and not enough challenge for the way God wants things to be.

Here is the truth of it, we understand Peter completely in this story!  We understand the desire to turn Jesus from the hard path, because that will make things easier for us!

But, easier for us does not lead to life!

“If any of you want to become my followers,” Jesus says “let them deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.”

It isn’t until we recognize the shadow of the Cross over us that we are finally able to do the hard thing, that one thing that makes for life.

It isn’t until we can move beyond talking about what it is that we want that we can begin to talk about God’s call, and then we can perceive what we truly need!

We need, God needs us to be part and partner with him in the redemption of the world!

With our last breath..,

with our last dollar…,

with the swallowing of all personal pride…

with the dropping of every grievance, grudge and complaint…

with the putting aside of our personal privilege and comfort…

We say that we want to be part of God’s work in this world, but this is what will need to happen for that to take place.  This is what it will take for us to do it, all of those things above and probably more, because what Jesus invites us into this day is the way of the cross.

We do want to be part of the incoming Kingdom of God, for we know deep in our hearts that this Kingdom will come of its own accord.  There is no stopping it.

The question is, will it come also among us?  Will we be part of what makes it break in on this world, or will we be so preoccupied filling our own wants and needs and desires that we miss the call of God?

Do I have your attention yet?

There is promise in this Gospel for today, but it comes at a hard price.  This is the invitation to do what Bonhoeffer reminded us to do in his little book, “The Cost of Discipleship”

“When Christ calls a person, he bids him come and die.”  Bonhoeffer said.

It isn’t what we want.

It is what we need.

So, Lord Jesus, help us to so die to the old self, and to all the things of this world that cling to us so tightly, and we to them.

Help us to follow where you have led the way