Recently a school teacher stood in the narthex with this blank stare on her face. I asked what the matter was. “Summer is going too fast.” She said. I am sure that for a school teacher every summer day is precious especially after summer breaks have grown so much shorter. But what interested me was I didn’t have the feeling that a real summer break had even started. Now, that is not just me, but it includes many of us. This has been one busy summer for our staff and volunteers. But if we are honest with each other, being a disciple of Christ is never ending.
This Sunday, I will focus on the Gospel. The text is the beginning of a section is Luke referred to as the “traveling section”. It begins with Jesus setting his eyes like flint on heading to Jerusalem. As he started out, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” This was Jesus’ way of saying you can’t make this journey. And he was right. At the end of his journey he was alone.
Nevertheless, he asks us to follow Him. If it wasn’t possible to follow Him to the end then, how is it possible now? We can’t die for the world’s sins or even save our own behinds. Jesus did that for us. Jesus opened the door for us to love one another. Jesus released us from our own bondage to sin and freed us to serve our neighbor. That service to another is never ending. In fact, it can be the joy of our life IF we see it as a response to His love.
That may be the key to how we do this year round. It isn’t a burden but a joy, a response of thanksgiving for the journey Jesus took in our behalf.
The text shows us another response that we should not imitate. When the disciples ran into a rough patch and a group of people in a village were not welcoming to their message about Jesus, James and John suggested bringing fire down upon them. Let’s cook them, Jesus. Wow! What is that about? Does that come from arrogance, fear, or burnout? It came before the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension changed all that. Or did it?
In our baptism and confirmation vows, we promise to “live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”
How does Jesus’ life example, the practices of the church, the promises of our parents at our baptism, and the vows we take at confirmation fit into our world now? Does this shape how you love others and show your love for God? Does Jesus’ life, death and resurrection shape how you dialogue with your neighbor and strangers? Is this what guides your day-to-day life?
We live in a divided nation and world now. I am not so sure that it was that much different in Jesus’ time. They struggled with the divisions among people then. Jesus spent his life trying to teach them another way. Jesus died offering us a different way, a way of sacrificial love. We are free from the bondage of sin and death and we are now servants to God and neighbor out of love and thankfulness for what Jesus did for us in his death and resurrection.The key to these thankful and servile hearts is in gathering around God’s word and promises in worship and Bible study, in partaking of the Lord’s Supper, in sharing this wonderful good news of Jesus Christ with the world. Also in serving our neighbor, and in advocating for peace and justice in the world.
None of us can do this alone. We were built for community. We need God and each other to remain strong in our caring for another. Church isn’t an option; it is essential to our faith journey.
These past few months many of you have been stepping up and serving God in many ways. I am grateful to you. For by what you do and say for others, you are an encouragement to me. You give me hope in this broken world. You remind me that God’s promise of life is this world is not some pipe dream. It is real. When children are cared for, the stranger is welcomed, the hungry are fed, the vulnerable are supported, the sinful are forgiven, the lost are encouraged. I have hope and hope in Christ gives me encouragement that a broken world can be made new.
Stay strong my friends. Imagine that love and peace and justice is not a dream but a promise of God.
In His Service, Pastor Bob