Saturday, September 28, 2013

What's First? Sermon Sept 8 United Church of Beloit

Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither―
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Luke 14:25-33

The Cost of Being a Disciple

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters―yes, even their own life―such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

What a lovely Psalm! This one is considered to be a preparation for prayer :)

so what does it mean to meditate on the Law of the Lord...the Scriptures! The Word of God! The word here in Hebrew literally means to mutter or murmer the word to oneself repeatedly.

“Blessed is the one...” in Hebrew, the word blessed means not only to have God's favor, but means also to be guided by God, as in guided along a straight line. So when one is spending time in the word of God, learning it, pondering it by repeating it, until it sinks in! Keeping a thought or devotion, or prayer in front of you can have a profound effect on your day, helping transform your thinking into positive channels.
Then, one is like a tree growing by streams of water...a tree that thrives, that will always have green leaves and bear good fruit.

Our Gospel Lesson today is from Luke, continuing the various stories and encounters from Jesus' ministry as he is traveling along on his final trip to Jerusalem.

{READ Gospel}
it's a challenging passage isn't it? I find it interesting that Luke mentions “large crowds following Jesus' and he turns and says this to them. He knows what is awaiting him in Jerusalem, the crowds will cheer for him as a King, and only days later shout “Crucify him!”
his followers of course don't get this. He has told his disciples what is coming and they don't get it.

When he says here, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate...” it is a comparison. TO love less. Much less. He is saying to come to me, you must love me SO much that everything else you love, even the love for your dearest family members, will be nothing in comparison to the love you have for me! It will seem like you hate them because you love me so much!!

which brings me back to our Psalm....What really struck me here is the word “Delight”. To delight in the word of delight in prayer and bible devotional time! do we delight in our devotional time? Do we delight in our worship, in our prayer time? Or are these things to do, part of the routine, something we are comfortable with? something to tick off on the daily checklist?!

To come to Jesus, we must DELIGHT in him, in His love, so much that our love for everything else pales....because His love for us is like that!

I have a little story...when I was a kid, I had a few aunts uncles and cousins. There was one aunt and uncle who never had children of their own, so they spoiled the socks off of their nieces and nephews. And being with them, I always felt so special. I knew that they sent great gifts to all my cousins, but I always knew that I was the one they loved best.
Well, when I grew up and my uncle, then my aunt passed on, my cousins and I were talking, and it turned out that every one of us was convinced that we were the favorite. Somehow they managed to make ALL their nieces and nephews feel so special that each of us thought they loved us best.

That's how God's love is, the love of Jesus. He loves You BEST. And he loves YOU best. And he loves YOU best...and me too. Somehow, because He IS love, his love for each of us is the best. All of us is the favorite! He DELIGHTS in us!! so he asks us to delight in Him.

And Jesus says if we do not delight in him! If we do not love that much we can not be his Disciple. Because it's a hard road.
he seems to almost be antagonizing the followers?! Telling them to take up their own cross! They all knew what it meant to carry the cross, crucifixion was fairly common in these days, and the prisoner was made to carry the crossbeam on which he would be executed. Could it be that as the group was traveling along the road they passed an execution? That a prisoner was carrying his cross and Jesus used that imagery deliberately with the sight of a beaten bloodied man staggering under the weight of the load right there nearby?

I wonder if any of the followers said, oh well never mind I am outta here....

and Jesus talks about counting the cost...planning ahead, understanding what is needed. We do that with tangible things. With buildings, cars, even groceries! Well we are SUPPOSED to plan ahead, some people just use credit cards, but that's another story.... But our faith life is not tangible, so we may not 'count the cost' because we don't know how. So Jesus said we need to love Him SO very much that everything else in comparison seems like we hate it.

And we 'take up our cross' and I looked up the Greek word here for take up and it means to take up, bear, or lift up. So we bear the burden of our cross...our stuff. And I don't mean just the tangible stuff. Yes, that's what Jesus said in this text. But some of us are even more burdened by other things...frustrations, anger, unforgiveness, “if onlys” “if only-this...if only that, then my life would be perfect...” this is all stuff that can greatly impede our faith life. But other things, possessions, can and do get in the way of our faith life too. I do not believe that every one is supposed to give away all our possessions and money. But I think most of us-and I mean ME too!-- could simplify a LOT and life just as well...or better.

And yes there are other obstacles to our faith life. Your health maybe...yet you can always pray. And there is always something or someone to pray for! And maybe you are not sure you have a ton of faith...the kind of faith that someone else has. I felt that way for a long time. I actually thought I was not capable of that steady strong faith that I saw in others. And a friend said to me, 'you can pray for more faith'. And I did....and that is one of God's favorite prayers to answer!

We can pray for more faith and love, we can pray to delight in our Lord Jesus. And so to be better followers. We can pray to better live out His love. To Put Him first!

This is Rally Sunday, the start of a new program year in our church, new season of Bible study & Sunday school and choir! We can continue to pray about all those things, and pray for a new vision for this United Church of Beloit. We can pray to love our Lord and Love others as He would have us do. We can pray to help bring God's love and Shalom, that perfect peace to Beloit and beyond!

One of the best prayers for this is the Prayer of St Francis. I made copies of this lovely prayer for each of us, can we take those out and pray it prayer together.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


No comments:

Post a Comment