Willing to Follow Jesus?

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

The Good News is freeing,

The Gospel is challenging

And Jesus,

Are we willing

To follow Him?

Amen.

(pause)

 

It’s been 15 years,

15 years

Since I returned from my wanderings

Back Home.

I believe I may have shared this story before,

But it is an important one,

Because we as humans,

Want God

To show us

Before we will follow

Before we will take that risk.

15 years when I walked down an aisle

At Trinity UCC

Returning to the Creator’s arms

And I thought,

Everything would be alright

That all of the answers I sought

Would be clearer

That I would be filled with the Holy Spirit

As vibrant and as grounded,

As many God-filled and fearing women

I knew in my circles.

(pause)

15 years later

I find myself irate with the Creator

Last year,

Weeping for the Charleston 9

I had the opportunity to drive out to camp,

Taking the little Gator buggy

I just raced out onto the empty prairie

Driving as fast as my grief would carry me

Why God why?

Why them?

And why don’t you God,

Do something about it?

And don’t dare tell me

I have to forgive

Or still pray for those

Who are bound and determined

To harm others,

Who are different,

Who express their faith in the Creator in beautiful ways

Don’t remind me, God

That if these people

Who have come into our communities

Wiped away lives so easily

If they come to you,

Humbled

Contrite

Remorseful

That they are forgiven?

(pause)

We as people of faith

Struggle with the knowledge

The Truth of the Gospel,

That God’s Grace

Mercy

Forgiveness

Is for every living,

Breathing

Soul.

Can we admit, beloved

That sometimes we hope

That Jesus Christ,

Just once

Would reject those

Less deserving,

Just as the disciples here

In our Gospel this morning,

Did with the Samaritans

When they seemingly

Rejected

Jesus.

(pause)

The Samaritans

Were

Despised

There was no love lost between them

And the Jews.

Why?

The Jews held Jerusalem as Holy Ground

The Samaritans, Mount Gerizim

The Samaritans proclaimed that they

Were descended from the 10 lost tribes

Taken into Assyrian captivity

That their version of the Pentateuch is valid and true,

When the Jews returned from exile,

They found strange people,

Inhabiting their land

Worshiping the same Hebrew God

But still uplifting,

Recognizing

The original gods, angels, spirits

Of their people

In other words,

The Samaritans were deemed not to be as faithful

Orthodox,

Just as sometimes

We as Christians are quick to condemn others

Simply because they do not things the right, scripted way,

And instead,

Only want to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead

Because that is where,

They

Experience

The fullness

And richness

Of God

(pause)

So it’s the same knee jerk reaction

That descends upon the disciples

Even though

They have been taught

Witnessed

The Love of the Creator God,

Through Jesus

For all people

Regardless

(pause)

But Jesus,

Sounds agitated

Right?

He rebukes

Admonishes

His disciples

We don’t know what Jesus said to them..

But the word in the Biblical Greek,

ep-ee-tee-mah’-o

Suggests harsh action-

For Jesus has rebuked Peter when he spoke out of turn,

Rebuked the devil through his lies

The winds which were violently out of control,

Sickness and death,

When it attempted to take a little girl’s life.

(pause)

I wonder,

In the midst of all of the infighting,

The destruction

Of many lands

Squabbled over

Which belong to

Created by,

A Loving God

These lands where blood flows frequently

Where selfish desires are rampant

I wonder

Would they even listen to our Risen Savior Jesus Christ

If Jesus stood in the midst of the Gaza Strip

And rebuked humanity,

To STOP the convicting of one another

(pause)

But the Samaritans rejected Jesus!

Or,

Were they afraid?

Because Jesus Christ’s

“face was set towards Jerusalem”

We miss what the beginning of this passage states

The significance

Jesus was going to confront the oppression,

Because where Jesus goes,

He always breaks the taboos

Who Jesus is,

Shatters reality

Because Jesus comes

To give everyone,

ALL

A sense of Peace

And Grace

Regardless of social status

Or political alignment

Or ancestral lineage

And Jesus would do this,

Through His teachings

His Miracles

And yes,

His Death.

(pause)

And Jesus stirring up this trouble,

To the Samaritans

Meant trouble for them

So if they allowed Jesus to be among them,

Already marked as a maligned

Subjected people,

The wrath of whatever Jesus was planning to do

Would come raining down upon them

Like a plague.

They are fearful,

Just as we sometimes become, beloved

(pause)

Who Jesus is, was

And continues to be

Is frighteningly countercultural

The cross, we find

When we accept this journey

When we accept and embrace Christianity

Is not a symbol of valor or might-

But of awkwardness

Ugliness

Difficult

And treacherous.

It means that we have to drop everything

And follow Jesus

Regardless

And that is so hard!

Practicing what we preach and teach,

Leaning on Jesus Christ,

Jesus who we do not have the joy of physically seeing

Or touching

As the disciples were able

Is HARD

Doing what the Risen Christ commands us to do

Is TERRIFYING

Because it means,

We have to go against the grain,

We have to show up

Be public witnesses

Speak out

Be BOLD, right?

(pause)

Even though

There seems to be no comfort

In these texts this morning,

Jesus says,

“Follow me”

The Good News is,

Jesus does not abandon us

Reject us

But tells us

To follow Him.

Follow Him even when things are difficult

Spiral out of our control

Make absolutely NO SENSE

Goes against the status quo

Or even,

When we are rejected by others

Because we choose to walk His path

Of Love.

(pause)

The Risen Son beckons me to focus on Him and follow Him

The Holy Spirit infuses me and empowers me to never be afraid

to express my RIGHTEOUS ANGER

God, the Creator who fills my heart and shakes my spirit

Tells me its alright

Alright to get angry

With those who are not following GOD’s COMMANDMENT

Of Love

But that it is the Creator God

Who has the power

to TRANSFORM

Even

the Darkest

of

Hearts

(pause)

Thanks Be to God.

 

 

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