Thursday, June 28, 2007
Sermon for Sunday July 1, 2007
Sermon for July 1, 2007
St. James’, Goshen, IN
In the Gospel, just read, Jesus explains what we can and should not expect when we answer the call of Follow Me. In the story about the Apostles, Peter, James, Andrew and John being called to follow Jesus. They had been fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and responded to Jesus’ call to follow him, by immediately leaving their boats and nets and following Jesus.
But in the story today when a person is asked to be a follower, that fellow responded that first he had to go and bury his father. The call is to be answered immediately. No time to wait. It is not acceptable to say well ok I will follow Jesus later, after my parents have died and buried, after I have done lots of things in life, then I will answer the call.
In the middle ages it was customary to be baptized on your deathbed, so you could live a very sinful life. And just before you died you could be baptized with all the sinfulness forgiven, and then die. Not really very good theology. A little risky if you died before baptism, or recovered and lived. Nor is it a good understanding of Christian Forgiveness. Jesus died for the sins of the world -- all sins, everybody’s sins.
That is the point Paul has been pounding for the past several weeks in the Epistle to the Galatians. Sins have been forgiven. Been there; done that. Because sins have already been forgiven we live by Grace not by trying to keep the Law in order not to sin.
In the Old Testament the theological premise is fairly simple: be good, that is follow the Law, and good things will come to you. But if you do not keep the Law, be bad, bad things will happen. Sometimes the punishment for being bad might not happen to you, but to your children, or grandchildren. And if the nation did not keep the Law, bad things would happen to the nation. If you want to follow that line and look at our nation where our national governmental leaders do not even follow the laws and regulations of our government, you can make all kinds of dire predictions of our future. But that is not where I want to go today.
Look at what Jesus says about being one of his followers. Foxes have their holes, but the Son of Man does not have a place to lay his head. There is no guarantee that following Jesus, accepting a life of forgiven sins, will be easy. No guarantee that by following Jesus you will have a home, and trouble free life. This is a radical shift from the Old Testament theology. Of do good and have an good life, do bad and have a bad life. Following Jesus does not guarantee a easy life. In fact Jesus says, Pick up your cross and follow me. Pick up the pain and suffering of the world, even if you are homeless, a refugee, sick, or in prison; Pick up your cross and follow me.
Where did Jesus go with his cross? To death outside the gates of Jerusalem beside the main road to Jericho; buried in a garden tomb in the stone quarry when the stones of the temple had been taken, Buried in the stone that the builders had rejected. And where did he go? He descended into hell, and the third day, he arose from the dead. And where did he go? Forty day later he ascended into heavento sit at the right hand of God the Father.
If we try to live by Law, we are condemned by the law. But we live by Grace where the sins of the world are forgiven - all sin, everyone’ sin. We are all equal as forgiven children of God, joint heirs of the resurrection. We are not Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, we are all children of God, a part of the risen Body of Christ. We pick up our cross and follow Jesus, just as the thief crucified along side Jesus, and Jesus said to him Today you will be with me in Paradise.
Thanks be to God
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