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Sermon texts and audio 4-29-12

I John 3:16-24; John 10: 11-18

 

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1 John 3:16-24

16We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? 18Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 19And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him

20whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 22and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

23And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

 

 

John 10:11-18

11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gospel of John is problematic for many reasons. The first is that this gospel, more so than the other three is polemical. It is not only written for one community of people. It is written against another group of people. In particular, it is a polemic against the Pharisaic temple leadership, the code name used through out the Gospel is “the Jews”. Whenever you see “the Jews” in the gospel of John, it is referring to the Pharisaic leadership, not a slam against all of Judaism as it has been tragically interpreted in the past. So that’s one problem.

 

The second problem I have with John is the style. Jesus’ words are far more enigmatic in John. Jesus’ words seem to bounce from one point to the next without any real connecting points at times and we’re left scratching our heads as to what the gospel writer is trying to communicate.

 

Third, and we’ll deal with all of these, but this is where I really want to spend our time this morning, is that fact that John, more so than the other Gospels makes claims both about the divinity of Christ and the exclusivity of salvation through Christ that are troubling, and divisive in a multicultural interfaith world.

 

So let’s deal with John. The fourth gospel was written possibly as late as 90 CE, a good deal after Jesus’ earthly ministry, and two decades after Jerusalem was sacked by Rome and temple was destroyed. What survived after the temple was the beginnings of rabbinical Judaism, not based on the temple for worship, but based on teachers who would guide and interpret the law. Pharisees were part of that rabbinical tradition and Jesus himself taught in the Pharisaic tradition, though it is evident that the content of his teaching was very different than other Pharisees.

 

The polemic here is that Jesus is a different kind of leader. He is a good shepherd, not just in terms of morality, but in terms of compassion, mercy, and love. Again, English does us a disservice in having only one word for good. “Agathos” is the greek word for morally good. “Kalos” which is the word that Jesus uses here is not about moral quality, but about goodness of heart. Caring, compassion, loving. The Pharisees, were “good” in the moral sense. They followed the laws. They did the things that were considered to be upstanding. Jesus demonstrates a goodness that goes beyond morality to compassion.

 

This compassion becomes self evident in sacrifice. This is really at the core of the Gospel message. God’s love is manifest in a kind of love that is able to reach outside of its own need and see the need of others. A love that is willing to give up its own comfort in order to be of service to others.

 

But wait a minute… this can’t really be a polemic about Jesus vs. the Pharisees, can it? How is that helpful? Sure it’s a good story. It gives Jesus antagonists, and that’s fun, but does it help us? Well it doesn’t if we take it out of the context of the whole of the Gospel of John. If we tie it in to what we heard on Maundy Thursday, then it begins to become clear. This love that the good shepherd shows for the sheep is the same love that we are to have for each others. It is the same care that Peter is told to show for the sheep at the end of John’s gospel. The role of shepherd transfers from Jesus to his followers. Okay, so far so good….

 

But then Jesus throws out that he has sheep that are not of this flock, but will hear his voice. What on earth can that possibly mean? It could simply be a nod to the fact that the movement that Jesus and his disciples began would be one that included Jews and gentiles and people from all nations. But even that begs a question: a sheep that belongs to Christ?

This is probably a different question than what you might think I am asking. I’m not asking do we know who is saved or not. I honestly don’t believe that that is a question for us to try to answer. But I do think there is a couple of threads here that need to be tied together.

 

As I put these together, I can’t help but think of two things related to Mahatma Gandhi. One of my favorite quotes of his was speaking to a group of Christians he claimed ““I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Could it be that Gandhi heard the voice of Christ maybe better than some of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus? It’s easy to argue that someone who chose the weapon of non-violence to resist a system that dehumanized people knew quite a bit about what Jesus was up to.

 

Here’s the second story related to Gandhi: It actually was in the preview for Rob Bell’s controversial book “Love Wins” that came out last year. In the preview, Bell talks about an art show that his church held. One of the artists produced a piece of artwork that had a quote on it from Gandhi, I think it was Be the change you want to see in the world. One of the attendees of the art show asked the artist, “why would you put a quote from Gandhi on your art? You know he’s in hell because he wasn’t a Christian”

 

I can’t stand this kind of thinking. For some reason we’re supposed to believe that a God of love will condemn people to eternal damnation because they didn’t believe a certain creed or sign on to a confession, despite the way that they lived their lives? I don’t buy it.

 

Here’s what I do buy: there are people in this world who live into the values of the kingdom of God. People who respond to the voice that calls out for mercy and justice in the world. There are people of goodwill in of every race, nationality, and every religion and I often find that I have more in common with those outside my own tradition who believe in peace and justice than those within it who believe in violence and domination. I would rather work with those who believe in non-violence and who love selflessly who hold to a different faith or no faith at all, than those of proclaim my faith tradition but are interested only in themselves.

 

In 2010 we met Daisy Khan. Khan is married to the Imam who was behind the Cordoba initiative also known as the Ground Zero Mosque. We heard her speak at the Chautauqua Institute and I was so amazed by her graciousness in response to questions, particularly when those questions were outright disrespectful of her faith. As we had a chance to listen to her story and share a meal with her, the impression that she left me with was that she wanted the same things out of the world that I do. She believed in justice, and compassion, and non-violence AND she was frustrated with those of her own faith who used their religion as an excuse to make war. It was not hard at all to find common ground with her. If love is at the heart of Christ’s teaching, then isn’t possible that those who love, in selfless ways as the good shepherd himself loved, isn’t it possible that they are one with us as well? That they are of the same fellowship, whether or not they proclaim the same faith?

 

The letter of first John makes it clear that love is shown, not in the words we proclaim, but in the actions that we take. Do we truly believe that Christians have the market cornered on loving action? Do we really think that we have mastered the notion of self sacrificial love? One my favorite stories last year, during the Arab Spring uprisings of last year, was about a group of Muslims in Egypt who went out of their way to protect the Coptic Christians in Cairo from the chaos that was swirling in the streets so that they could get to and from their worship services in safety. It was a beautiful picture of love in action.

 

What’s at stake in this conversation? Quite a bit. One of the great challenges in this age, where people across the globe are becoming more connected and more religious at the same time, we have to ask ourselves what role will our faith play? Will we be people who draw lines in the sand around doctrine, creeds, and confessions or will we open ourselves up to dialogue with people who may not share our confessions, but share our goals. Will the fact that we speak different words or call the infinite God by different names get in the way of the fact that we share similar values and common cause?

 

When we lived in Portland during the summer of ’06, we found ourselves connected to a group of friends and neighbors, most of whom were very “unchurched”, some atheists, some spiritual but not religious, some outright atheist. As we got to know this group of people during the summer, it was really hard to condemn them for not wanting to go to church on Sundays. During the week they were caring teachers, social workers, advocates for environmental justice, and case workers. I sort of got the sense at times that they were too busy making the world a better place to go to church. The Church hasn’t had the best track record in many people’s eyes, so sometimes we have to work a little harder to build bridges to those who are about the work of justice and peacemaking in the world without the perceived baggage that the church brings with it.

 

And at the same time, we cannot lose the unique power and witness that our faith brings to the table. I hope that you have been following what has been going on with the Leadership conference of Women religious, the group of catholic nuns who have been formally reprimanded by the Vatican for their stances on homosexuality and challenging the notion of a male-only priesthood while simultaneously doing amazing works of love and compassion with the poorest of the poor in the world. One of the nuns, Sister Joan Chittister was a speaker at a conference I attended several years ago. She is an amazing woman! Much of what she said was way over my head, but at the heart of her message was the fact that the church has spiritual resources that the world desperately needs right now and that we have a unique place to speak life into the hurts of the world. To speak resurrection, if you will, in the midst of death. She challenged in saying that our spirituality is how we live out the teachings of Jesus in this particular time. While Sister Joan is a Catholic and I am a protestant, she definitely speaks my language.

 

I believe that Jesus’ flock is made up of all those who love in action and in truth, whether they call themselves, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist, or if they’d rather avoid labels all together. And I think it is our role to reach out to people of goodwill, however they may situate themselves, to be healing presence, a tangible sign of the resurrection in a broken world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Sermon audio and text 4-8-12 "Same Old Story"

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Texts: John 20:1-18; I Cor. 15:1-11

 

Paul begins this section of his letter to the Corinthians with the words, “Now I would remind you”. In other words, you’ve heard this story before, but let me tell it again. It’s funny, as I interact with my preacher friends over social media how we all feel the pinch of telling this story, yet again. Here is this remarkable story, which should be able to stand on its own, and yet through repetition it has become a story that has become forgettable at best, laughable at worst. I wonder if some of us, yes even some of us preachers, have just heard this story so many times that it has become boring to us.

 

But maybe the problem isn’t the story per se. Maybe we’ve been telling it wrong. Maybe part of the problem is that we aren’t telling it like it is good news.

 

So hear, let me try to tell it again.

 

God loves us, but we sin, so God sent His son to die and then God raised his son back to life. If we believe all of that then we go to heaven.

 

That’s an okay story. Sometimes it’s told like this.

 

God loves us, but we sin, so God sent His son to die and then God raised his son from the dead and if we don’t believe that, we’re going to hell. You know... because God loves us.

 

I don’t particularly like that story. Maybe it’s like this:

 

God created the world. It was perfect. But we rebelled and ruined it. And God got mad at us. And the only way that God would stop being mad is if we slaughtered animals. At some point, there wasn’t an animal special enough to cover up all of our sins, so angry bloodthirsty God sent his son and demanded that he die. And then God raised him from the dead. And if we believe that, and don’t drink or smoke, or swear, or dance, and vote republican then we won’t go to hell.

 

 

Okay, I’m being silly here, but let’s face it, that’s not far off from how it’s usually presented. God is so angry with humanity, that the only thing that can stop that anger is blood. And then all that is necessary is for us to give some manner of intellectual assent to this story about God, and adjust our behavior a bit, mostly by avoiding things that are fun, and we’re good to go. I gotta be honest. That’s not very good news. Here’s why: in that version of the story, God’s still angry, the world isn’t set aright, and the whole system is based on fear, guilt, and punishment.

 

I want a better story. I want a story that sounds like good news, that feels like good news in my day-to-day life. I want a story that is good news for more than just me and people who think and look like me. So let’s tell a different story.

 

It still starts with God. This God is pure love, but love needs both subject and object. And this God lives in community, but even that community is not enough to be the object of pure love. So God creates in love. God creates a world teeming with every form of life, all of which God loves. But there’s something missing, all of what God made wasn’t able to interact with God as God desired. So God made humanity, both male and female in God’s image (because God’s image is both male and female)… but here’s the kicker, God made these humans free. This is risky, because it leaves God open to being rejected and being heartbroken, but love isn’t love if it’s coercive. So humans had to be free. And yes, there is sin, because in our freedom humans sometimes choose to put themselves above other humans and nature in really unhealthy ways. So, God enters the world, in various forms at various times, always trying to direct us back to a simple path: love of God through love of neighbor. God does this most clearly in Jesus. Here’s the problem, some people have become so comfortable in using their freedom to take freedom from others, that they will fight back against, forcibly if necessary, against anyone who tries to show them a different way. And that’s what happened to Jesus. Because he didn’t just affirm the humanity of the blind, the leper, the fishermen, the foreigner, women, and children, he also spoke out against systems that dehumanized others. So those who profited from those systems conspired together and had him killed…

 

…  and what shall we say about what happens next? Did the physical body of Jesus rise out of the tomb? Are we superstitious or naïve enough to believe such an absurd thing? Well, the first disciples did. Paul did. He goes as far as to say that those who saw the living Christ were among them. It mattered to Paul. It mattered to the early Christians. It mattered because they needed to believe that their way of life was not in vain. It mattered to them because the Gospel had changed everything about the way that they lived. It changed their sense of community. It changed their sense of purpose. It changed the ways they interacted with each other and with outsiders. It changed everything about the way that they were for the remainder of their lives.

 

It changed them because they began to imagine themselves in a different story. Instead of living in the story that told them that God was angry with them, they began to live into the story that God was for them. Instead of living in the story that said they were only worth what the empire said they were worth and they imagined a story in which their worth was that of those who bear the image of God. They began to imagine that God was so for them that God would go to great extents to show that they weren’t alone.

 

Faith begins when we are willing to imagine a new story. A bigger story. A better story. Faith requires that I imagine a world that is not the world I see everyday. Faith requires that we imagine a world where the blind, see, the lame walk, and the dead cannot be confined to tombs. And if we can do that, it will force us to imagine a world where the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, where weapons of war are used as tools for growth, where predators no longer prey on victims.

 

Growing up as I did, I always assumed that one must believe the fact of the resurrection to live into the truth of it. What I have come to understand is that there are many who have historically denied the facts of the resurrection while living into it’s truths. A great example of this is a man named Albert Schwietzer, the man famous for bringing the quest for the historical Jesus to the English speaking world. While Schweitzer denied the existence of any real person who was named Jesus who did the things depicted in the scripture, he took the example of Jesus so seriously that in 1905 at age 30, he went to Africa and began an medical mission that served thousands of people while also being an outspoken critic of the colonialism that had separated people into class by race. He actively opposed the development of nuclear weapons along with Albert Einstein. He did all of this because of the gospel that he believed to be true, if not fact.

 

As I have gotten older, and my I wrestle with what my faith means in the face of science, in the face of all of the world’s ills, in the face increasing religious fundamentalism of all stripes, I have become far more interested in the truth of Easter than the fact of Easter. Jesus rose from the dead? So what? What does that do about hunger? What does that do about war? What does that do about discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, or race?

 

The truth of Easter is that a new world is possible. A world where the needs of the hurting are cared for. A world where the dividing lines between people are broken down, a world where violence and domination are exchanged for justice and compassion.

 

Paul tells the Corinthians that through this truth they are being saved. Not that they are saved. It is a process. You grow into a new reality. You are shaped and molded. The walk of faith is an ongoing journey, not a moment, but a continually revelation of the expansiveness of the grace of God.

 

As Mary came to the tomb she came expecting to find a dead man, she left with heart full of possibilities… for if the one who she saw crucified was alive, what else might be possible. She becomes the first evangelist because she was the first to encounter the reality that death does not have to win out over life.

 

Easter makes more sense to me after going to Haiti. I’ve probably mentioned that the 2010 earthquake that killed thousands happened on my 30th birthday. And you may call this crazy, but from the day it happened I felt God calling me to go there. So I went last summer. If you want to understand what Easter means, go to Haiti. Go to a place where death is evident, but the imagination tells them that things can be different, that a new world is possible. Go to a place where being resurrection people is a little more than a clever metaphor. Go to a place where people hope when hope is the most foolish thing they could do.

 

The thing that is being saved within us is our imaginations. Kids can imagine a world without fear. They can imagine a world without pain. They can imagine a world where resources are shared because that’s the world they live in. They can imagine a world where people play together, because that’s the world they live in. The resurrection first and foremost saves our imaginations. It gives us the grace and freedom to imagine a better story. The story of God, the dream of God, the kingdom of God.

 

So yes, I believe in the truth of the Gospel. I wrestle with the facts, but much less than I used to. The truth of the Gospel is that a better world is necessary and through the example of Christ a better world is possible. And for me, there was no better disciple than Mary Magdalene. She sees and experiences the Risen Christ and she immediately begins to give witness to the new reality. This is what we are called to do. Through our love, through our service, at times through our words, but definitely through our generosity and compassion, we give witness to the truth that the systems of death are not the only way to exist in this world. This is what we are called to do. We are not called to be people that argue the facts of the resurrection, we are called to be people who live the truth of the resurrection.

 

Friends, this morning we are invited to find our role in a new story. A story in which the hungry are fed, the prisoners are set free. A story in which wars shall cease and injustices made right. A story in which those who have been victimized, abused, oppressed, and beaten down can lift their heads and know their worth. Nothing worthwhile in this world has been accomplished without a good dose of Holy imagination.

 

Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Imagine. What else might be possible? 

 


Sermon audio and text 4-1-12 "Join the Parade"

Texts: Ps. 118: 1-2, 19-29; Mark 11: 1-11

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Psalm 118

1O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!

2Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.

20This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.

21I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.

22The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

23This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

24This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

26Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord.

27The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.

28You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you.

29O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Mark 11:1-11

11When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few years back, President Obama came to Pittsburgh. Of course there is always a certain buzz when the president comes to town, but there is also a feeling of annoyance. Usually the announcement is followed with something like, “crap, which roads are going to be closed?” It’s an auspicious event when an official of that caliber comes to a city the size of Pittsburgh. It’s not quite like New York, D.C., or LA that is used to the massive disruptions. Life has to be altered. People take notice. Traffic is rerouted. Businesses have to close or alter their business hours. People inevitably gather on the side of the streets to watch the secret service cars go along their route.

 

This is NOT what Jesus was doing. This is not the ancient equivalent of a motorcade. In fact, there is every reason to believe that Jesus had no interest in people other than the disciples knowing that he was going up to Jerusalem. This was an attempt to get a surefooted animal that would be able to navigate the back roads into the city.

 

The colt of a donkey isn’t all that impressive. We live near a farm that has donkeys on it. Every time we drive by it, I look at the small colts and think to myself “I would look ridiculous riding on that thing”. Rest assured, this was not an attention grab on Jesus’ part. There is nothing regal or majestic about a donkey.

 

So how did this thing turn into an event so important that all four gospel writers decided to make reference to it? John Dominic Crossan, the prolific and controversial theologian and author offers an explanation for what is happening. Crossan explains that while Jesus is entering Jerusalem from one direction, that there is another much more impressive entrance being made, most likely by Pilate. Now Pilate would have had the ancient equivalent of a motorcade. He would have had warhorses, soldiers, the banners of Rome waving, swords, shields, spears, all the works. And of course people would have lined up for miles to see the spectacle of Roman power entering the gates of Jerusalem.

 

Okay, so that still doesn’t explain what’s happening on the other side of town. Well, I think a couple of things are happening here. And that brings me to what I want to focus on this Holy Week and Easter. You see this time of year, we tend to focus on who Jesus is. Makes sense, to a degree. But I want us to focus on our response to who Jesus is, what does it mean to be disciples in response to what we say is true about Jesus. That’s what we’re talking about this morning. That’s what we’ll reflect on Thursday evening and that’s what we’ll be talking about Easter morning.

 

So we have to ask ourselves what the disciples were doing here in this place. First option, this is a genuine outpouring of praise to God. They are shouting Hosanna, save us. They see Jesus’ arrival as the beginning of the salvation that they seek. They see him as a manifestation of God finally bringing freedom and liberation into their lives. And for that they were thankful.

Gratitude has to be a part of our lives of discipleship. It is difficult to be thankful at times when we we’re in the darkest points of our lives. But that’s not the issue that most of us face in our day-to-day lives. Our problem is that we have become so pessimistic and cynical that all we can see is the negative that surrounds us. The words of Psalm 118 draw us to lives grounded in gratitude, recognizing that each new day is a gift and that God is in the business of saving those who hurt and elevating those who have been brought low.

 

It never fails to amaze me that the folks I have met in life who are the most grateful are the ones that we would judge to have the least. It is the ones whose lives are reoriented to a different set of values. The ones who can find pleasure in the simplest of things. This group of people who gathered along the road to Jerusalem would have ranged from those who were hard working to laborers who lived hand to mouth each day, to the very poor who were barely living. In Jesus they see a hope for something changing. It makes me wonder if our stuff can actually get in the way of our gratitude. Gratitude asserts that there is enough for all in a world that is constantly telling us to be afraid of scarcity. In that way, gratitude is a revolutionary act.

 

But if Crossan is right about Pilate entering the city at virtually the same time as Jesus, then we have to assume the disciples are up to something else. Something far more dangerous. In the face of the overwhelming narrative that Caesar is king and that Rome is the ultimate kingdom, Jesus’ followers are holding a demonstration that makes a mockery of Rome and claims that there is a superior kingdom at work. This is insurrection and protest at it’s finest.

I hate to be a broken record, but we have lost sight of the radical nature of what Jesus was up to. In an empire like Rome’s, for someone to proclaim a new kingdom, a new set of values with a new figurehead was incredibly dangerous. The disciples were making a political statement, whether they meant to or not. They were declaring Jesus was king in the face of Caesar. Some scholars argue that the disciples believed they were amassing an army. Certainly some understood what Jesus had been telling them all this time, but they certainly thought their march would be the beginning of the end of Rome being in their land.

 

Our discipleship is meant to be a pledge of allegiance to a heavenly kingdom. It’s meant to be a statement that we are ruled by a wholly different constitution. It is difficult in our country where Christianity has become more or less a civil religion to disentangle the values of our country from the values of our faith. And it becomes tricky when we recognize that the values of our own nation have very much become the values of Rome.

 

Given all of these factors, it’s certainly not surprising to see how the resolve of this crowd would fade away. It shouldn’t come as a shock to shouts of Hosanna change to shouts of “crucify him”. It shouldn’t surprise us because we can see the ways that our own dedication can lag and waver. We see how difficult it is for us, with far less at stake, to stay committed to the ideals of our faith.

 

This year I have given up meat for Lent. To this point, I have kept at it, but I can’t help by being struck by the fact that for about 40 days I have done something that billions do by necessity and that millions additionally do voluntarily as a lifestyle including many here. AND, I’ve complained about it just about everyday. Is that what it means to be a disciple of Jesus? That’s not what it meant for the early disciples….

 

For them it meant running away when things got rough. It meant denying that they knew Jesus when they got questioned. It meant betraying Jesus to authorities. In other words, they were terrible at it too.

 

Throughout history, people have had many ideas of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Some it has meant taking on vows of poverty, for some it has meant a monastic identity separated from the rest of the world, some have seen following Jesus as a heroic crusade to vanquish other faiths, some have seen it as a call to gain as much political influence as possible, some see it as a mere punching of the clock for an hour on Sundays, others have seen it as a life of lived in foreign nations bringing the Gospel to those unreached by the words of the gospel. At it’s best it can be a genuine outpouring of love and adoration and at it’s worse it can be

 

Jesus had his own ideas of what it meant to be his disciple. Surprisingly his ideas were much different than ours. We’ll talk about exactly what Jesus definition of discipleship looks like on Thursday, but suffice it to say for now, that it means being a part of a very different parade. Not one built on pomp and power, but a parade of fools, worshipping a man on the colt of a lowly donkey, believing that he can save them from those who enter the city ready to wage war.

 

His first words to them all those months and years ago were “follow me”. Do we dare follow him now, knowing where this parade route leads?