• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Lent 2B February 25, 2018

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:22-30
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

In our first reading today, we meet Abram. God has called Abram to leave his comfortable home, pack up all his belongings, and travel with all his livestock to a land Abram has never seen. At this point, Abram has traveled hundreds of miles. This is all happening around 2,000 years ago, and all this traveling has been done on foot. When this journey began, God promised that God would make Abram the father of a great nation.

As the scene opens, Abram is 99 years old. His wife, Sarai, is also far beyond the age when folks normally start a family. Many things have happened since they left their comfortable home years and miles ago. Some of those things have been very difficult. And they still have no child.

God comes to Abram, and Abram falls on his face and worships the Lord in an attitude of complete trust. After all these years and all these challenges, Abram is still faithful. And God tells Abram that he and Sarai are going to have a son.

Sarah is listening in on God’s conversation with Abraham, and after God leaves, she bursts out laughing. She rolls on the floor laughing. So does Abraham. Just when we think all hope is gone, and we’re 99 years old, God tells us we have a future . There is hope after all. Abraham and Sarah were faithful to God. And God made a covenant with them that they would have descendants as numerous as the stars or as the grains of sand on a beach.

In our reading from the Book of Romans, Paul writes about Abraham and the strength of Abraham’s faith. He was 99 years old and he still did not lose faith. This is a powerful example for us. The journey may be difficult, things may look dismal, but God is always there, and hope is always there.

In our gospel, Jesus is telling the disciples that the religious authorities are going to have him killed, and he is going to rise from death. Peter can’t accept this. He tells Jesus to stop saying these terrible things. And Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”

What is going on here? Why would Jesus say such a thing? Peter loves Jesus. He does not want anything bad to happen to him. He does not want to lose this friend and teacher who has become like his brother.

Jesus can see the handwriting on the wall. The authorities are watching him. They will go to any lengths to preserve their power. Jesus is fully human as well as fully divine. He does not want to suffer and die.  When Peter tells him that this horror can’t happen, it makes Jesus wish that it would not happen, but it is going to. If he is true to the ministry to which he is called, the authorities are going to try to destroy him. So, even though Peter loves Jesus and means well, he is actually tempting Jesus to abandon his ministry and run away to safety. That is why he calls Peter by the name of the tempter.

There were two schools of thought running through the Scriptures about the Messiah. One was that he would be a conquering hero who would overthrow the Romans, and the other was that he would be the suffering servant described by Isaiah. Some of Jesus’ disciples saw him as the conquering hero. James and John wanted to sit beside him in his kingdom. But that was not to be. His is not a  kingdom of earthly power. At this point, perhaps Peter did not understand that. Later he did. So did James and John. We are all growing in our understanding of who Jesus is and what he us calling us to do.

Then Jesus calls us to take up our cross. He calls us to stop trying to save our lives and to lose our lives for his sake. This does not mean that he is calling us to do self-destructive things. He wants us to accept his love for us and to take care of ourselves. He is actually calling us to stop doing anything that is self-destructive.

But he is also calling us to readjust our vision. His is not an earthly  kingdom. His kingdom, his shalom, is a world of peace, harmony, and wholeness. There may be some things that have seemed really important to us in the past, but in the light of his call, our perspective changes. As we listen to his call to us, as Abraham listened to God’s call thousands of years ago, our values shift. Things that were once important to us become less important in the light of his call to take up our cross.

Jesus says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Part of this process is to deny our selves, to redirect our egos into following him. Our self becomes a part of his loving and caring and healing self. We experience newness of life here and now as we follow him and help him bring in his kingdom.

Taking up our cross and following Jesus may involve struggle, and sacrifice, but it will always lead to new life. It will always lead to wholeness and to being true to ourselves. It will help us to become the persons he calls us to be.

It is a journey, like the journey of Abraham and Sarah. It is a journey with our Lord, a journey of transformation, a journey of love, hope, and joy.  Amen.

%d bloggers like this: