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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion December 11, 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:…
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Pentecost 17 Proper 19 B RCL September 16, 2018

Proverbs 1:20-33
Psalm 19
James 3:1-12
Mark 8:27-38

In our first reading today, Wisdom calls the people to return to God, to respond to God’s call. Wisdom is always a female figure. Wisdom is considered to be a part of God, an aspect of God, who was present at the creation. Jesus is often thought of as being one with Wisdom. Herbert O’ Driscoll says, “ Wisdom expresses the mind of God.” (The Word Among Us, Year B, Vol 3, p. 102.) Wisdom practice is designed to help us attune our minds to the mind of God and to follow the will of God.

Our passage from the Letter of James is also considered to be wisdom literature. It gives guidance on how to live our lives in harmony with God’s will.  Much of today’s reading focuses on that very small but very powerful part of our body, the tongue. James tells us that it is easier to control the rudder of a ship that it is to control our tongues.

Biblical scholar Beverly Gaventa quotes that old adage that we all recited when we were children: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Gaventa writes, “The lines carry within themselves their own contradiction, for if words did not in fact have the power to do harm, the lines would not be necessary.”  (Gaventa, Texts for Preaching Year B, p. 509.)

With social media, we can send messages to hundreds and thousands of people. We are not saying something to just one or two people. The misuse of social media to send negative messages is particularly harmful to our children and youth. We have all read or heard accounts of young people actually committing suicide because of bullying that has occurred over social media. James points out that with our tongues we can either bless or curse, and we pray that, in everything we say, we will be extending blessings.

In our gospel, Jesus has been doing healings and touching many lives. He has realized that his ministry is to all people. He has also endured verbal attacks by the religious authorities who scold him for putting the needs of people before the traditions.

In today’s reading, Jesus asks his followers who he is. They report on the opinions others have been offering. Jesus asks them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter says, “You are the Messiah.” Then Jesus tells them what is going to happen. He is going to suffer, he is going to be rejected by the authorities, he is going to be killed, and then he is going to rise again.

Peter cannot bear this, He takes Jesus aside and begins to scold him, “Lord, this simply cannot happen.” In one way or another, all of our readings today are about how we respond to God’s call. Jesus knows what he is called to do. His revolution of the spirit is so frightening to the authorities that they are going to kill him. He is going to suffer.

I think Peter is responding to this on at least two levels. First, he loves Jesus. He has left everything and followed this man, and now Jesus has become like a big brother to him. He cannot bear the idea of Jesus suffering and dying.

Secondly, there are two strains of thought regarding the messiah. One is that the messiah will come as a conquering hero, defeat the oppressor—in this case, the Roman Empire—and establish a new kingdom, the reign of God. It’s one thing to be following a military hero who achieves a military victory. It is another thing to be following a leader who suffers and dies. Prophets such as Isaiah clearly present the concept of the suffering servant, and Peter knows this, but it is still very difficult to hear.

But let us consider how Jesus is feeling. He knows what he is called to do. But now his dear friend Peter, the one who will lead the apostles, is saying that this simply cannot happen. He loves Peter. He knows Peter is emotional and impulsive at times, but Peter is the one who has recognized Jesus as the Savior. When Peter tells Jesus that our Lord’s description of his death and resurrection can’t be true, it tempts Jesus to waver in his resolve. And that is why our Lord says, “Get behind me, Satan.” Peter is tempting Jesus to veer from the path he is called to walk. Peter is setting his mind on earthly things instead of heavenly things.

And then Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him. He calls us to lose our lives for his sake. That does not necessarily mean dying for his sake, but it does mean putting heavenly things above earthly things.

If we go back to the theme of Wisdom as expressing the mind of God, or the mind of Christ, following Jesus means that we are called to make our minds and hearts one with his mind and heart. This means that we are called to be people of love and compassion, to care about others as our Lord did.

As we pray our collect for today, we are asking that we nay follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all things. That is what it means to take up our cross and follow Jesus— to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all things. When we do that, we are following our Good Shepherd, who is leading us into new life,  Amen.