|Pentecost, Year C||June 9, 2019||The Day of Pentecost, Year C||Acts 2:1-21, John 14:8-17, 25-27|
|Easter 7, Year C||June 2, 2019||The Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 97, Acts 16:16-34, John 17:20-26|
|Easter 6, Year C||May 26, 2019||Easter 6, Year C||John 14:23-29|
|Easter 5, Year C||May 19, 2019||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 13:31-35|
|Easter 4, Year C||May 12, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 23; John 10:22-30|
|Easter 3, Year C||May 5, 2019||Third Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 21:1-19|
|Easter 2, Year C||April 28, 2019||Easter 2, Year 2||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, 2019||April 21, 2019||Easter Sunday||John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday, 2019||April 19, 2019||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019||April 18, 2019||Maundy Thursday||John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year C||April 14, 2019||Palm Sunday, Year C||Luke 23:26|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||April 7, 2019||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||John 12:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 31, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019||Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 24, 2019||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:1-9|
|➤Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2019||Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1|
Second Sunday in Lent, Year C
Sermon Date:March 17, 2019
Scripture: Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday in Lent, Year C
Cleo Coleman as Harriet Tubman, the real Harriet Tubman
The season of Lent challenges us to go beyond our spiritual comfort zones, and to press on wherever God leads us.
When Paul said to the Philippians, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved,” Paul was not talking about sitting around in a spiritual haze of contentment.
Paul is encouraging us to press on, because Christ Jesus has made us his own.
God is counting on us, the disciples, to press on with courage and without fear, because we know that God is leading us and going alongside us.
In today’s gospel, Jesus is standing firm in the Lord as he heads toward Jerusalem.
The Pharisees say to Jesus, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”
Not bad advice—Jesus has been healing and teaching on his way to Jerusalem. So many people have benefited from his presence and his ministry with them. Certainly, a spiritual comfort zone for Jesus, and his disciples, would be to continue his work not so close to Herod’s interference. He could go back to Galilee and do his thing, and probably worry less about being killed.
But Jesus knows that God wants him to press on, to Jerusalem, and Jesus knows that Jerusalem will be full of danger for him, because after all, Jerusalem is the city that kills the prophets and kills those who are sent to it!
I love Jesus—because not only does he plan to press on, but he plans to press on out of love—not only out of his love for God, but also out of his love for Jerusalem. “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,” Jesus says of Jerusalem.
So Jesus pressed on, to Jerusalem, with love, and without fear.
And through the centuries, the saints have pressed on, carrying the kingdom far and wide.
In the fourth century, when Christianity was still mostly unknown in Ireland, Irish pirates would sail over to Britain and raid coastal areas for slaves to take back to Ireland. I didn’t know that there was quite a slave trade going on between Britain and Ireland during the time of the Roman Empire.
In one such raid, the Irish slave traders took a young Christian boy prisoner and he was sold into slavery, joining one quarter of the world’s population in slavery. As a slave, he worked on a farm, caring for the sheep, leading them out to pasture in the day, and then back to their enclosure at night. For six years, this boy served as a slave.
During this time, Patrick, for that was his name, came to know God through prayer. He says of himself that he did not really know God before his time of slavery, but during his enslavement, he learned to trust and to depend on God. He was learning to stand firm in the Lord.
After six years, Patrick felt God calling him to escape, which he did, against all odds, and he got back to his family in Britain. They were overjoyed to have their son back—an unexpected happy ending.
But God called Patrick out of his comfort zone of home, and safety and freedom. Patrick had visions in which he heard “an enormous chorus of voices singing to him, the voices of the Irish, and they were singing, “Holy boy, come here and walk among us.”
Patrick’s reaction to this call was one of deep sorrow, not for himself, but for the very people who had enslaved him. In his time in Ireland, he had developed a deep love for the Irish.
Patrick felt that he was being called out of his newly found comfort zone to press on, to go back to Ireland, and to take Christianity to the very people who had enslaved him, because he loved them.
Patrick went back to Ireland, ministering in particular to the slaves there, loving those people, standing firm in the Lord in spite of the many dangerous challenges he faced, and he grew Christianity in Ireland so powerfully that we celebrate his ministry each year on March 17th, which happens to be today.
Another saint familiar to our church and much closer to us in time is Harriet Tubman—the information I’m sharing is from one of our many books about saints of the church, this one called Great Cloud of Witnesses.
Harriet Tubman was born in Maryland in 1820 into slavery. As she grew up and suffered beatings and a severe head injury, Harriet took strength from stories in the Bible as she did the hard work of a slave and endured an awful head injury, and the story of Moses leading God’s people out of slavery was one of her favorites. Like Patrick, she was learning, in her adversities, to stand firm in the Lord.
When she was about 24, Harriet managed to make it to Canada and escaped slavery. Finally, she was free!
But like Patrick, Harriet could not rest in this spiritual comfort zone. She could not forget her parents and others who were still enslaved. She had a deep love for her people, so deep that she could not rest in her own freedom and forget them.
So with the help of the Quakers, she made at least 19 trips back to Maryland, at the risk of her own life, to lead others to freedom.
Harriet Tubman, saint, stood firm in the Lord, and pressed on, throughout her life, in pursuit of freedom not just for herself, but for her people.
In our midst today is Cleo Coleman, who is well-known in these parts for her amazing portrayal of Harriet Tubman, lest we forget Tubman and her witness to the importance of standing firm and pressing on where God is calling us to go.
Cleo has remembered, and she helps us to remember, the saints who have gone before us. By her presence among us, Cleo helps us on a regular basis to restore our sometimes faltering belief in the fact that we are all saints, called to stand firm in the Lord and to press on and make God’s reign visible on this earth, both as individuals and as the Church.
So Cleo, during the announcements, we have a gift for you.
Now–saints of God, all of us here today, from youngest to oldest—
How is God calling your out of your spiritual comfort zone?
How is God calling us, the people of God, St Peter’s, out of our own spiritual comfort zone as this church?
Where does God want us to stand firm, with love,
and in that strength borne of love to press on?
Remember, our citizenship is in heaven, but our life here and now is on earth.
God is calling us, St Peter’s,
not to be comfortable,
but to be conformed to the body of the glory of Jesus himself,
who stood firm and pressed on to Jerusalem.
We too, as individuals, and as this church, can press on to all that God is calling us to do and to be, as people of love, for God is with us, leading us on.
May we have the courage to follow.
Resource: Freeman, Philip. St Patrick of Ireland: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, 2004.