Radical Discipleship – against the grain, Oct. 14, 2012

Title:Radical Discipleship – against the grain, Oct. 14, 2012

41 people attended Eucharist today. The day started out seasonably cool but the warm sun and gentle breeze made this a beautiful day at St. Peter’s. The leaves have not begun to turn on the trees  in the  Church lot.

The purple chrysanthemum’s were in bloom this Sunday on the church walk:

Purple Chrysanthemums

Strong sunlight made a clear image on the church wall through the stained glass:

Light on the walls

 

Altar

In the spirit of the season, Elizabeth presented a wonderful altar arrangment.  

Nancy on Samaritan's Purse

This Sunday was the kickoff for Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child. One again Nancy is leading this effort over the next four Sundays. Messages will be in the bulletin over the next few weeks culminating with a video on the last Sunday of the month. Collection is Nov 4 and 11. Gifts to be included in the shoeboxes can be small toys, school supplies, hygiene items and candy. 

We were pleased to see the Dobson’s new grandchild, Kayden with her mom Kelley.  

Kaydn

In fact we have a photography of the proud family:

Dobsons with new grandchild

 

The readings today focused on wealth and the use of it by those who follow God. The Old Testament reading in Amos time criticizes those "who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate."  In Mark it is the story of the rich man’s question- "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" We don’t hear of what he has done but only he has not done enough- to sell possessions so the wealth can be used in the service of others. The sermon cites New Testament scholar Joel Marcus who "makes the suggestion that Jesus is pointing out that landowners of his time were also exploiting the poor for their own gain. 

In any case, the rich man has not done what is takes to be a disciple though Jesus is around "to sympathesize with our weaknesses" as Hebrews says and to ultimately to bring us back into a right relationship.

The sermon spotlighted the weaknesses of Thomas Jefferson. He had a certain blindness of the effect of slavery in his life as the rich man had about wealth. The rich man had exploited others to become wealthy and for Jefferson slavery allowed him to carry on his lifestyle as demonstrated at Monticello. Although he criticized slavery earlier in his life he became entrenched within the system. 

This reading should be seen in the larger context of readings over the last few weeks.

We have been reading in Mark over the past weeks about discipleship that runs from 8:27-10:45 interspersed Jesus’ three-fold prediction of his suffering, death and resurrection (8:31; 9:31; 10:32-34). After each prediction, the disciples expose their misunderstanding of Jesus’ mission and their participation in it, and Jesus teaches what it means to follow him (8:32-37; 9:32-37; 10:35-45).

What does it mean to be a disciple considering all of these readings ?

1. 8:32-37 To follow Jesus means to deny oneself and take up one’s cross, in imitation of Jesus’ own self-sacrificial service

2. To lose one’s "soul" or life in order to save it (8:34, 35).

3. To become Servant of all (9:32-37, 10:35-45)

4. To realize it is “impossible” for humans to enter the Kingdom through their own efforts, even when blessed with God-given possessions. Only God can save us. (10:27)

5. To use what resources you have wisely and productively in a life of service. The scripture stresses giving money to the poor (10:35-45) but not giving up all.   You must change your relationship to the poor —to help them, to identify with them.   Just because you have wealth does not make you blessed by God – you must bear fruit and do something with it.  

Wealth can get in the way of discipleship.  The eye of the needle metaphor is apropos –  just as large animals simply do not fit through tiny openings, so the wealthy do not fit in the kingdom of God.

6.  To love their neighbors with the same self-sacrificial service to others that Jesus does, which demands personal engagement and self-denial. All of this is against the grain of our culture.

7. To welcome those who are oppressed or ignored – Women with no or limited rights in divorce proceeding and children (10:17-31) and also (9:30-37)

8. To understand that in the process we may suffer great loss with the idea that God has the last word.  Yes, it is hard. The young man  resists surrendering not only wealth, but also status and power. He resists participating in economic justice and handing power over to his poor beneficiaries. The financial, social, and political costs are too great for him. 

However, those who follow Jesus are vindicated with abundance beyond imagination .

 

 

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