6th Sunday after Pentecost
June 26, 2016
“The Big Adventure”
Grace to you and peace in the name of God our Father and our living Savior Jesus. Today I would like to base the sermon on the Gospel lesson read earlier from Luke 9.
My dear friends in the faith,
I haven’t been around much lately. Maybe you’ve noticed…maybe you haven’t. My adventure began way back on Friday, June 3rd. On that day Joanne and I drove to Okeechobee. From Okeechobee we drove to Memphis, TN. Then it was off to Lincoln, NE followed by a drive to Braham, MN. Then all the way to Warroad, MN on the MN/Canadian border. That is where Joanne and the car still are. I flew back to Florida…but not for long.
1 day after returning home I found out my brother Mike – whose health is a struggle in the first place – was having serious…SERIOUS…problems in the hospital. It was a non-decision. I got back on a plane just 2 days later. I traveled from Tampa to Charlotte to Chicago to Charlotte (yes again…don’t ask) and then finally to Omaha. On my return flight I went from Grand Island, NE to Dallas, TX and finally back to Tampa. Am I road weary? Yes. Is my brother better? Yes…thanks be to God.
I cannot even begin to list all the people I am ever so grateful to for ALL the help to make my travels possible. People who stepped up in my absence, who took care of things while I was away, all the financial gifts to help us with our expenses, not to mention all the prayers and best wishes. And over the last 20 + days I have had lots of time to think…and that introspection is the culmination of what drives the sermon today.
Yes…I had quite the little adventure. In today’s Gospel lesson we hear about some of what happens during Jesus’ adventure. Jesus is heading towards Jerusalem where, as you know, He is going to suffer and die. As they are traveling south from Nazareth, they have to pass through the region of Samaria in order to get to Judea where Jerusalem is. No planes, trains, and automobiles involved here; no terminals, gates, connecting flights, or MPG to consider. Jesus and the Disciples have to walk. And, as they walk, they enter Samaria but we are told in verse 53 that the Samaritans “did not receive Him.” Why not? Well, remember the differences. Jesus is a Jew and Jews and Samaritans didn’t get along…hated each other is more like it. Additionally, there was a lack of reception because the local Samaritans found out that Jesus was specifically going to Jerusalem. One of the subjects of dispute between the Jews and Samaritans pertained to the proper situation of the temple. The Jews contended that it should be at Jerusalem; the Samaritans, on Mount Gerizim, and accordingly they had built a temple there. The Samaritans had probably heard of the miracles of Jesus, and that he claimed to be the Messiah but since He was headed to Jerusalem and not Gerizim, this conflicted with their beliefs about the Messiah so they had no time for Jesus or His people. James and John wanted those ungrateful so-and-sos to suffer for their inhospitality – for fire from Heaven to rain down on them no less! – but Jesus had no interest in such punishment (v. 54-55). And so the big adventure continued.
Next, they meet an unnamed person on the road who really, really wants to follow Jesus; “I will follow you wherever you go.” Did he? It’s doubtful because there is no other mention of this person as a new disciple. Along the way, Jesus also called two additional men to follow, but they had more pressing business: one had a funeral and another wanted to stop by the house and say “goodbye” first. But when Jesus answered them, apparently they too weren’t interested: “Jesus said…No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62, ESV), which by the way, has been an important verse for me and my life. And so the big adventure continued…all the way to Jerusalem where Jesus would be betrayed, arrested, brutalized, flogged, crucified, dead and buried. Now THAT’s a tough journey! Which brings me to what I’ve learned on the road for most of the month of June.
What we learn from the Gospel and Jesus’ responses, and what I have realized over the last 23 days, is that faith and family are THE most important things in life and there is no close 3rd thing. Is faith important to God? Duh! Faith is what carries you through the ups and downs, the joys and heartaches, and the good and bad of life. You will experience hard times, bad times, and tough times and through it all we persevere through our faith in God. Faith is having the ability – the courage – to understand that even though you don’t understand the timing and direction of God’s plan, it is still GOD’S plan. Faith is understanding that sometimes the things presented to us in life as choices are not really choices at all, but we go and we do and we put on our big boy and girl pants knowing that we WILL BE ALL RIGHT in and through faith.
Family is just as important. How important is family to Jesus? He DIED and then rose again from the dead for His family, for us, for you. Do families still wrong each other or are they perfect? Of course not, but as family we love and forgive each other just as God in Christ loves and forgives us because of Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary. Your “family” isn’t just the people that you share DNA with. Your family are the people who want you in their lives; they are the ones who accept you for who you are and love and serve you with Jesus as the example. Family are the ones that do anything to help you smile and you’re happy to return that effort. Your family is a circle of strength founded on faith, joined by love, and kept together by God: a truly loving family will, at the end of the day, find everything forgivable just as God forgives each and every one of us. Faith and family…in the end during our life’s big adventure, those are what REALLY matter.
After Mike’s surgery, they gave him an antibiotic – Ampicillin – that he reacted violently to. The reaction was so severe that at one point his life was in jeopardy. During one of the really bad days my mom was driving back to the hospital and she saw a semi-truck on Highway 2. There was nothing specific about it other than the dazzlingly white color of the cab. What else caught her attention? There was a Bible reference painted on the cab that she later asked me about. What bible verse was referenced and she “just happened” to see on that awful day? John 3:16: “For God so loved the world (family), that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him (fdaith) should not perish but have eternal life.” Coincidence that it just showed up at that crucial time? I don’t think so. Friends, as you go through the big adventure of your life, please remember that faith and family are THE most important things in life and there is no close 3rd thing.
May your angels fly with you wherever you may roam and always guide you safely back to family and home. Home. It’s like the lady once said, “there’s no place like home,” and that’s true. It’s good to be home with my family here at GSLCS.