Summary: We should not be amazed at the Amish response of forgivness. To know the power of Christ’s death and reusrrection calls us to live our lives in forgiveness.
20th Sunday after Pentecost (Pr. 24) October 22,
2006 “Series B”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for the gift of your Son, who came among us to reveal your Word for our lives, and to redeem us from sin and death. Although he was your Son, he humbled himself in obedience and service to fulfill your will, that we might know your redeeming grace. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, cleanse our hearts and minds of selfish pride and foolish ambitions, that we might serve our crucified and risen Lord, in true discipleship. This we ask, in his holy name. Amen.
Last Sunday, as I was greeting our members following worship, I noticed Pastor Blair was allowing everyone to proceed ahead of him, which told me that he had some comments to make to me, and he didn’t want to hold up the line. As I’ve mentioned before, I have come to appreciate his thoughts and comments. In fact, I would encourage every one of you to share with me how this time of worship has impacted your thoughts. It is a way to help me grow as your pastor.
And sure enough, as I greeted the last person before Ralph, I saw him take out his bulletin, on which were written several notes. It was a good conversation, in which onr of his comments really struck a cord with me.
It was one that I could not get out of my mind all week. It was in regard to the story that I shared with you about the pastor who visited the Amish community right after those young girls were killed, and in particular, how that pastor was moved, as was I, by his experience.
As you may recall, this pastor reported about the tenderness of one of the dead girl’s mother preparing her daughter for burial, while her grandfather explained to the dead girl’s siblings the importance to forgive the person who took their sister from them. Now I don’t want to dwell on this subject, but clearly, that Amish community witnessed to the world about what it means to live our lives as disciples of Christ.
However, the comment that Pastor Blair made to me last Sunday, in regard to that story, brings today’s Gospel lesson into focus. Ralph said, “Ron, isn’t it amazing, that when people actually practice forgiveness, we are so moved by their actions. Is that not one of the tenets of our own faith? Why are we so amazed?
This can be a hard lesson for all of us, who have been baptized and united to our Lord’s death and resurrection as his disciples, to actually take to heart. Why does the actions of the Amish community in response to the shooting of their young children surprise us? Could it be that we sit here in this nave every Sunday morning, and worship our Lord for the hope of new life in God’s kingdom, which we receive through our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, and fail to truly understand what it means to live as one of his disciples?
Perhaps we are a lot like our Lord’s first disciples. Throughout Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ own, handpicked disciples never seem to get the point of what he tries to convey to them. They are always on some other plane of thought, misinterpreting his teachings about what it means to live in humility, as a servant of God. All the way until the end of Mark’s Gospel, these chosen first disciples seem oblivious to our Lord’s teachings and ministry of reconciliation.
Now, in order to fully understand our lesson for this morning, I think we need to include the two verses that immediately precede our text. Here, Jesus, for the third time, takes his disciples apart from the crowds, and says to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”
And how do the disciples react to what Jesus has just said to them? Right after hearing these words of Jesus, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And what do they ask Jesus? Only that they be granted positions of power and prestige – to be seated at the right and
left of Jesus when he comes into his glory.