Sermons

Summary: What if this text is about not being afraid; not being afraid of death. About not fearing the suffering places in our lives ... that can often feel so much like death. For the moment we start to fear death, it will not long before we start to fear life.

For those not familiar with an Anglican Service there are four Scripture readings before the Message. Today's readings are Exodus 3:1-15; Psalm 105; Romans 12:9-21 and Matthew 16:21-28

Hear God's word once again from the Gospel of Matthew:

BIBLE "....... Jesus told his disciples, 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves ......and take up their cross and follow me....... For those who want to save their life will lose it, ......and those who lose their life for my sake...... will find it.'" END

These verses .....can make your head spin.

Upon first glance,...... they do not seem ....too difficult to understand, ...... but the longer you hang around in them, ......the dizzier you get .......and the more ......they start to play tricks ....on you.

Deny yourselves. Take up your cross.

Those who want to save their life ....will lose it, .....and those who lose their life for my sake ....will find it.

So... If I am selfish with my life, .....I will lose my life.

But if I am generous..... and give up my life, ......I will gain it.

Therefore, .....I will be generous with my life, ....... ......Because I know .....that I want to gain it.

But...wait.

Then am I simply being generous ..... for my own gain?

Am I simply being generous ...... to save my own neck?

It can be indeed ..... a dizzying text. (Long Pause)

Sadly..... most people ..... interpret this text... in only one of two ways.

(1 Finger) Some hear it .....as a call to live a meager life, .....denying themselves of joy .... denying themselves .....of an abundant .... and full life.

It is an attempt to delay joy .... And to delay gratification .....until they reach .... heaven.

They are convinced ..... the more I deny myself life's comforts here and now, .....the greater my reward will be ..... in heaven.

In essence.....No pain,.... no gain.

(2 Fingers) Others hear this text .....as a justification .....or a reason...... for the suffering that has already burrowed ..... into their life.

They may say when faced with suffering....."This must be ..... my cross to bear,".

It paints a picture of a drill sergeant God .......who is in the business ....of giving you more and more obstacles ..... more and more struggles ....in your life .....to see ..... how long you can endure them.

I am afraid ....that because of this interpretation..... many have endured hardships..... for years ....that they should never..... have endured.

Terrified each day, ...they endure... they hang on.... believing it is a cross ..... that God has called them ..... to bear.

So they just grin and bear it,..... trying to trust in a god .....who can seem ....so cruel. (Long Pause)

If these were the only two ways to hear this text, ...... then I would want nothing .....to do with it.

Yet.... what if ....what if ...there is another way.... of hearing this text?

It seems to me .....that our Gospel reading .....is not about a call to a life of suffering.

It is not about denying one's self .....the pleasures in life...in order to receive ....a future joy in heaven.

It is not about ....a God who is simply playing a game .....with us.

I believe .....that this text .....is not about a reason ....for our suffering.

It is not about a God ......that deliberately hurts us ....by giving us ......different crosses to bear.

Asking us to carry them ..... in order to show our level of commitment .....and the endurance..... of our faith.

Beloved....., what if this text ..... (Slow) is about...... not being afraid.

Not being afraid of evil..... not being afraid of death.

About not fearing ....the suffering places in our lives ...... that can often feel ....so much ....like death.

For the moment we start to fear death...., it will not be long ......before we start ....to fear life.

And I believe .....this was the case ....for Peter.

Just before our Gospel reading in Matthew,..... Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?"

Peter is the one .....who steps forward and says, ...."You are the Messiah, ..... The Christ.... the son of the living God."

Jesus affirms Peter by saying, "Yes, .....blessed are you,.... Peter."

The problem is ...... Peter is expecting..... a different kind .....of Messiah.

In Peter's mind, and in the mind of many.....the Messiah ......is one who comes .....in strength and power.

One who will defeat .....the evil powers ..... of the world.

And as a follower of Jesus, .....Peter expects .....to be part..... of such A glorious battle.

So when Jesus begins to share with his disciples ......that he must go to Jerusalem.

That he must undergo great suffering and death,...... it is no wonder .....that Peter cries out,

"God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you."

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Talk about it...

Danny Brightwell

commented on Jan 12, 2015

Your message was very insightful and very well presented. Thank you for sharing it.

J Jeffrey Smead

commented on Jan 12, 2015

Thank-you for your kinds words. Blessings In Christ Jeff

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