St. Mark's Episcopal Church

124 North Sylvia Street - Montesano, WA, 98563

Pentecost 12 Sermon 2010

Throughout the sermon, reflections from the congregation are encouraged.

Road rage, domestic rage, racial rage, rage in the workplace—and in this week’s news, there is even airline attendant rage.  Now in this morning’s Gospel do we hear Jesus rage??

Listen to the scripture from Luke once more, then we’ll share our reflections.  I’ll read the first five verses, from The Message:

Luke 12:49-53: "I've come to start a fire on this earth—how I wish it were blazing right now! I've come to change everything, turn everything right side up—how I long for it to be finished! Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I've come to disrupt and confront! From now on, when you find five in a house, it will be— 

   Three against two, 
      and two against three; 
   Father against son, 
      and son against father; 
   Mother against daughter, 
      and daughter against mother; 
   Mother-in-law against bride, 
      and bride against mother-in-law." 

What’s this fire Jesus speaks of?  Do you hear the urgency in his message?  He seems to be saying—pay attention, look around, be aware.

His concern is for his disciples as he attempts to prepare them for the days ahead.  Remember, Jesus has set his face for Jerusalem.

Jesus so often speaks of peace.  “Peace be with you, do not be afraid,” we often hear in the scriptures.  Now he says, “I’ve come to disrupt and confront. There will be divisions within families.”  How do you react to these words?

Where is our passion of fire directed?  As a Christian what is required of us?  We are called to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. 

Where do you think the passion of St. Mark’s ought to be?  There are outreach funds in the budget that have not yet been allocated.  This week’s Bishop Committee meeting we plan to decide where to send some of these funds.  In your opinion, where are the greatest needs in Montesano?  Montesano Food Bank, Coastal Harvest, Union Gospel Mission?  Other places?  People?

Have we always been united, have we known divisions here because of particular decisions made?

Now I’ll read the last three verses of the Gospel, again from The Message: 

Luke 12:54-56: Then he turned to the crowd: "When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, 'Storm's coming'—and you're right. And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, 'This'll be a hot one'—and you're right. Frauds! You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don't tell me you can't tell a change in the season, the God-season we're in right now.”

Jesus confronts his audience with this question.  If you can interpret the weather can’t you interpret what’s going on in the world around you?

Many times Jesus had pointed out the hurtful social injustices of his time.  He despairs at the great gap between rich and poor. 

Has much changed?

The Collect for the day says, “Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life.”

Perhaps the frustration in Jesus’ words comes from his knowing that time is short.  The future of his mission would very soon rest with those who heard his preaching and teaching.  He yearned for them to open their hearts to the poor and needy, to wholeheartedly love God, neighbor and self, and it didn’t seem to be happening.  So he cried out in anger.

If Jesus stood among us, would he be just as impatient with us as he was with those he spoke to long ago?

In the second reading from Hebrews we are reminded of the great heroes of our faith.  They got the message and acted on it.  By faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, escaped the edge of the sword, and won strength out of weakness.  These were God’s people, full of the fire of God’s Spirit. 

We can add to that list, people of our own time following in the blessed steps of Jesus’ holy life.  Countless mentors and teachers have rekindled that fire in us, for we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. 

Remember to consider everyday the many ways you are serving as Christ’s hands to others.  Consider too, what more you can do to be bearers of God’s word and will.

So let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith.  AMEN.

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