Sunday, September 8, 2019
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 18/13th Sunday after Pentecost
First Reading: Jeremiah 18:1-11
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
Second Reading: Philemon 1-21
Gospel Reading: Luke 14:25-33
The liturgical color for the day is: Green
We, the followers of Jesus, are possession rich and we love our mother and brother, our father and sister…so why, why would the Jesus we love say such a thing? Unless you give all that up you cannot follow…unless you give all that up you cannot “be my disciple.” Why in the world would Jesus say that?
Ah, but see, that is his point. We must get beyond the world. We have to get beyond our relationships—important as they are. We must get beyond our stuff—significant and weighty as it is. We must get beyond all that in order to see the beyond this world that Jesus calls us to in seeking life in God.
Our faith cannot be that one more thing. Our faith cannot be like that overstuffed roller bag. Our faith is not to be a sneaker, a sweater, or a hairdryer that we poke and push into the container that is our living. Our faith is not a utilitarian thing that we drag out when it is needed, and other than that it is just on the stack. Our faith is beyond that. Our faith is bigger than that.
Our faith is the whole bag. Our faith is the whole enchilada. Our faith is sum and total of all those individual pieces in our life. Our faith is our discipleship. Our discipleship is that which causes us to follow Christ rather than collapse under the immensity as one more thing is added to the overstuffed bag of our living.
And in all of that, where is God?
God is at the wheel. God is at the potter’s wheel. And our life is like that vessel. God is shaping it. Just as we, the clay, hurl ourselves off course or the forces of life push out to make us lopsided—oh, just then God is there shaping. God is there bending down. God is there moving us along.
And look at God as God attends to the vessel of your life. Look at God and what do you see? You see that God’s hands and arms and torso are covered with the clay. God is literally up to God’s elbows in our life. God is covered in the messiness that is our existence. We are a mess and God dives right into it—right into us.
It is who Jesus is. It is the cross. It is what God does. In the messiness that is the cross, God comes to us. In the messiness that is death and ending and finality—in that very mess God forms new life. God is up to God’s elbows in our endings and our finalities—up to the elbows in bringing out new life and new shape for us.
Faith is knowing that the up-to-the-elbows God does not just see you as one more thing. Faith is knowing that the up-to-the-elbows God has you, holds you, forms you, shapes you—loves you. That the up-to-the-elbows God “prays you through.” Such faith gets us through the storm.
Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter & Stated Clerk