3rd Sunday after Pentecost- Deacon Gill- June 25, 2017

The Third Sunday after Pentecost

June 25, 2017

As the saying goes do you ever have a bad hair day?

I do. A day when I feel out of sorts with everyone and anything that I touch. A day when I seem to be in conflict with everything around me. When we first hear todays reading from Matthew we may think Jesus is having a bad hair day. It is a typical Texas day outside , we feel in a summer mood and Jesus sounds confrontational and grumpy. We have to wonder how this passage made it into the Bible.

Son against father, daughter against mother! What is Jesus saying? “ I have not come to bring peace but a sword” We know Jesus wasn’t speaking literally about a sword, because when he was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus and Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back in its place. For all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” We’ve all seen paintings of Jesus holding a little lamb in His arms; that’s the warm, fuzzy, precious moments Jesus. But the idea of Jesus holding a sword, like Mel Gibson in the movie “Braveheart.” It upsets our sensibilities! So he must have meant something else when he made that radical statement? Are the readings really saying what they seem to be saying?.

Today’s gospel reading is part of Jesus’ larger missionary discourse to his disciples. It is a major teaching moment as they are sent out in mission. Jesus invites us to recognize faith. A faith  that is able to overcome fear during persecution. A faith that is able to overcome the trials which we inevitably encounter in life. Jesus said that he came “not to bring peace, but a sword.” Jesus’ sword is the word of God. He is warning us that when people follow Jesus, they can expect to have conflicts, even within their own families.

What divides us seems more evident than what unites us. We take sides easily. We pour scorn on those who don’t share our views. If this is true of the social and political life, where, after all, hurling insults are part of the game, nowadays we may find ourselves in a church where conflict grabs the headlines away from everyday acts of kindness and love.

Jesus invites us to know we will have times of struggle when we follow him and that decisions have to be made. When choices will be difficult and may cause heartbreak.

Jesus never promised us an easy life if we become his disciples. In the words of Loretta Lynn’s song:

I beg your pardon

I never promised you a rose garden

Along with the sunshine

There’s gotta be a little rain sometime

Jesus had conflict with many social factions of first century Palestine. The Gospel today has him owning up to that reality. He says that he comes not to bring peace but a sword. He describes the conflict that he brings to families and households. He doesn’t say that this is his desire. He faces reality. He suggests that following him means the possibility of losing one’s life. Cross bearing is an integral part of the Christian life.

All of us are familiar with challenges. It’s a challenge to start a new business, to play on a basketball team, to go to school at nights while supporting your family, to agree on a course of treatment with your doctor. These are big challenges, and sometimes we wonder if we can handle them? But one of the most important elements in our success is that we understand that something is a challenge, that we see it, expect it, plan for it and have faith.

Everybody and I do mean everybody counts! Your neighbors may not know your name, and you may have been overlooked for that raise at work. Why even your family may not be giving you the attention you desire and need, but you matter to God! There is not a sparrow that falls to the ground that God is not aware of and not a hair on our head that He has not numbered and placed there for a purpose.

Father Chris and I talk about evangelism and encourage you to invite others to join us and to hear the Word of God in the church. That is not quite the same, and is often confused with discipleship. Discipleship is a process. Once you have accepted the Christian faith it is the means by which you grow in the Lord and are equipped by the Holy Spirit. We ask you to be disciples and to invite others who in turn learn to be disciples.

Discipleship is a journey that includes learning about the ways of Jesus where we learn to be obedient to the message that he wants shared with others by hearing and reading passages from the Bible; by being at Bible study or adult formation; by being equipped  to share the message. Just as the apostles were all individuals, so are we , and we all learn differently. Jesus confronted Peter; he loved John; he challenged Thomas. Jesus told Peter that everyone has their own, individualized path to discipleship.

Jesus teaches discipleship with honesty about its challenges and sends you on a mission to make more disciples. Discipleship naturally happened simply from a group of people hanging out and growing together. And it grew from there.

Jesus calls us to go and be disciples, to share our lives more fully with others. As we take the plunge, we will discover the rich, meaningful life that Jesus has in mind for all people. However do not forget that it will not be easy.

The Message by Eugene Peterson is the Bible written in contemporary language. The Message version of today’s reading says this

“A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. Be content—pleased, even—when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. …. “Don’t be intimidated.  “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.

 “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.

 “Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you?

 “Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.

 “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

If you want to be a disciple of Jesus then this is what it will take. Living the Christian life is truly a challenge. That is something that Jesus really wants us to understand. We can run from a challenge or face it. We can live in fear or we can live by faith.   Amen


Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist


St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785

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