Pondering for Sunday, August 14, 2022

Eucharistic Readings for Sunday of Proper 15: Year C

Jeremiah 23:23-29; Psalm 82; Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12:49-56:

“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”  (Luke 12: 51)

Jesus is now informing them (and us) that a moment of decision has come, and we must decide which side we are going to follow.  This is literally a fork in our faith road.  It is to believe, or not to believe, and then to act accordingly. To turn toward one person or value or goal is to turn away from another. “Peace in the sense of status quo has been disrupted,” (Says Fred B. Craddock writing for Interpretation; a Bible Commentary on Luke p.166).

God is acting toward the world in Jesus of Nazareth and has created a breaking point.  We must break to one side or the other. We cannot have it both ways. It is one thing to say that you don’t believe in God or Jesus or the Church.  It is a much weightier thing to try to live that out. Lord have mercy.  We all are going to be cast out of this life. And there is only One who will catch us, if we are to be caught.

When I told my mother many years ago that I had joined the Episcopal Church, I noticed a sudden sense of urgency in her. She wanted to know if I still believed in Jesus.  And, she wanted to know if I still celebrated Christmas and Easter.  After I assured her that I did to all of the above, she was fine. I am always amazed about how little people know about the Episcopal Church.

While my mother did not bring us up as a “churched family,” It was important to her that we trusted in Jesus.  She wanted us to believe. This brings us back to the division that Jesus talks about in Luke today.  There will be division on this issue even within households and families. What does it mean to choose on the side of Jesus? I have found four truths and a possible fifth.

First, If you believe in Jesus, you already believe in God. And God is good, All the time.

Second, you can believe God sent Jesus or that God is acting in Jesus. Christian churches have waged war over this issue rather than care for their needy. They seemed to worry more about what people say they believed about Jesus rather than how they followed Jesus in life.

Third, Believing in Jesus means we are called together with love-minded (not hate minded), worshipers weekly to remember him in the Sacraments, the Body and Blood, as He commanded us to do.

Fourth, (and this is too often missed) we are called to care for those who differ from us: Even those who don’t believe, to feed them, clothe them, heal them, and if their time comes, to bury them.

The possible fifth truth, is to teach and baptise and or confirm those who want to come and join us.

This is a division, a breaking point in our faith lives. Often it is a thankless decision of division. But this is what Jesus came to do. He said, “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”  And, he has done it. This is the Baptism he came to receive and has now accomplished. A decision of division lies in our path. Which way will we go?

Will we just set back and worship Jesus? Or, will we have the courage to actually follow our Lord Jesus. Will we respect the dignity of Every human being? This is what we are called by the Holy Spirit of God in Christ Jesus to do. Are we listening?

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

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