Sermon Reflection for Sunday, September 16, 2018 | Respectfully Submitted by Brenda Worley
He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”
Mark 8: 29
The Gospel reading from Mark chronicled an effort by Jesus to help his disciples understand what being the Messiah meant. He describes the suffering, persecution, and death to come. Most importantly, he lets his disciples know that he will rise in glory (Thanks be to God!). He is rebuked by Peter and Jesus sets him straight by saying “Get thee behind me, Satan!”
Mother Mary’s sermon put the focus on the necessity of knowing who we are and whose we are. She shared a couple of stories that emphasized this point. Her stories were of men who stepped out in courage to live the life they were called to live.
The first was the story of Telemachus. Telemachus was a Christian monk from Asia who lived around 400 AD and committed himself to a simple life of faith and denial of worldly notions. Telemachus journeyed to Rome and witnessed the barbary of the killing games of the gladiators. He left his seat as a spectator and entered the arena, stepped between the two gladiators, and commanded that this spectacle end. He was killed. It is recorded that Emperor Honorius was moved by Telemachus’ courage and ordered that these fights end. There was never another such exhibition in Rome. Telemachus became a martyr and later a saint. Knowing who and whose he was gave him the strength and courage to face what God led him to see as wrong and step up to cause change.
The second story is set in modern time during some of the horrible fires in the north western area of our country. The fires were raging and a man, a fireman, on vacation wanted to help. He came upon a neighborhood that was being threatened, but the inhabitants were still working to clear a fire break. He begged them to evacuate and promised that he would do all that he could to save their homes. Working for 26 hours straight, he was able to keep his promise and the home were saved. When interviewed by an awe-filled local news person, he simply said, “I am a fireman and fighting fire is what I do.”
To remember who and whose we are is to live with integrity. With a summary of the epistles from the last few weeks, Mother Mary pointed out that they have been teaching us how to do just that. Today’s epistle from James warns us about the problems that can be caused by not controlling our tongues. It points out that blessings and curses should not come from the same source. What we say matters and can tear down as well as build up.
We are called to live in relationship with God and others. Hateful words can destroy those relationships. For example, an abused spouse who finally decides one day that they are not going to take the abuse any more. The risks are big for this person, but without acting with integrity they will never be able to face the rocky future. It takes courage for us all to live with integrity.
God gives us life to give it away. We give it away by working on our relationships with others. All others. Not just the ones who look like us. Not just the ones who think like us. We will, like Peter, miss the mark and forget who we follow. By words of confession we can find our way back and be reconciled. This forgiveness and reconciliation not only restore our relationships but brings us peace. May you live in peace always because “Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who journey the way with us. So be swift to love and make haste to be kind.” Always and forever, Amen.
This Sermon Reflection was written by Brenda Worley, 9/19/2018