The Gospel: Matthew 10:24-39
Jesus said to the twelve disciples, “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
Prayer: Lord, you have promised that when two or three gather in your name you will be present with them. We depend on that promise today and pray that you will move among us. Lord, we pray that you have inspired Mike's preparation, that you will enliven his presentation, and that you will empower our application. Amen
The Message: 1 Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
Last Sunday you will remember I talked about this scripture from 1 Peter. I talked briefly about how it encourages us to proclaim Christ.
Today I would like to spend some more time looking at 1 Peter 3: 15 and how it relates to our Scriptures for this morning.
First of all, let me read 1 Peter 3: 15 for us again.
"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
I'd like to draw our focus in, a little closer, and look at the longer, second part, of this verse. It probably would be designated as 1 Peter 3: 15b
It seems to me that Paul is making two rather large assumptions in the creation of these verses. I find it hard to believe that this master craftsman, when it comes to words, and his ability to create sentences, would be unaware of what he is saying here. I believe he does it on purpose.
So, what is it that I am getting at? Well, let's break that long sentence into it's two parts. First of all, it says: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you.."
So, what is the first assumption? Well, Paul is assuming that his readers will have people asking them questions. He assumes that these people will be distinctive among their fellow citizens, and their neighbors, in their behavior, that people around them will want to know why. He is expecting that people will be asking questions, and trying to understand, who these followers of Jesus Christ are and what they believe.
Then the second assumption? Well, that these people, these Christ followers, will know for themselves, what motivates their behavior. They will know what they believe. That they understand about their personal convictions and attitudes. They will have thought about their convictions and will be able to articulate to others what drives and motivates them. They will be able to formulate answers, not based on just what they have heard from Paul and others, but answers for themselves.
This is not just some community assent project that everyone generally accepts. You know the kind of thing that can happen in groups. Where those in the group have a general understanding of what the group stands for.
No, this is a matter of personal conviction, a reasoned and considered approach to personal values. This is something they are ready to talk about, and this is something that they are ready to share with others.
This then, is something they are ready to talk about because it is important to them. They know what they are hoping for and they can put it into words for other people.
They can explain themselves, and their behavior when they are asked about it.
We are back to that definition we talked about last Sunday. The definition from the Episcopal Dictionary: "Ordinary time can be understood in terms of the living out of Christian faith and the meaning of Christ’s resurrection in ordinary life."
So, we are Ordinary Christian people who are living our ordinary lives. But, Jesus did say he came to give us life and to give it to us abundantly.
So, we are really ordinary people who are living our ordinary lives in relationship with, and under the influence of, an extraordinary God.
This morning I want us to begin to look at the Scriptures for today in Romans.
Paul is laying out the distinctive nature of our lives as Christians. This is a high bar, isn't it? Who of us here today would say that we are able to achieve what Paul is talking about in this reading? To "live without sin" just seems to be beyond us. Well, I'll be honest it is beyond me. But Paul lays out a schematic or a plan for understanding this process. He lays out what we are hoping for.
"We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin."
We find ourselves striving for the life that Christ offers us. We have the hope that we can depend on the death and resurrection of Jesus rather than our own personal striving. Our hope is in Jesus and the work that he offers to do in us and for us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
"For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him."
Then as we move to the Gospel we are again confronted with great challenges. Jesus is continuing to instruct his disciples and preparing them for the journey that is ahead of them.
He wants the disciples to be aware of the kind of world that they are going into. They will face threats and potential bodily harm. He says to them that they are not fear the possibility of dying in the work he has assigned them.
Then he talks about what might happen to some of them when their families hear what they are doing. Some of them will lose those who they have considered the closest to them. These are challenging words and challenging circumstances.
The most obvious question they will be asked is: "Why are you doing this?"
Now we may not find ourselves in the circumstances that these disciples were about to. But, we may find ourselves acting differently from our friends and neighbors as we live beside them in our world today.
Once again we come back to the fact that those people Paul is addressing in Rome and the disciples that Jesus is sending out on assignment are all ordinary people. We have heard about them this morning and we have heard about the circumstances that they found themselves in. We have heard how they found their lives changed because of the Lord's call to them to follow him.
So, we are once again faced with the question: "In this Ordinary Time that we find ourselves living in, are we willing for our Ordinary lives to be examples of "the living out of Christian faith and the meaning of Christ’s resurrection in ordinary life?"
How ready are we to be noticed as being different from our friends and neighbors?
How ready are we to answer the question: "What are you doing this?"
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
May the Lord bless our endeavors for him this coming week.
Bishops & Father Mike