The Lectionary reading from the gospel of Luke for Sept. 4, 2016 (Proper 18, year C) can be found here.
Wow, Jesus, you really know how to throw down a challenge. Sometimes it feels like you are just trying to make things hard. Why can’t we have a nice gospel? Something pleasant, with sparkles and comfortable pillows and cocktails? But no, you are here going on about “carry your cross” and “hate your father and mother.” I thought I was supposed to honor my father and mother! To love them!
Here is where it becomes helpful for me to read commentary.
I am trying to catch the spirit of this, and indeed the spirit of every challenging thing Jesus is saying in this journey through the gospel of Luke. And I am struggling with it, wrestling with what is black and white on the page, and what is meant, and all the hidden context I don’t necessarily see from a 21st century perspective.
I am coming to terms with the fact that I am slow. And that it will most likely take me my whole life to wrap my brain around what Jesus is explaining to me, which is, as best as I can describe it now, this: the goodness of the Kingdom is not in material things, nor is it necessarily in those relationships which come easily to us - among people who are like us, the same skin color, the same language, the same economic status. The goodness of the Kingdom is in the invitation, the giving-away, the sharing, the awkward feast, the open-handed posture, the asking for help, the venturing out, the making connections, the lost and found, the embracing Other.
God, We hold our lives loosely before you
Offering them up to you.
You have asked us to trust in you.
We trust in you.
You have asked us to be loyal to you.
We give you our loyalty.
Help us to get our priorities straight
To honor you with everything we own, and everything we relinquish.
We entrust you with the people we love
Understanding that your love is greater.
We acknowledge that following Jesus won't always be easy.
We acknowledge that we will be asked to Do Hard Things.
Help us to become willing
To follow you,
To endure whatever suffering we must encounter,
To humble ourselves,
To let go of things that hold us back,
To risk our security,
To embrace awkwardness,
To go all-out for love.
Everything we have, every relationship, every possession
Is nothing compared to the richness of your kingdom.
Everything required of us in following you,
Is nothing compared to the joy of your presence.
May we faithfully follow the example of Christ,
And live in his light.