September 19th 16th Sunday after Trinity.
May I speak in the name of God who is Father Son and Holy Spirit
So for those of you who don’t know, I am an avid fan of murder mysteries, psychological thrillers and action films. I love watching things such as Criminal Minds, NCIS and so on where you have to follow the clues, find the bad guys as it were and save the day….Sometimes however, these films and series do not end the way I think they will. I am truly shocked by the twist in the tale or by finding out the bad guy was a good guy all along and spend time thinking about it and talking about it with others who watch or my family, it has an impact on me and I remember the film or series as a result. I imagine when the disciples start hearing Jesus talk about his death and resurrection that they are some what shocked by the twist in this tale. They have probably had in their minds for a while the way they think this is going to play out. Jesus coming to everyone’s rescue, ridding the world of evil leaders and bringing folk together under one banner and then they hear him talking about his death and resurrection, not once but three times in total and it is probably casting questions and doubts through their minds – what is he talking about? What have the last few years been for if we are not going in all guns blazing? When did this happen?
Hearing Jesus talk like this probably had them stunned so they argue about who will be greatest rather than think about something that just does not make sense to them they change the subject. And Jesus, instead of expanding on his statement about the Son of Man dying and rising again asks them a question based on their discussions – what were you arguing about? Being the greatest – it seems not much has changed, even in today’s society this is something that people are told they must be. People are rarely given any recognition for coming second, being a vice principal or a deputy head. The Olympics and Paralympics strive hard now to say that silver and bronze are acceptable medals but there are many athletes who will tell you that they are disappointed that they did not win gold.
However, Jesus tells us that being the greatest is not about coming first or being in charge. Jesus often told people to remain quiet about the things he did, he tried often to speak privately with his disciples, and he did not boast about who he was and why he had come. Jesus spoke about how we behave, rather than what we are in our job roles. He does not say do not be in charge or do not come first in the race. Rather he says think about how you are in those roles. Do not boast about being in charge or winning all the time, but be humble, treat those who work for you with respect, kindness, honesty and love. He speaks about our feelings and what we hold in our hearts towards others. Are we honourable towards them?
In the reading from Jeremiah, Jeremiah is finding out that people are wanting to erase him from the history books as it were, that they are being less than honourable towards him but instead of Jeremiah ranting and raving about them, he turns to God and says you take care of them, I hand them over to you. This is what Jesus wants from us, to turn our thoughts, feelings, concerns and hurts over to him. To bring before him the difficulties we have as well as the joys that we share. To give thanks for the good we have and the blessings that he bestows on us as well as giving over the tough stuff too.
We have to remember that it is God’s path that we follow, not our own. The disciples had their own agenda in mind when thinking about how things would end. They thought about the ending they would like to see. The reality was the God’s ending was so different and despite how it looked on the outside so much better because the result is forever. Jesus death and resurrection means that as Christian people, God’s people we have the promise of eternity. However, this is not something that we should boast about, rather this is something that we share with humility and honesty because as we heard in James - the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Following God’s path means putting our own desires, wants and needs aside so we can work together for God’s Kingdom – so we can work together to show God’s love – so we can work together for the good of the community we find ourselves in. So this next week, let us put aside all that we think we know about where we are as a church, where we are as individuals and allow God to come into our arena to show us his plan for our future and the future of St Mary’s.
Rev Marie Edwards