SERMON from Rev Antony for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, 19th 5eptember 2021
The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity.
Proper 20 Year B
Reading Mark 9:30-37
One of the things to remember about today’s Gospel reading is that the disciples are all on a journey. The story tells us that they are actually moving through Galilee to Capernaum, but more importantly, they are on a spiritual journey, and such journeys are never simple.
All spiritual journeys require deep thought and questions must be asked and answered so that we can make decisions about what is wright and what is wrong, but above all we must answer the question peter was asked last week, “who do you say that I am.”
Peter responded you are the Christ the son of the living God.
A spiritual journey requires us struggle and wrestling with our own spiritual battle as we try to discern who Jesus is for us.
In today’s gospel we note the disciples are questioning among themselves who is the greatest among the group, their looking for power, but this is not what Jesus is about, in fact Jesus’ motivation is Just the opposite of power.
Jesus demonstrates this by using the children as a model of trust “Whoever welcomes one such as a child, Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put the child in his arms he said whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
With these words Jesus is saying do not be selfish, do not be self-absorbed but be self-aware of how your actions affect others.
How often in our spiritual lives do we feel like we need to start again, trying to understand the best way forward for us as individuals and for us as members of the body of Christ, the church.
The way we do things is often a long way off from really understanding our role as Christians, let alone living into the ideal of Jesus as the “suffering servant.” Unfortunately, it is in the suffering that transformation often occurs, and who wants to deal with that. (Only Jesus.)
One response can be, like that of the disciples who fight for power. The problem is that such a response can allow us to move on but in the wrong direction, happily deluded in our own sense of control this sense of control takes away the aspect of faith?), without continuing the struggle, without any deep change in mind and heart to follow Jesus there can be no real transformation in our lives.
So, it is we need to come back to Jesus, not by looking for power but by coming to Jesus in a way that we can truly sense we are all part of something much bigger and greater than ourselves, so we need to come to Jesus in a childlike acceptance not a childish acceptance but a childlike acceptance, meaning in that simple faith that in following Jesus without power and control we place our faith in him to lead us on this journey of faith.
For me it is a simple understanding, a simple “knowing.” When we arise each day that we strive to be, conscious and aware of the gratitude that we owe to Jesus, This Jesus who takes our faults to the cross, who dies for us and opens the gates of heaven to all who believe in Him.
In this form of gratitude, we begin to understand the full truth of God’s love, and how that love changed the world through his suffering for us, but yet we struggle in that tug of war between power and following Jesus.
The disciples continue to feel this same tug, as they follow Jesus, and they fall short of his expectations. And no doubt we also miss the mark.
So we go back to the child, The importance of being like a child. Quite a metaphor! Perhaps also too easily dismissed as “the simple trust of a child.” I think there is more here. Before one can move to where Jesus is, to give everything, including one’s earthly existence, one must first be ready to receive. If you cannot receive, you will never be able to truly give. But we don’t like that because to receive we have to be vulnerable; we have to surrender our sense of control. In short, we must be as an unprotected child, and trust, the opposite of what the disciples are doing at this point in the story.
learning to trust and let go has been for many people a long and winding journey. We cling to what is famillier.
The disciples have a long way to go on their journey. I guess we all have a long way to go on our journey.
You may have a long way to go on your journey – in part, because we all resist the invitation to vulnerability and surrender to Jesus. But when we accept Jesus in childlike fashion the path is opened to us.
All our stories are still coming true, and for me that too is the Good News we find in Jesus today. Do not get distracted by focusing on getting it right. Step back correct yourself, and continue on your journey. That is the key. That is what Jesus is trying to teach the disciples, and us today.
It is simple ... and yet it is hard.
However, the fact that our stories and our lives meet together in worship, means that we have a way forward, a way to deal with our own versions of doubt and resistance and for that, I am reminded, yet again, that we should be grateful for all Jesus had done for us, in his life, death and resurrection.