Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pentecost 18, 2015: The path of love

Lectionary: Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22; Pslam 124: James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50
Preacher: The Rev Dr. Valori Mulvey Sherer, Rector

Today's sermon was preached from the following notes:

En el nombre del Dios: Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

Today’s Scripture speaks to us maturity of faith -

In the gospel from Mark, John, one of the sons of Zebedee lodges a complaint against someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name: “He doesn’t follow US.”
Jesus’ reply surprises John – and probably the others as well – but he is teaching then (and us) to move from a club-membership or clan mentality to kingdom mentality. The new age Jesus is ushering in is inclusive: there is no longer Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free, for all… are one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).

We all follow JESUS and it’s about FAITH, not doctrine, clan membership, or status.

The exorcist is not the enemy – immaturity of faith is. Include him, don’t exclude him. Teach him, help him grow in faith. Show him the path of love.

Immaturity of faith has symptoms which include:
superiority (we know the truth, the right way to act, talk, believe, worship)
judgement (they are wrong, we are right; they are bad, we are good)
exclusion (they aren’t in our club)

Jesus teaches us that it isn’t our club – it’s his church, his body in the world, and being a stumbling block has consequences.

Millstone passage. Here’s how important this is to Jesus who says: If your hand, foot, eye causes you to stumble, cut it off.

HAND – our actions... Last Supper, Jesus said: the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table (Lk 22:21) – his betrayal of Jesus); Laying on of hands, re: healing prayer – the action of God; Jesus continual assertion that the kingdom of God is at hand - happening now

FOOT – our direction/path, where and how we go... "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who proclaim salvation." (Isa 52:7)

EYE – how we receive information, how we perceive and understand. E.g.: animal cruelty, child abuse/spouse abuse, self-abuse – all come from how we “see” the other in relation to ourselves.
Depersonalization –allows us to make an enemy of another person. They become a classification: illegal alien, rather than a brother or sister in the family of God
Superiority/hubris – enables us to harm creation: animals, resources over which God has given us dominion. Remember, RULE: God’s way is our sacrificial service to them; our way is their sacrificial service to us

Jesus’ is telling the disciples – if any of these things cause you to create a stumbling block, cut them off.

Commentator: We don’t take Jesus words literally but we do take them seriously. “Discipleship requires amputations. We need to amputate bad habits – resentments – ambitions that cause us to act unethically. The recovering alcoholic or drug addict needs to amputate old relationships that threaten to pull him/her back to a life of addiction. The rich young ruler needed to amputate his wallet. We need to amputate things that stand between us and God.” (Source: Dick Donovan,

As we will pray together in our Eucharistic Prayer: “Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us…” (BCP, 372)

It is God’s work. How privileged we are to be instruments God uses. How sad – and risky – when we get in the way.

For everyone is salted with fire, Jesus says. Salt was used to preserve food. The purer the salt, the better the preservation of the food. And fire is the symbol for God. .. the burning bush, the pillar of fire…

Followers of Christ are salted with fire… we are preserved by God, with God and in God. What is preserved in us is the truth of the good news: salvation in Jesus Christ

If we allow the priorities of the world to corrupt our saltiness; if we act on behalf of a club we have built rather than working for the kingdom God is still building through us, then our eyes (our perceptions/understanding) will lead our collective feet on a path of action that is out of step with the will of God. We will have walked off the path of love, and we’ll know we are off the path of love by the lack of peace and goodwill among us.

As the commentator says: “peace is often threatened by Christians who insist on imposing their own agenda rather than working peaceably with others… Jesus is calling us to be at peace with others” and ourselves. (Source: Dick Donovan,

This is maturity of faith. Trusting God. Allowing God to move us in directions that surprise us, maybe even scare us a little, as the kingdom is spread among us and through us.

As theologian Jim Marion says: “When the kingdom is established upon Earth everyone will be spiritually developed to the point of living effortlessly… In that Kingdom there will be no disease, no war, no suffering, no poverty, and no death. All humans will live in conscious union with God and with each other, each one manifesting Spirit in their own uniquely creative way (Mt 13:52). This creativity will continually deepen and find ever new and wondrous ways of expressing itself, for there is no end to the depths and riches of God, nor is there any end to the gifts God is prepared to shower on those who follow the path of love (1Cor 2:9).” (Source: “Putting on the Mind of Christ, The Inner Work of Christian Spirituality,” Hampton Roads Pub Co, 2011, pp 291-292)

This is the fullness of God’s grace to which we run, as we prayed in our Collect. There we find the heavenly treasure strewn abundantly, lavishly everywhere – on the path of love.

May we have salt in ourselves and be at peace with one another as we share our Holy Communion, where God acts to make us “one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.” (BCP, 372)


No comments: