Due to technical difficulties, you get this sermon summary instead.
I begun my sermon talking about last week.
Peter has a bold confession about who Christ is; Christ is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, and the Son of the Living God. This bold confession becomes “the Rock upon which the Church is built”.
Peter is also given the keys. In Roman Catholicism, those keys stay with the Church and the priests. While in Protestant traditions, those keys belong to the Priesthood of All Believers. The keys of grace, of mercy, and repentance which unlock a treasure of forgiveness, absolution, and reconciliation with God and with neighbor.
Immediately afterwards, Jesus begins to teach his disciples about where the path of his ministry is leading. He began his ministry, his public ministry, after his Baptism and Temptation in the wilderness. From the start, we see him rejecting the religious elite, the powerful, and authorities of the day in favor of those in the most need. Early in his ministry, we see him trying to build bridges between the two groups, but by this time Christ is well aware that it is not looking favorable. He is well aware that his passion, crucifixion, death, and resurrection will happen.
Peter responds to this in a way that we all can understand. When we have a loved one, who is facing challenges and getting down/disappointed, we tend to tell them “God forbid”, “that won’t happen to you”, “keep your chain up”, and “positive thoughts”.
We want them to stay positive about where their road is leading them.
But, Jesus is being a realist. Jesus knows that his rejection of the elite, powerful, and authorities of the day in favor of the poor and the needy has caused him to be in a rough spot. He knows where its leading, so he tells Peter “get behind me, satan”.
“Satan” is the adversary, the opposition, or the stumbling block to the ministry that Christ is doing and calls each one of his disciples (followers) into. It is not the ‘satan’ that is a little red man with horns, a tail, and a pitchfork; that is Sparky, the Arizona State Sun Devil.
But, there are stumbling blocks to our ministry following Christ.
Christ tells his disciples that each one will have to take up the cross and deny themselves, in order to gain their life. This doesn’t sound pleasant and it is not unfamiliar with our Old Testament prophets. Our Jeremiah text today talks about the isolation, the loneliness, and the need to but be resistant to preaching a message that may counter the culture and society of the day.
We have been called into that ministry, one of caring for, and loving, and serving those in need even if that puts us at odds with our own personal wants or the powerful, the authorities, and/or the culture of the day.
Looking at our Romans text, Paul tells us a little more about how to do that. In the first part of the text, we have him speaking about how to live together in Christian community: (1) make sure your love is genuine and (2) treat one another as brothers and sisters.
How do we do that in relation to the larger society?
One big piece is to get rid of hate and the desire for revenge. In fact, the text talks about if you have “enemies” and one is hungry, feed them. If they’re thirty, give them something to drink. If they’re cold or naked, give them clothing.
I didn’t mention this in my sermon, but I want to right now. We, as a people, are really good at doing this when the need is immediate. We are good at coming together to love, serve, and help one another when we absolutely have to, like with Hurricane Harvey.
But, we are called to live that kingdom into being everyday.
My prayer is that we each take up that cross.
We accept our calling and our mission to love and to serve ALL people,
whether they’re like us, or different,
or even if we consider them to be adversaries and “enemies”,
especially in our current time and place.