It was the first Sunday for the new priest.
A locum, actually. Just a temp!
Everyone was waiting to form an opinion about the new priest.
They expected him to say some nice words.
First impressions, you know. They count a lot and last a long time.
Here we go. It is time for the sermon. The priest walks to the centre of the sanctuary, looks around the church, and then says:
I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” [Luke 12:49–53]
Who has the bishop’s mobile number?
We need to get rid of this jerk!
O wait, his name is Jesus?
Like we always said we wanted the next priest to be more like Jesus.
But not like that!
Today we get “Bad Jesus”
The Jesus who fails the “Being Together” document!
So what do we learn about discipleship as we walk towards Jerusalem with him?
And with each other?
Well, I am sure there are many things we might learn from this week’s passage.
Let me just touch on a few and then leave you to mull over them during the coming week.
BEYOND NICE – we are not called to be “nice” people
PASSIONATE – we are expected to “hunger and thirst for what is right” (Beatitudes)
AUTHENTIC – we walk the talk, and our lives reflect the values we affirm
FIGHT WELL – we differ over things that really matter to us, but do not hold a grudge
LOVE FIRST & LAST – we shape even our arguments by the wisdom of 1 Corinthians 13
St Mark’s Church is patient; St Mark’s people are kind; St Mark’s folk are not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. St Mark’s Church does not insist on its own way; St Mark’s people are not irritable or resentful; St Mark’s folk do not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoice in the truth. Those people bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. Their love for others never ends!
That’s all really.
But not easy to do.
Which is why we need each other.