Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sermon for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

"If you love somebody set them free"
The Dream of the Blue Turtles

"So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." 

The humilty we heard of last week gets turned outwards.
We are to regard others as more important than ourselves.
Now, such humilty, not looking out for ourselves, gets turned on to how we view our relationships.

Do illustrate, Jesus deconstructs the standard building block of society: the family.

‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”

Now we all know that he doesn't mean hate your family.
That would be disgraceful and evil.
That certainly is  not what he means for us to do.
But he is asking us to look at our relationships, and our understanding of family.
He is asking us to look at how are relationships are, how they work.

The key is the phrase:
"So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." 
We have heard Jesus speak about our attachment to items, but here is speaking about people.
The Greek helps a bit.
“Possessions” in the Greek can be “possessing.”
So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessing.
When we heard about the danger of possessions, we found it wasn't the things in themselves,
but rather our attitude toward them.
Here Jesus is saying that we need to look at our relationships, and our attitude toward them,
or rather our attitude toward those we are in relationship with.

If our attitude toward our possessions was the problem,
then it follows that our attitude toward our relationships has the same problem,
that of trying to own or possess them.
To this Jesus adds “even life itself.”

It's our possessing things that turns love to hate and life to death.
We try to possess others and we try to possess our own lives.
We don't treat our lives and the lives of others that we love as a gift.
We treat them as something as something we have worked for, have earned.
Life isn't something we have to cling on to.
Life is not something we need to possess.
It is something we have to be able to share, something that is for everyone.

Our relationships are the same.
Those we love we need to be able to set free.
We have to be able to let go of those we love.
If we let go it means we aren't trying to possess them.
If we let them go, we can receive them back as gifts.

I know there is a lot of pain around this for some of you.
For many of you feel hurt by the fact that your children haven't followed you in the faith.
I think what Jesus is getting at here may be of help and comfort.
It may lead to some uncomfortable soul searching, but I think it will also lead to healing of relationships, and healing of yourselves.
If you have truly let go of your relationships with your children,
you will see that their decision to follow Christ is nothing to do with you or anyone else. We can't possess our children. We love them, and that means freedom.

The only way to true life is for each of us to be willing to give up all our possessing.
And this is true of our churches.
We can't possess them.
We have to be able to let go of any ownership of them.
It is only by doing so will they have true life.
They aren't ours to possess, rather they are ours to let go, to be free.
They are ours to give to others as a gift.

All this isn't to say that we aren't to care for our relationships, our families, our churches, ourselves.

It is more that we need to look at our attitude toward them.

It follows from Jesus humility we spoke of last week.
Jesus showed the ultimate in humility in his giving of himself, his very life, on the cross.
He saw his life as something to give.
In doing so he showed us the way to real love, love that doesn't need to posses.
God's love doesn't possess, it gives, even in death.
On the cross, Jesus said “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
The last thing he did was to give his life to God the Father.
And that act wasn't the end.
In three days, God the Father gave his life back to him.
And that life Jesus shares with us, eternal life, a gift.

If we treat our lives as a gift as Jesus did for us, we know we can't possess anything.
By giving we receive back.
Generosity breeds generosity.
Jesus gave his life so we could have eternal life.
We give freedom to those we love to receive freedom.
"So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." 
To be a disciple of Jesus means a great letting go of possessing anything.
He gives us that freedom and to be a disciple means to accept that freedom and to live our lives freed from the need for possessing anything.

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