“I came to bring fire to the earth. You think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”
Yikes. It’s one thing when the tough passages come out of the Old Testament. I mean, that’s where we expect them to come from. Quotes from the sheep-toting man from Nazareth are supposed to inspire love, not cause us to shirk and grimace. Snaps to Pastor Bob for not skipping this lectionary reading. Readings like the one from Luke this week remind us that Jesus was in opposition to many people. We rightly think of Jesus as being “for” people, and indeed, Jesus is the ultimate and final expression of God’s “YES!” to humanity. However, Jesus is rejected on the cross. And the cross-shaped life of Jesus is not only a sign of the world's rejection of God, but is also evidence that there were patterns, habits, and systems that Jesus opposed and upended.
Bob noted that people tried to help Jesus out. They tried to keep him out of hot water. Don’t say this…be careful overturning those table…don’t hang out with those people right now…maybe wait until Sabbath is over to do that. But Jesus did things and said things that caused him great rejection. We think of Jesus living a life of peace, but trouble followed him everywhere. “God is at home in the neighborhood of travail,” Bob said on Sunday.
Bob quoted CS Lewis to make the point that we need to pay attention to the ways in which Jesus might oppose us: “We have to convince our hearers of the unwelcome diagnosis before we can expect them to welcome the news of the remedy.” The good news of being saved-being made whole-being healed is only good news to those who recognize that they cannot save themselves-are not whole-are in need of healing.
Each of us has habits that Christ opposes. We each listen to voices that God rejects. On an individual level and on a corporate level, we participate in patterns that are sinful. Jesus located the problem of the world, not 'out there' somewhere, but in the hearts of every human being. The solution to evil, Bob suggested, is through the renovation of human hearts. Overturning sinful patterns and changing sinful habits will put us at odds with people, places, or institutions. It was a tough word from Luke this week, but honest opposition to the sin in our lives, though difficult, is necessary for bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
We pray for the Muslim community in Queens, New York, who today are mourning the murder of their Imam and and his assistant. We pray that the killer will be brought to justice and that you would cause an outpouring of your Holy Spirit in our world so that love would overcome hatred, and peace would gain ground against violence everywhere.
Lord, Hear our prayers for all men, women, boys and girls who are homeless this day. For those sleeping under bridges, on park benches, in doorways. For broken families because they could not afford rent. For those who are afraid and hopeless. May hope touch each homeless heart, spirit and life. Let the kindness of others bring lasting benefits, bring freedom from addiction, illness and misery, open their humanity to include and embrace themselves.
We pray for the community of Nettelhorst School. We thank you that this is building a place of learning for this community and that it is offered as a place of worship for us on Sundays. Bless this school, staff, administration, and children. We also pray for the funding needed to continue to provide great educational opportunities for all children in the Chicago area.
O Christ Jesus, who reveals God's desire to bless and care for the world, we pray that your Holy Spirit would stir up our hearts to desire peace and reconciliation with loved ones and enemies alike.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers,
- Thanks to everyone who joined us for Brunch on Sunday. Special thanks to Ana and Jason Caref (Millie and Hank, too!) for hosting everyone! Pics from the events are at the bottom…
- Women’s Meetup is Tuesday, August 16th; All women are invited! Women’s meetup is a casual event meant to bring women from Grace together. More information can be found on our events page.
- Grace is cooking at Breakthrough this Thursday. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in helping out!
- Dinners with Grace is this Friday at PhD Pub in University Village. Vic and Tiffany are hosting! Bring a friend! RSVP and find out more at this link!