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“The Cost of Discipleship” 13th Sunday after Pentecost - September 4, 2022

May God’s Word be spoken, may only God’s Word be heard. Amen +

One of the primary liturgical manifestations of Diaconal ministry, which is just really a fancy way of saying, one of the cool things Deacons get to do in the service is proclaim the Gospel, Gospel meaning the Good News. So we process from the altar to be among the congregation, hold high the gospel book and proclaim, “the holy gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, according to Luke”. But honestly, there are times when I walk down there, open up that book, and knowing what I’m about to read, literally want to slam it shut and say, “nope, ain’t got any good news today” and return to my seat behind the altar. Today could well be one of those days!

For me, and perhaps for many of you, it is jarring to hear Jesus say, “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.” Wow… That’s just doesn’t line up with the Jesus who is loving and inclusive and compassionate that we talk about in so many sermons and in our formation and in our prayers. And what I know about myself, is that when I hear something that sets my teeth on edge, or makes me want to bow up my back a bit, that’s when I have to step back and say, okay, what is this reaction saying about me, and am I really hearing the whole story if this is supposed to be Good News?? So when I’m getting these reactions within myself, I have come to learn that is God’s call to me to draw closer to God and dig deeper for the meaning God is conveying to me, and so y’all are stuck with me on this journey this morning.

So let’s set the scene a bit. Jesus has left the relatively small group dinner from last week’s gospel reading (preached so beautifully by Mtr. Miriam) to where in today’s reading it says large crowds were traveling with Jesus, as it seems word of his teachings and healings have begun to spread – maybe he’s even elevated to rock-star status. They see Jesus as a winner, so that somehow joining this parade, they become winners, too. Jesus knows he is on his way to Jerusalem and death on a wooden cross, but the crowd thinks that he is on his way to Jerusalem and a golden crown. After all, how could a true Savior of the people be anything less than royalty or a conqueror in the conventional sense?

Then, it seems that Jesus makes an abrupt halt, turns to them and makes this puzzling statement about hating your family.