Even though it is (as I write) only Tuesday I am already looking forward to being with you in worship this Sunday. Though it is no startling revelation, worship is at the heart of who we are and what we do as a church. It is what sets us apart from advocacy groups, service clubs and social organizations. It is our central work of remembering who we are and whose we are. It is a joy.
I take preaching seriously because, at least in the Baptist tradition, the proclamation of God’s love is at the very heart of the work of worship. Preaching is never far from my mind. There are weeks when, by Tuesday, I have a pretty clear idea of what the spirit is leading me to say on Sunday. This week is not one on them.
Our central Scripture, Luke 14: 25-35, begins with these challenging words of Jesus, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.” As of now, I don’t know how to interpret these words. In a world full of hate and division, how could it possibly help to hate undivided even more?
Perhaps Jesus is simply reminding us that there is nothing more important than being his follower, perhaps he is acknowledging that although those we love may have a hard time with the road of love and justice, Jesus bids us walk, perhaps he is calling us to step beyond understandings of family and kinship that are no longer helpful and see everyone and everything through the eyes of unconditional love. I am waiting for leading. If you have interpretations of this text that you find helpful I would love to hear them.
I am certain that Jesus is not bidding us to love God and not worry about loving others. Somehow in reading this text we need to build on what Preacher Mixon told us this past Sunday, “Like Peter of old, we still have a lot to learn and a way to go. We’ve come this far by faith, but let’s not stop here. Together let’s keep at it until we can design and build a table big enough for the entire family of God.”
Prayers for Carolyn Matthews and family as they mourn the death of Nancy, her son-in-law’s mother; Zondra and Marty Martin; Gloria and Phil Meads; Jewelle and James Gibbs; the people of the Bahamas who have been battered by Hurricane Dorian and the people of the Atlantic coast as they prepare for its arrival; the people of Odessa and all the people of our communities who have had their lives devastated by gun violence; all who are traveling; the grieving families of the victims of the diving boat fire; the people of First Baptist Church Seattle as they celebrate the 150th anniversary of their congregation
P.S. There will be a Stand and Sing For Justice following worship this Sunday.