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September 4, 2022: “Pentecost 13Luke 14:25-33"

Pentecost 13

Luke 14:25-33

Rev. Doug Reble

Assistant to the Bishop Eastern Synod

In the name of the God who loves us all, grace to you and peace.

First of all, let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Pastor Doug Reble. It is my privilege to serve as Assistant to the Bishop in the Eastern Synod and my responsibility to deliver the last sermon in the ELCIC Summer Sermon Series for 2022. Hopefully these sermon offerings by my colleagues have been a blessing to you and enabled all of us to grow in God's grace, each in our own way.

Now to the matter at hand. Today's sermon. So, I have a question for you. How would you describe the perfect pastor? Take a moment. Okay, no one is perfect so describe the good pastor. Describe the good pastor in your head. Here's one take.

The good pastor, he/she/they, is 28 years old and has been preaching for 30 years. He/she/they is tall and short, lean and hefty, has one brown eye and one blue eye, hair parted in the middle with one side blond and straight, the other dark and wavy. The good pastor works from 8 AM to 10 PM, from preaching to teaching to visiting fifteen seniors every day and spending all his/her/ their time with the youth. The good pastor preaches powerful and challenging sermons but he/she/they never steps on anyone's toes, and, of course, never goes on for more than fifteen minutes.

The good pastor reads all the church growth experts and they know how important it is to create a safe, caring environment, where people believe their concerns will be heard and their needs will be met. The good pastor finds out what people are looking for and gives it to them, so that they don't leave and join the megachurch across town.

The good pastor works hard to make sure worship is satisfying, educational events are appealing, that plenty of opportunities for fellowship and service exist.

Okay, next question. Would Jesus have made a good parish pastor in the light of my description or whatever description you came up with in your head? Not on your life!!!

According to Jesus in today's Gospel reading we cannot be disciples unless we hate our family, carry our crosses, and give up all our possessions. Not on your life, Jesus!!! If Jesus were the pastor of any average congregation, I figure there would be four people left there on Sunday mornings and chances are those four would be fooling themselves.

Jesus is the complete opposite of the good parish pastor, far from trying to make it easier for people to follow him, he points out how hard it is.

Why does he say all these disturbing things about hating your parents and children? Yes, maybe to get peoples' attention, he was being provocative, and, of course, we know he didn't hate his mother Mary so why should we hate our loved ones. So, yes, Jesus uses provocative language to get our attention and he gets it. But Jesus doesn't stop there.

He goes on to say that whoever does not carry his cross cannot be his disciple and then he goes even farther telling us that none of us can become his disciples unless we give up all our possessions. Not some, mind you, but all!

No, Jesus would not have made a very good parish pastor, but I do think he made a very good saviour and I don't think he is through saving us yet. Frankly in these days of a global pandemic and accompanying economic crisis, political division and discord all over the world, protests for justice and a better world for all people, the war in Ukraine, and every week a new catastrophe, we need Jesus, our Saviour, now more than ever.

We need a Jesus through whom God participated in human life. We need a Jesus who often found himself in trouble because he took his place beside the poor, the outcast, the vulnerable. We need a Jesus who asked the right questions and lived the right answers. We need a Jesus who suffered as we may suffer; died as we must die, and was raised to life as we shall all be raised. We need a Jesus whose humanity means ultimate hope for all of humanity.

My friends, I really do not think that Jesus would have been a very good parish pastor. But Jesus made a very good saviour and Jesus is exactly what our world needs.

Jesus' message of peace, sacrificial servanthood, neighbourly love, and unconditional justice is exactly what our ailing world needs. Our responsibility as Christians, as followers of Jesus, and there is a cost to this discipleship as todays Gospel reading clearly points out, our responsibility is to name and claim that message right where we are, in our home, our places of work, our places of worship {online and in person), our places of learning, our places of play, our world, and to do it in words and actions, in the most clear, caring, loving, and just ways we can.

May it be so.

In the name of the God who loves us all. Amen.


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