Sermon – Rev Gil Shoesmith 02/16/14

Sermons_Rev Robert Szo_St Stephen's_ St Mary'sMark 10:13 – 22.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be ever acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our strength and our Redeemer. 

And may our hearts and our minds be open to your word /and message through this talk/ that  You have provided to me, to the Glory of God.  Amen.

Well, it didn’t take me long to come up with an opening statement for today.  It is………….. “GOD ISN’T FINISHED WITH ME YET !”   I believe those were the first words I said to our wonderful Rector Rob /when he came into my hospital room just a few hours after I had come out of the Cath Lab.   Now, I was still a little groggy from the sedation, however I do believe further (and I stand to be corrected by Rob) that he replied, “Good, because we aren’t either!”

In my research into this Gospel writing /I found one of the Themes of Mark to have the ultimate purpose /of presenting and defending Jesus’ universal call to discipleship , which, by the way, Rob alluded to in his very 1st sermon of this series.  Discipleship being, more than just what you have / but what you actually do.  The rich young ruler HAD everything  / however didn’t DO anything /worthy of entering the kingdom.  And even when he asked:  What must I DO… to inherit eternal life..(?) and Jesus tells him..he didn’t do it. 

(pardon the pun..) but what “Marks” the heart of the disciple’s life / is an intimate relationship with Jesus.  A friend of mine asked just a couple weeks ago:  what is one of the most important things we commit to in a relationship (?)   be it:  spouse;  parents; children;  grandchildren; even friends:  …..TIME ! This includes trusting Jesus;  confessing Jesus as the Son of God (relating directly to Rob’s sermon of Jan. 12th);  it is about observing the conduct of Jesus / and following His teaching with the view that He truly is the one and only Son of God (relating to Rob’s sermon of Jan. 19th);  this will eventually shape us into becoming Christ-like and being prepared to face the kind of rejection that He faced too. 

Then on the 26th Rob continued on about the different brokenness we encounter.  We see others from the outside (physical) ailment / whereas God sees our inside spiritual paralysis.  So, worse than the hardening of one’s arteries (physically) is the hardening of one’s heart, spiritually.    

On Feb. 2nd we heard about turning points and in particular, who do we say that Jesus is?  Mark 8:29 divides Jesus from any and all other “leaders” as the true Christ.  If we DO  believe in the resurrection:  we had better listen to the only one that went through it !

Just last week we heard of the inspiring story of what Mrs. Breshnev did at her husband’s funeral.  I, personally, don’t need photographic proof.  I believe in my heart that God wants us to know /  that she made the sign of the cross in a place of deep  spiritual darkness and we don’t have to go to a funeral in a foreign country to find that.  We’re in the midst of it almost every day. 

And we are called to let our light so shine before others /that they will see our good works / but Glorify God who is in Heaven.

 I see today’s Gospel as being about ‘Respectability  vs.  (true) Christianity.  Respectability is not enough / and it is not the act of doing /whereas Christianity is / the doing of Action.  The rich young ruler WAS respectful.  He had kept all the commandments (mentioned) since his youth. However, all but one of those were negative:  i.e.  do NOT murder;  do NOT commit adultery;  do NOT steal;  do NOT bear false witness;  and yes it is ‘respect’ that keeps one from NOT doing those things.  The only positive one:  Honour your Father and Mother is again, respect, but even then it is only kept within one’s family.   Whereas Christianity is to give of yourself (outwardly) to others;  to follow Christ’s instructions to “be servant of all”

There is a definite contrast sited here between a childlike trust /and an adult’s trust based on what possessions he has /or what social position he/she holds.  Children have neither — and yet when they see Jesus /and come to Him in a trusting way/ and literally accept Jesus or receive Him, they deserve / and are as worthy of love /as any seemingly important, prestigious adult.

In the previous chapter of Mark, when the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest, Jesus took a child and put the child in their midst /and took the child in His arms and said:  “Whoever receives one such child in my Name receives Me, and , in fact, not only receives Me, but Him who sent me.”  In today’s reading —- granted the disciples were legitimately trying to protect Jesus — they didn’t want him to be bothered unnecessarily /because remember where He was headed, to the Cross.   But Jesus was just a little indignant with the disciples and said: “whoever does NOT receive the Kingdom of God like a child (with child like trust) shall NOT ENTER.

Then the former phrase is repeated:  and Jesus took the children in His arms and blessed them and laid His hands on them.  Big contrast to a wealthy adult /whose pride lies in the possessions that he has/ and thinks that he can inherit eternal life for what he has NOT done:

(He hadn’t killed anyone;  hadn’t committed adultery; hadn’t stolen anything; or defrauded anyone and he had honoured (respected) his parents as per the noted commandents.)  The fact that after being offered a way out he couldn’t give up what he had, he did, in fact, break the very first commandment:  “You shall have no other Gods before me.”   The rich ruler idolized his wealth and his possessions.   

Back to Rob’s word about turning points.  Another chance to assess Who Jesus really is?  And, who do I (each of us) say that He is?  Well, I had a turning point.  It wasn’t a promotion, or a wedding, or a game altering sports play:   In technical terms it was a myocardial infarction. 

Now…. I would never suggest that anyone else have to go thru that to have a turning point in their spiritual life.  These turning points or self analyses can be so simply and/or so subtle:    Lynda C. and Trish were talking at a soup’s on Friday a couple back and Lynda so perfectly in my eyes:  (hope I don’t misquote her) But, it is as much about what I heard and got out of it as what her words were.  Something like this:  I’ve been thinking about who Jesus is in my life and I wondered when I am I going to stop just sitting in church going thru the motions as I have been for so many years and actually really get to know Jesus and where I am with him.  And then she put it so simply:   I picture myself sitting on His lap. 

 If it will help you, close your eyes —- just for a few seconds — and bring that image into your mind.  ……. Sitting in the lap of Jesus.  When Lynda asked me what I thought of this, I said:  words to the effect, that’s amazing as you have just hit at the heart of Rob’s series on Mark’s gospel.

Maybe you don’t need a turning point to reassess your spiritual condition.  But, is it just “respectful” or is it as Christian fulfilled as it could be(?)  I do claim a belief that a weekly reminder is NOT too often and therefore re issue the challenge to asses exactly where you may be at / in the many and varying stages and developments /of spiritual paralysis.  Is your faith and trust in Jesus, the Son of God – child like?  Jesus knows your heart and your soul and your mind and your strength.  Do you TRULY love Him with all of those?     This  IS  the 1st and Great Commandment!

I offer all of this to the Glory of God.      AMEN

These turning points or self analyses can be so simply and/or so subtle:  Lynda C. and Trish were talking at a soup’s on Friday a couple back and Lynda so perfectly in my eyes:  (hope I don’t misquote her) But, it is as much about what I heard and got out of it as what her words were.  Something like this:  I’ve been thinking about who Jesus is in my life and I wondered when I am I going to stop just sitting in church going thru the motions as I have been for so many years and actually really get to know Jesus and where I am with him.  And then she put it so simply:   I picture myself sitting on His lap.   If it will help you, close your eyes —- just for a few seconds — and bring that image into your mind.  ……. Sitting in the lap of Jesus.