Worship Service for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost

Hello everyone,

Welcome to worship for this 16th Sunday after Pentecost, which lands on September 12, 2021!  Our worship bulletin can be found here.

The bulletin will have the order of worship, the words and responses of the liturgy, the hymn/page numbers corresponding to the ELW, and the sermon in full.  If you don’t want to download the bulletin, you can just follow along with the words on your screen and the sermon is also included below the video.

If you would like to enhance your at home worship, you may have some elements in your space. For the Thanksgiving for Baptism, you can have a bowl of water to interact with.  For communion, you can have something small to eat and drink during the singing of the Lamb of God.  And for the whole service, you can have a lit candle that can be extinguished during the sending hymn.  These are all optional, so please just do what is most comfortable for you.

May God’s blessing and peace bestow you with divine wisdom and discernment, this day and always!

If the video doesn’t work, please click here.

O Lord, may your tongues of wisdom be heard by the opening of our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit, that we might follow in your way and walk in your path, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

So, school has started and I’m trying to get back into routine.  Being forced to wake up early and getting the kids ready for school is a great motivator for me to… well… wake up early and get the kids ready for school.  But the problem this year is that the routine has slightly changed and so the timing of everything has to shift with it.  Without getting into the gory details, a lot of the precautions that were in place for our kids and parents at the school to more easily distance from each other are no longer in place.  So instead of a staggered drop off and pick up, EVERYONE IN THE SCHOOL IS THERE AT THE SAME TIME.

What does that mean practically?  More traffic.  More hair pulling around the typical parent driver who is completely oblivious to other drivers on the road.  And those parents that have no clue how to park so they take up much more space than they need, so there is less room for other cars.  And don’t even get me started on the days when the neighbours’ garbage gets picked up as it just makes the traffic even worse, especially when the garbage truck decides to roll down the street at the prime drop off time.  Sigh.  It is so frustrating for me.

And I know, I can just be a bit more patient.  And generally, I am a pretty patient person.  But just my luck, one of my major triggers that throws that patience out the window is around punctuality.  In that I like to be punctual.  I like to get my kids to school on time.  I would rather wait for others instead of having them wait for me.  And it frustrates me to no end when others don’t feel the same way as I do, which seems to be like the majority of the school population.

I mean, if they did care about punctuality, they’d be more considerate.  They wouldn’t be driving so dang slow and getting in the way of others.  They would be more like how I want them to be.

Uh oh.  Maybe I’m setting my mind on human things, and not on divine things.  Maybe I’m too focussed on myself than the greater good.  Maybe my frustration isn’t around my need for punctuality, but around my own selfishness.

I think that’s what Peter’s problem is in today’s gospel lesson.  We know this story.  We remember it as our pride in Peter for finally getting an answer correct gets shot down in flames with him being called Satan when he pulls Jesus aside and tells him that he doesn’t want him to die.  Jesus tells him that his problem is that he doesn’t have his mind on divine things but rather on human things.  But what does that even mean?  How do we ever hope to have our minds set on divine things and not human things when we, last I checked, are human?

But Jesus isn’t done confusing them or us.  He says that whoever wants to follow him must take up their cross.  And this would have been baffling for them, because in those days, the cross wasn’t a nice piece of jewelry you wear around your neck or a symbol you draw on your forehead with some water.  In those days, the cross meant punishment.  It meant humiliation, guilt, and shame.  The cross meant death.

And Jesus says we should pick up our punishment, guilt and death to follow him?  If I were Peter, I’d be like “nah forget it, I don’t need this, I don’t need to pick up my shame and be called Satan for it” and bail on out of there.  I’d rather take my chances in the cruel world.  I’d rather be able to do my own thing and face the consequence of my own choices.  I’d rather just follow a Messiah that fits the mold that I make, one that listens to me, does what I want, and says that I want to be right.

And there it is again.  There is that attitude around selfishness and egotistical pride that we are the sole proprietor of all the right answers.  This idea that we somehow know better than everyone else and that our own opinions beat all.  This belief that there is a stark contrast between right and wrong and that there is only one proper way to do things, and that way is the way that we would do them.

This is what Jesus meant about having our minds set on human things.  This is why Jesus asked what people are saying about him.  This is why Peter, while getting the answer right, actually got it all wrong.

Because Jesus is reminding us that there comes a time when we will need to question our own selfish pride and know-it-all attitudes.  There comes a time that we will need to be humbled and realise that we don’t have all the answers.  There comes a time when we just need to hang up our old ways and look to him to figure out the new ways.  The old ways of seeing the cross, for example.  The old ways of understanding what it means to have power.  The old ways of defining a Messiah.  The old ways of holding onto those old ways.

And when those old ways are let go, then there is room for the new ways.  There is space for new understandings.  There is the chance to change our lenses that will then allow us to see things in a new light that will hopefully bring us joy, peace, and love.

See Peter said Jesus is the Messiah, but his interpretation of the Messiah was the old way.  He couldn’t handle the thought of Jesus suffering under the religious leaders.  He had to pull Jesus aside and tell him that his new way is wrong.  He had to assert his own opinion on Jesus, thinking that he somehow knew what was best.  And Jesus declared Peter as the adversary at that point.  Peter’s mindset was in the way.  Peter couldn’t let go of that old way, and Jesus had to put it in its place.

So then the question is, who do you say Jesus is?  Because who you say he is, and how you interpret that, will change the way you act, the way you treat others, the way you live.  Who you see Jesus as will reinterpret life for you.

Is Jesus a militaristic patriot or a humble servant?  Is Jesus an authoritarian king or a suffering saviour?  Is Jesus a punishing judge or a gracious Messiah?

See how we understand Jesus changes for us the things he says and teaches.  How we see Jesus changes for us what truly is right and wrong.  Who we say Jesus is humbles us and allows that righteous change to even take place within us by God through the power of the Spirit.

So that whole school drop-off thing for me?  I can stop seeing it as others being inconsiderate bad parents, and change my perspective and see how lucky we are to have kids to even be able to go to school, and that the frustrating traffic is just part of the package.  That cross that Jesus asked us to pick up?  It no longer is about punishment, shame, and death, and the fear around those things.  But instead it becomes about forgiveness, mercy, and life for all people.  And the Messiah?  The title no longer brings ideas around power mongering, totalitarian rule, and dominion over one’s enemies, but Jesus the Messiah brings humble service, gracious freedom, and community together in God’s kingdom. 

The old ways are just that, the old ways.  We can let go of the selfishness, the self-centeredness, and the self-indulgence.  We can let go of how our minds are set on our own human ways.  We can let go and let God.  Let God continue in God’s new ways, transforming us by grace and reforming us in love.  Let God’s humility run in and through us, allowing us to see the follow of our ways and adhere to the ways of God.  Let God’s redeeming salvation inform us of who we are, whose we are, and what we’re even doing on this earth.

May we, as God’s beloved children, continue in our pursuit of holiness, bridling ourselves by God’s strength, and discerning right and wrong by God’s wisdom, that as we continue in our journey in this season after Pentecost, we might know more fully just who Jesus is, in transforming us and shaping us by the power of the Spirit.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

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