Devotional Message: The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 15C (8/18/2019)

Revised Common Lectionary Texts

Jeremiah 23:23-29
Psalm 82
Hebrews 11:29--12:2
St. Luke 12:49-56

Semicontinuous First Reading and Psalm

Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19

Prayer of the Day

O God, judge eternal, you love justice and hate oppression, and you call us to share your zeal for truth. Give us courage to take our stand with all victims of bloodshed and greed, and, following your servants and prophets, to look to the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

12:49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided:
father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

St. Luke 12:49-56, New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Message: “Faith and Family”

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? Well, yes. We call you “The Prince of Peace.” The pastor begins his sermons with “Grace to you and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” After we pray together during worship we extend a greeting of peace to one another. The final words we hear every Sunday are in the command to go in peace. Yes, we rather think you have come to bring peace to the earth; at least to the church.

Jesus, of course, suggests otherwise in this weekend’s Gospel lesson. Division. Three against two and two against three in one household. Father against son; son against father; mother against daughter; daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law; daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

It is helpful for readers of St. Luke’s Gospel to remember that in the ninth chapter we are told of how “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (St. Luke 9:51) From this point on, his demeanor changes; his intensity rises; his message sharpens. He is determined to make his way towards the cross, and his ultimate fate, no matter how many people oppose him (and many do). He knows this isn’t what most of his followers have in mind. He knows this isn’t the fate any of them would have chosen for him. But he perseveres.

From here on in St. Luke’s Gospel we encounter many strong sayings like this one. Increasingly, Jesus teaches his followers that being true to him, and to his message, is more important than anything else: even more important than something as central to life as family relationships. It certainly isn’t that Jesus is anti-family. He does much to give strength to those faithful ones who love and care for their families. In fact, according to St. John, one of the last actions he took before dying was to shore up his own family’s future:

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. [St. John 19:25–27]

Yet, in a world where “traditional family values” and “commitment to putting family first” receive so much attention, we would do well to remember these words of Jesus. They remind us that as important as our families are to us, even more important is our relationship to God, our commitment to the Gospel, and our determination to live as followers of Jesus Christ in all that w say and all that we do.

In fact, it is only when our faith comes first, that we can be everything God wants us to be for our families.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel

  1. What is the “fire” Jesus brings to the earth?

  2. John has already baptized him in the Jordan, so what is the “baptism with which [I am] to be baptized?”

  3. In what ways might the first century Christian community experienced the division he describes?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel

  1. When have my faith commitments set me at odds with people who are close to me? (or when has their commitments caused the same to happen?)

  2. When is Christian faith a source of peace for a family? When is it a source of division?

  3. How can a strong commitment to living like Christ influence the family?