sermon from Sunday, February 21, 2016 by Pastor Jonathan Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 Psalm 27 Philippians 3:17-4:1 Luke 13:31-35 Lent 2, 2016 About a year after we first moved here, in fact, it was 9 days after Chelsea officially began her job in Marion, I woke up sick one day. As one who is rarely sick, I am not a good patient! But this kept getting worse and finally I called Chelsea and told her something was wrong and I needed her to come and take me to this hospital. A few hours later, a surgeon came in saying I need to take you appendix out. At that point my response was something like: I don’t give a crap what you do, just make this pain go away! One of the most memorable moments from that brief hospital stay was the folks who came to see me. I have walked into hundreds if not thousands of hospital rooms during my ministry, but it is totally different when you are the vulnerable one. Skimpy hospital gowns aside, it was different being on the receiving end of concern, care and of others doing things for me for a while. I received one very important gift that day, aside from a nice scar – a new appreciation for walking down the hallway with an IV pole in tow! I am struggling this week and really for the last few months with a concept that may seem ridiculous to some…how are we vulnerable in our lives? And perhaps more importantly, how are we vulnerable in our faith? I think of this concept often especially in response to what I hear from other people in stressful, difficult, and different situations. It is hard for many of us to think about being vulnerable before others, and yet, it is a part of life and an important part of what makes us human. A few years ago, I remember hearing President Obama’s comments regarding the Newtown shootings where 20 elementary age students were killed in senseless violence. Politics aside for a moment, I was deeply struck by the genuine sense of grief and the way he allowed himself to be vulnerable to an entire nation. I am struck by this partly because it is rare for political figures to expose themselves in such a way. In fact, if you are following the current presidential race, it is rare for any of the candidates to admit to being vulnerable, for fear it would be misconstrued a weakness. There is a difference between being vulnerable and being weak! Perhaps one of the reasons I’m thinking about vulnerability in this text is the fact that I spent much of Thursday afternoon this past week scheduling a knee replacement and the many doctor’s appointments, scans, tests, and various other things that have to take place before this surgery can happen. It reminds me that I too am human, prone to weakness, especially in the mind and knees, and not always able to fix or take care of everything as I wish I could. All of this points us to Jesus who is confronted this morning with his own vulnerability. In fact, when his supposed enemies warn him about how vulnerable he is in his current state and place, he simply embraces this reality! He assures them that he will be in this same place for the next few days, healing, teaching casting out demons and generally being present for those in need. If that fox wants to find me, tell him where I can be found! This may seem like reckless vulnerability; however, it acknowledges that Jesus turned his face towards Jerusalem in chapter 9 of Luke and since then has been slowly working his way there. Jesus also acknowledges that Jerusalem is the place prophets have the hardest time and until he arrives there…he was relatively safe – and despite this knowledge…Jesus always and continually journeys to the place where he knows the cross is looming. Jesus had a tremendous concern for Jerusalem, especially in the gospel of Luke. Jerusalem is referred to 90 times in this gospel; it is referred to 49 times in the rest of the New Testament. In verse 33, when Jesus comments: “and on the third day I must be on my way”, the emphasis is placed on the must. The Greek word used in this case infers a divine passive. That is, God has directed this move and God’s will must be carried out for the mission and ministry of Christ to be fulfilled. Our baptismal journey is linked today to the journey with Christ as we celebrate with Nora Amos and her baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection. We give thanks for Christ’s journey to the cross as we celebrate the new life in the waters of baptism. We are called through this event, to remember our own baptisms and seek ways to continue to grow in faith, hope and love as we journey with Christ to Jerusalem, to the cross, and to the empty tomb. These are journeys of faith, journeys filled with expectation and hope, brutal honesty, judgment and the promise of life everlasting. These journeys see the captive set free, the sick healed, the demons rejected and the Son of God revealed as light, the true light that calls us forward into the realm and kingdom of God. As we journey through this season of Lent with Jesus and continue to make our way towards the cross and the empty tomb, we are challenged to find ways to be vulnerable, not only in our lives, but also and especially in our faith! This is another realm that is difficult for us to come to terms with. Fear often keeps us silent as we fear sounding stupid or unknowing. Fear keeps us from asking the challenging, difficult and pertinent questions that could change our faith or open our faith to a new and amazing level. As we think about the three disciplines of Lent: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, may we think about how these could change our lives of faith? • May we think about the gifts God has blessed us with, the time, talent and ability to store up treasure for ourselves, for the mission of the church and for the future we share together? As we consider the ways and means that make us comfortable, may we find something more to share with others in need? • May we consider for a moment the power of prayer and the ways it can change our lives, our perspectives, and our outlook on life and others, especially those with whom we may disagree? Praying for others, especially those in need and those with whom we disagree has the power to change us and to change our hearts and perspectives, not to mention the fact that we are raising others up before God! • May we ponder the gift of fasting, not just from those foods we desire, but from the over indulgence we consider normal in our society and culture? Weather it clothing, cars, food or fancy coffee drinks, we are a society of over-indulgers. The journey to the cross with Christ during this season of Lent is ultimately a time for us to consider who we are and whose we are. As children of God who are marked and claimed with the sign of the cross, we are challenged to journey, to ponder, to consider, to seek the way of change, of being vulnerable in life and faith, and being willing to see the real us shine through the tarnish and polish of life. When faced with ourselves, our sins and failures, our joys and dreams, may we see in a mirror dimly, the cross on our foreheads, the promise of a future journey with God in Christ, and the ability and the hope to proclaim something new, something different is happening to us as we slowly become vulnerable and open to changing, our thoughts, our relationships, and our ability to be vulnerable before God and neighbor.