Year C Lent 2 Luke 13
Who Lives In You?
Let your imagination run free for a moment and picture yourself, your personality, who you are really, as a house. Any kind of house will do -- just so it's yours. For some it may be a huge castle, with lofty turrets and banners waving in the breeze, a place that is safe and secure. For others it may be a rustic cabin, tucked away in the woods, a peaceful and quiet refuge. For others still, it might be a nice little retirement home, with a rocking chair on the front porch, a shade tree in front and a nice warm breeze stirring flowers blooming in front.
Now, move in closer and imagine the front door of that house. Picture someone pushing the doorbell, clanking the knocker, or rapping on the door. If someone came to the door of your house, who would they find inside? Who lives in you?
I'm not sure about you, but I've met people who gave me the distinct impression that if I went inside the "houses" of their lives, I wouldn't find anyone home. Or if I went inside their houses, they would be so cluttered with junk that there wouldn't be any room for anyone. Or some whose houses are great and impressive on the outside, but once I entered everything would be artificial.
Who lives in you? That's the question for us to address this Second Sunday in Lent. Who lives in you? What guides your decisions? What sets the course of your life? What determines the way you think and treat others around you? Most of us would like to say that it is our Christian faith that determines who we are. But is that so? For there are two kinds of people who can be home -- citizens of the world and citizens of heaven.
Who lives in you? Think back over the decisions you've made this past week. Who made them -- a citizen of this world or a citizen of heaven? Recall the way you spoke to those around you and the way you treated others. Who was present then? What about the offering you bring this morning, what kind of relationship with God does it reflect? Is it a citizen of heaven, the child of God, who is present in us? Or is it a stranger of this world, one who cares little about others, who thinks first of him or herself, whose actions fail to give witness to the allegiance we claim to have with God?
Who lives in you? What stirs you each day of your life? We'd like to...
Lent started early this year. With the east coast up to its eyebrows in snow, the Lenten season was underway.
I only learned recently that every year Fat Tuesday comes to an abrupt end at midnight. New Orleans police shut down the Mardi Gras festivities promptly at 12 am in reverence for Ash Wednesday. The stroke of midnight is the moment Bourbon Street revelers must give it up.
We always think of "giving up" something for Lent. Some people give up meat. Others give up sweets, or alcohol, or television. If you want to face a real Lenten challenge try giving up your cell phone for forty days! [At this point you might want to make a karaoke moment and ask what people are "giving up."] But even that might be enough to get you in a true Lenten mood.
Preacher Kimberly Long tells this story at the beginning of one of her Lenten sermons. Entering church on Ash Wednesday, Nora Gallagher encounters a friend who, when asked what she is giving up for Lent, quips: "Anne's giving up drinking, Terri's giving up chocolate, and I’m just giving up" ("Things Seen and Unseen," Journal for Preachers, Lent 2007, p.9).
Ever feel like that? "Just giving up"?
"Just give up" was the Pharisee's advice to Jesus in today's gospel text. Herod is after you. He has you marked for death. Get out of town quick. Give up your mission here.
When Jesus hears this warning, he surprises those Pharisees by both disregarding and embracing their message. Jesus dismisses the threat of Herod with a flip and a quip. Herod is nothing but a "sly fox," Jesus quips, forever plotting but powerless against God's mission in the world. Jesus has his own schedule, his own agenda, his own mission to fulfill, and the time-frame has already been divinely determined.
But Jesus also asserts he WILL give up. He WILL give himself up. He WILL travel to Jerusalem and meet head on the traumatic tradition of that city encapsulated in this phrase - "Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it" (v.34). Jesus will give up everything, his very life, in order to fulfill his eternal mission of salvation.
Let me put it as clearly as I can: Jesus will "give it up" in order that we might "get it all"...