from penitence into action

A sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent, March 13, 2022

Jesus is a bit indignant today.

Herod knows where Jesus is, it isn’t a secret, Jesus isn’t moving in secret, Jesus isn’t sneaking around avoiding confrontation. Jesus is simply doing his work, among the people, and all are welcome to come and be a part.

So, when Jesus is warned today (whether with actual concern or with the less noble effort to just move him along from their territory), Jesus is a bit indignant.

And, it’s not just because Herod knows full well where Jesus is.

It’s not just because Herod could come and confront Jesus himself if he wanted.

It’s because Jesus’ ministry and work in this creation goes beyond these petty politics and territorial skirmishes.

Jesus’ ministry and work in this creation is about something bigger than himself, and Herod’s seeming threat isn’t going to rattle Jesus because he knows that something else is coming, that another path has been laid out for him, and it is God’s will that this path, this call, be answered and fulfilled, for Jesus’ ministry is not tied to this one moment, this one location, it is bigger than the narrow-mindedness shown by Herod and those who prop him up.

Jesus must go into Jerusalem.

Jesus must come into the holy city to make his word known.

Jesus must come to Jerusalem to face his ultimate call, knowing that the holy city has never welcomed its prophets with open, welcoming, safe arms, at least not for long.

So, what is our take away from the scriptures today?

How does this message from Christ call us into following him, call us into mission, into faith, into living into our understanding of what it means to be Christian, here and now?

I think for me it is something straightforward and simple, it is modeled by Jesus multiple times throughout his work and teachings, and is something that we have emphasized these past several weeks in reflecting on Jesus’ lessons for us:

There is an inherent strength found in our faith.

No matter what the world may throw at us, no matter what the forces of evil tempt us with, challenge us with, attack us with, we have an immense source of strength in our faith.

Through God all things are possible is not a motivational slogan but rather a reassurance that the strength of God is on offer to us in our faith, we simply must accept that strength and use it in our call to follow Christ.

Jesus knew this reality deeply and modeled it for us here today, again.

It is a certain fearlessness in the face of what we know will be a challenging task.

This fearlessness that Jesus puts forward today is centered and built upon the strength found in faith, but goes another step forward in asking us to take that knowledge of strength and know that we will be asked to face challenging task, to face impossible odds, to go up against the very powers and authorities of the world, but because of our strength in faith we can accomplish all of this with quiet confidence.

We also see today that there is apparently strength in sarcastic responses but I feel like that’s a much more dangerous skill to lean into…

It’s sometimes hard to trust that this strength in faith is there for us to access.

I think the realities of the world as we perceive them and as we are taught to accept them put us into a state where we do not trust the strength of our faith, whether it is because things seem impossible to tackle, they are much too big for us, they are beyond our ability, they simply are the way of the world and we have to accept it because that’s that.

I recently started a Feminism for Men formation program put on by our diocese focused on learning about my own role in being formed and shaped by (and in turn benefiting from and continuing to prop up) the patriarchy, that is the system of our society where men, especially straight white cis-men, benefit from simply being without any further effort or work. It is a societal reality where mediocrity by people like me is celebrated, whereas those who are not like me, especially women, must work so much harder in order to receive the same recognition and praise within the context of our society.

We have only begun to dig into this work and I am looking forward to the learnings I can obtain and how they will shape my own understandings of leadership and collaboration within the context of our church world as much as I look forward to learning how to teach my daughters and even the girls I’m entrusted to coach soccer for in how to navigate this society and demand their access and recognition for their contributions. And, as we’ve begun this work, I’m struck by the concepts that have so far been taught: that this is incredibly hard work because I’ve been taught to fight this work with every fiber of my being because it means giving up status, privilege, and power.

We are so used to the systems that exist within our society, and we are so used to benefiting from the systems that exist within our society, that it can feel nearly impossible to try and unravel them and change them.

Whether it is the systems of sexism that prop up men, or the systemic realities of racism in our country, or the realities that homophobia and transphobia have allowed systemic injustices to be baked into our society, including the continual passing of laws that seek to actively harm children and families, most recently with our neighbors to the east in Idaho, all of these systems feel like they are simply a part of this society we live in and while we can learn to navigate around them, trying to use whatever sliver or heap of privilege we possess to support ourselves within them, if we simply accept them, we do nothing to acknowledge that these systems are not the hope for creation that God expressed when this world was created.

So, how do we stand against all of this?

How do we stand against the realities of this world that everyone else around us has accepted, even if merely for their own survival?

It is the strength of our faith that we must turn to.

It is the example of Christ today that we must turn to.

Jesus makes a clear observation of what is expected of him today.

Jesus makes a clear statement of what will be expected of him, even as he enters Jerusalem, and alludes to the reality of what will happen to him because the society is not ready to accept that the way to God means a change to the ways of the world.

But Jesus continues his work today even under threat of political and religious authorities, Jesus will head into Jerusalem soon, because the strength of his faith propels him forward, fills him with the ability to continue in his call, empowers him to stand in defiance to what the “way of the world” is according to those who have declared themselves the authorities.

This is our call today in this season of Lent.

To seek penitence for our own giving into the structures of this world that are unjust, whether to benefit or even just to survive.

And then to move from penitence into action.

To follow Christ on the way.

To walk in love as Christ loved us and gave his life for us.

Who can you support in this season of lent that is doing the work of tearing down systemic systems of injustice in our society today?

Where can you begin to tear down these systems whether within your own framework or within our wider community?

How can you advocate for those whose voices have been lessened, made other, removed from the platform?

This Lent we are called to see the world as it truly is, just like Jesus does today, and in seeing the world, to lean into the strength of our faith and work to make this world more like the creation of God that was deemed very good.

We can do this, we will do this, through our faith, through God, with whom all things are possible.

One thought on “from penitence into action”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s