On Sunday, September 15, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached a sermon titled “You Are Here” from the sermon series “Come! Journey With Jesus.” The Scripture for the week is from Luke 18:18-34.
When have you been invited to take a step into the future and been terrified? Most of the significant steps in life we are asked to choose, involve a degree of difficulty, risk, and confusion.
Any time we start something new, there is a unique lifetime change. This change happens on our first day at school or work, on our first date, at our first meeting. It happens when we move to a new home, or when we call our marriage counselor or when we come out of the closet. Maybe when we start a new business, or when we follow a call to ministry. They may be exciting and precisely right, but these shifts can be difficult and risky. They require some degree of letting go.
It is where we find our friend in the Scripture today – a rich young ruler who has done well on his journey so far – a role model, with evidence of blessings because of his riches. He comes to Jesus since he is ready for the next step – until he hears what the next step is.
Christ gives this impossible and painful new thing, confronting him right in his weakness and inviting him to step away from that which holds him captive – possessions, status, power, security, evidence of blessing. Jesus said:’ Step away from that and step into a journey with me, one where together we put our trust in God,’ Jesus tells him to: ‘turn towards God and neighbor. Stop striving and start receiving. Move from captivity to freedom. From death to life. Change!’ He became sad, yet we don’t know what he chose. Was he sad because he couldn’t do it? Was he sad because he did decide to do it? And if not, then did the invitation work on him eventually?
Invitations from Christ usually linger. The more we let them in, the more the impossible becomes possible – not by our power but God’s power. We can expect this at any stage of the journey with Christ. For each invitation we receive to follow Christ, it’s not what we do but what God is doing and how we respond and cooperate and let God in. However, it’s not always working all the time. Each comes with a big, painful, costly, risky task. Something impossible but for the grace of God – testing, letting go, selling, saying goodbye.
We may not be rich, powerful, or young, but we are like this ruler in other ways. He is not sure what to do or what God is asking him to do. He is, therefore, holding a mirror to us, opening us to see ourselves as God sees us so we can love others, God, and ourselves,
God wants more for us than to be happy or good people. God wants us to be fully alive, free to know that we are indeed dearly loved, free to dwell in God’s kingdom. What some heard as demanding bad news, others heard as good news. How do you hear it? Where are you on this journey? Wherever you are is okay. Christ sees and hears you. He invites you into a next stop along the way, with him, even though it may feel impossible.
The sermon is a podcast on this webpage under the category “worship.” Here is the link
For the complete video of the September 15 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here