Proper 16

St Andrew’s, CarbondaleJohn 6:56-69, Ephesians 6:10-20, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

(Usually I preach from a full manuscript. Occasionally I don’t. Today was one of those occasions, so what you see here is my own working outline.)

  • After the long wilderness discourse … “breadapalooza” of the last three Sundays (3 different preachers in 3 different churches mentioned the marathon), now in the synagogue in Capernaum … Jesus names himself as the revelation of God (“As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me … will live because of me.”)
  • “This is a hard saying,” the disciples (the “crowd,” actually) complain … colors too far outside the lines of Jewish orthodoxy … many withdraw … approval ratings tank, audience share crashes.
  • Jesus to the 12: “Do you also wish to go away?”
  • Peter to Jesus: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” In effect, Where else would we go. You are the revelation of God.
  • Foreshadowed in the Sinai wilderness (Israel poised to follow Joshua into the Promised Land). Joshua’s “pep talk” challenge, “Choose this day whom you will serve” parallels ‘Are you going to ditch me too?’; and the response, ‘We will serve the Lord, for he is our God’ parallels Peter’s response, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’
  • Active & faithful Christians in our culture are seen more and more as coloring outside the lines … not only no longer the definition of mainstream, but not even a neutral or harmless; rather the proclamation of the gospel in word or deed is seen increasingly as offense, as “hate speech,” and threatening to the social order.
  • Society says, “I have a right to be whatever I want to be and do whatever I want to do. I feel, therefore I am. I own my body and am sovereign over it.” The gospel says, “I am marked as Christ’s own forever. I belong to him as my Savior and Lord—body, soul, and spirit. I have been bought with a price. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Society says, “You only live once. So get what you can while you can. Seize the day!” The gospel says, “Serve others. Love others, even your enemy.”
  • So, many, as we know, are leaving the church behind! (which is, of course, to leave Jesus behind) How then shall we live? We’re caught in a vise between the expectations of the world around us, and our identity and commitment as followers of Jesus.
  • The good news today is that Jesus ensures that we are well-equipped to meet the challenge of choosing him (Paul to the Ephesians: the whole armor of God).
  • It’s not just “flesh and blood” that we’re up against, but “spiritual forces of wickedness” (that rebel against God) — they’re real, though usually disguised quite cleverly)
  • Picture the soldier on the Roman Meal bread package (if you can remember it!):
  • Belt of truth—notice, not the sword or club of truth; it holds us together (keeps us centered, focused), not a weapon
  • Breastplate of righteousness—not self-righteousness, not a license to be judgmental or feel superior to others who are unrighteous or less righteous; rather, an invitation to self-forgetfulness
  • Shoes of the gospel of peace—reconciliation is our business, not conflict. Our objective is not to conquer anyone or “win” anything. (N.B. catechism on the mission of the Church)
  • Shield of faith—active (disciplined, well-fed) faith protects us against those “spiritual forces”
  • Helmet of salvation—wholeness, health (salus)
  • Sword of the Spirit—yes, a weapon, but one we do not wield!
  • And so we keep on keeping on, faithful to our duty as disciples of Jesus—even in challenging times—as he is faithful to us.



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