5 Pentecost

The Rev. Mary Grambsch

I am very happy to be back with you again here at Church of Our Savior!  It feels like I have been away for a long time and it is good to be home again.

Just in case you didn’t notice – it’s summertime.  It is hot and sticky and school has just let out for the summer.  Everyone seems to be looking forward to what will happen on their summer vacation; finally getting to all those project around the house perhaps?  Mostly people look forward to traveling in the summer.  Traveling to see family and old friends, traveling to see beautiful, exotic places, some people travel for the food, some people travel to pursue a hobby, such as mountain climbing or hearing different famous orchestras or operas.  Some people travel for their work and soon traveling becomes not a pleasure, but a necessary evil.  People travel and journey around the world for many different reasons.

All of this traveling about however, is a fairly recent development in world history.  In the time of our grandfathers, people did not travel very much at all.  Only 200 years ago most people were born, lived and died within the same town or village, most people had not traveled more than 50 miles from their place of birth.  Traveling was for the very rich, who could afford horses and wagons, or the very poor, who traveled on foot.  It was dangerous, uncomfortable, full of new and strange people and customs.  In the Middle Ages, if one had to make a trip, often families would hold a wake and mock funeral, because traveling was so dangerous that it was assumed that the traveler would never return home again.

This was true for most people in Jesus’ world, too, with one exception.  Jews in Galilee regularly made one journey: the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which was about four days walk.  And all Jews wherever they were, would tell the story of the great journey of the Exodus, when their ancestors traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land.  The oppressed group of Jews became the People of God on that fantastic journey.

Luke has all this history in mind when he tells us of Jesus’ plan to go to Jerusalem, where Jesus will fulfill the Exodus.  From this time forward in the Gospel of Luke, Jerusalem is the goal and Jesus is constantly on the move.  The first thing Luke makes clear is that it is not easy to travel with Jesus; already, before the journey begins 2 of the disciples are arguing about who among them is to be the greatest.  The disciples have to learn that God’s Kingdom goes forward, not only through them, but through other people as well. They cannot keep the knowledge of the Kingdom as their own private property.

Jesus puts some high demands on his followers.  He demands their total attention and allegiance.  No other distractions or temptations will be permitted.  It seems hard and harsh when Jesus says to the mourner “let the dead bury the dead”.  Jesus is reminding us that nothing is more important than our relationship with God.  Indeed, our relationship with God is the basis for all our other relationships; parent and child, brother and sister, husband and wife.  We must have a strong relationship with God to have powerful and loving relationships with other people in our lives.  If we spend all our time looking back over past relationships how can we look to the future and new relationships? We look at a map to see where we are to go, not to look over where we have been.

Jesus invites us on a journey, to go traveling with him.  Yes, he demands that we leave temptations and distractions behind us.  Temptations to power, temptations to wealth, temptations to always wanting our own way, temptations to selfishness.  But, Jesus offers us the journey of a lifetime, of seeing amazing things and people, of having life changing experiences, of self-knowledge and true loving and giving of ourselves. The path may be rocky and dark, but our travel guide Jesus is with us in every difficulty and hardship.

Almost everyone here has made a great journey, often from the other side of the world, often under painful and difficult conditions, leaving behind family members and friends, but, by the grace of God, you are here. You have also made a journey with God; growing, learning, questioning, trusting, perhaps suffering, all to find out God’s will for you.  All of us are on this same journey toward heaven, toward endless life with God. 

We are here together at Church of Our Savior to help each other on our journey toward God.  We are pilgrims together, sharing stories, encouraging each other, telling about how God has been merciful to us.  So, fellow pilgrim, I ask you, where are you on your journey? Do you know and feel Jesus walking with you? Is there some thing I can do for you to help you through a difficulty, a temptation I can help you resist? These are questions we should be asking one another, helping each other on the journey toward heaven.  Jesus has set his face toward Jerusalem and we set our face toward the heavenly City of God – the journey has begun.  AMEN.