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Luke 14:25-33
13 Pentecost

 13 Pentecost, Sept. 4, 2022           Luke 14: 25-33 Grace, mercy and peace to you from Creator, Redeemer and Holy Spirit. Amen What if today you could choose between life and prosperity, death and adversity? What would you choose? Today’s gospel reading is quite interesting. It begins with “Now large crowds were traveling with him.” When I read the text for a given week, I like to place myself in the shoes of the characters and imagine what might be going through their heads. What if the disciples noticed those large crowds and thought, “Wow! This is great! Look at the crowds! Do you remember not too long ago when we couldn’t get anybody to listen? We spent most of our time going through conflict management with the religious leaders. But now, this is what it’s all about. Huge crowds, 5000, maybe 10000! We have got to be doing something right! I can hear their minds grinding away, thinking, “So what do we do now? How do keep the momentum going and get the word out in order that we can have even larger crowds.” I know, what if we put an inspirational, uplifting message on the local radio sation brought to you from the “Good people at Peace Lutheran Church in Abbotsford - Christ Lutheran in Chilliwack.” Or what if we run a full page add in the local paper, like one I saw for a Mega church in the United States, that says, “A place where all your needs are met!” Better yet, what if we place large billboards throughout the region that read, “Peace Lutheran - Christ Lutheran, the friendliest church around.” Think this would work? Think this might drum up some more crowds? But when Jesus begins to speak to those crowds, I can imagine the disciples cringing and thinking to themselves, “Oh no! Jesus don’t tell them that! Give them something they want to hear.” Don’t launch another assault against those things we hold most dear. Our family! Our possessions! Our life! Yet that’s exactly what Jesus does. He says, not me, Jesus says, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father, mother, wife, and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. None of you can become my disciple if you do not say farewell to all your possessions.” Ouch! I bet that got rid of the crowds. So what if we contact the local radio station and advertise, “Hate your father and mother? So do we! Come join us for worship.” Or what if we run that full page ad a little differently, by stating, “Come to Peace Lutheran Church in Abbotsford, BC -Christ Lutheran in Chilliwack, BC Sunday at 9:00AM -11:00AM and be crucified!” Better yet, what if our billboards throughout the region should read, “You have enough stuff! Give it up! Come to Peace - Christ Lutheran and we’ll take it off your hands.” What if the writer of the Gospel attributed to Luke is using hyperbole to try and get the message to the people who are reading and hearing the story. For the Jewish people the idea that someone was supposed to “hate” their father, their mother, their FAMILY, even their own life was a challenge to think about what the most important thing in your life was. Jesus is promoting the steadfast refusal to allow something less valuable to displace something more valuable. In Deuteronomy 30: 15 it reads, “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.” We as human beings are given the gift of choice. We get to choose between life and prosperity, and death and adversity. What if the problem is that we see things opposite to God? What if in our minds we associate the life and prosperity that God teaches as death and adversity? According to God, life and prosperity come from loving the Lord, walking in God’s ways, and observing God’s command. According to Jesus, life and prosperity come from being a disciple with conflicts among family, giving up our possessions, and self-sacrifice—to the point of death. Yet what if we consider these teachings as death and adversity that take away from life and prosperity? What if Jesus is really trying to teach me that following him will bring me into a life of service to others, a life with others that is informed by my relationship with God in Jesus Christ and following His example of living out what was most important to him – doing the work of God in the world right now! We need to start seeing the way God sees. Seeing how God takes the wounded, the hungry, the wayward and the sinner and brings us into the reign of God and sends us out as examples to the world of what it means to put God first in our lives and in our loves. Jesus is a fabulous teacher, sure he is much more than just a teacher, but what if the lessons he teaches make us begin to think opposite to the way the world teaches? What if God sees differently and loves us so much that the Almighty is willing to come and live among us in the person of Jesus, abandon family, give up all earthly possessions, and die on a cross, so we can have life and prosperity, even though we choose death and adversity? Would that change how we live? I don’t know if have noticed but there are a whole lot of “what ifs” and question marks in today’s message about a gospel reading that is quite interesting. What if we begin to think about these strange teachings as we go about our daily tasks? What if we begin to concentrate on these Holy Words throughout the week, pondering their meaning? What if we slowly begin to understand that being a disciple of the one who gives life can be costly, that God comes first, not family, not our things, not even our life. What if we begin to see things just a little bit different? Then hasn’t Jesus gotten through to us in these strange teachings? Isn’t the Holy Spirit beginning to work in us? Maybe our sign out front should simply read “What if?” Today I put before you life and prosperity, death and adversity. Choose life!! Let it be so. Amen.