Happy Thanksgiving!! We thank God, for this special Thanksgiving Sunday celebration.
This is the second year to celebrate this thanksgiving Sunday since the world pandemic. Are you celebrating in a different way this year than last year? Are you celebrating your thanksgiving with families and friends? Yes, we are freer to go out, to meetings, dining out, traveling, and to theaters with families and friends.
We are thankful that things are better and easier for our lives than last year, but of course we live in challenging times and will do so for a long time. We all know that somethings won’t be ever be the same as they were before. There are new norms and normal will be new until we get used to it.
What has been your individual harvest in your life over the past year?
What do we as a faith community harvest in our ministry?
What are we thankful for the most in this unusual and rapidly changing and evolving world and society?
With those questions in mind, we are reflecting on the gospel of Mark, "the rich man’s question." What do I have to do to inherit eternal life?
You have probably heard this passage many times before and you know the story.
In Mark 10:17–31, a rich man comes searching for the means to inherit eternal life.
In the eyes of some, he already possesses all he needs. He has knowledge of the law and its requirements and enough wealth to fulfill them.
The man is confident that he has done his duty concerning the law. In love, Jesus tells him that he lacks one thing.
What is the one thing?
Is it the ability to risk all for the faith he has diligently practiced?
Is it the willingness to imagine a world where his wealth is no longer his to manage?
Is it Compassion for the poor?
Is it a heart for the justice called for by the prophets?
Or is it a willingness to trust and receive?
Jesus tells him what he must do is sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow.
I think that even today, people don't understand what Jesus is trying to tell him.
Do you know anyone, who follows the path that Jesus is suggesting?
The rich man walks away in shock and grief. His riches enabled him to keep the law as faithfully as he did. He had the resources to pay for many of the required temple sacrifices and have others to do chores that would render him impure. How could a wealthy man, careful and observant of the law, find it hard to enter the realm of God?
To help us understand the shock, we might imagine Jesus calling us to give up practices we think central to our faith. The call to discipleship is, at its heart, not about piety, religious practices, or even morality. It is following Jesus wholly and fully.
The call to discipleship is not only about what is given up, but also what is embraced. In response to Peter’s observation that the disciples have done exactly what Jesus asks of the man, Jesus paints a picture of the community of discipleship.
It is a community of abundance and security, and, sadly for the community of Mark’s gospel and many believers today, persecution.
The community of discipleship is also the place where followers of Jesus find the one thing the rich man came looking for, but was unwilling to risk all to gain.
The question that began the conversation is not about an afterlife in heaven, but about living in the new reality that God was about to bring to bear on Earth.
This is a question that we are holding on this Thanksgiving Day.
What are we risking to bring about the kingdom on earth, to live into the reign of God with joy and happiness? What does such following ask of us, individually and as a church?
Soon we will celebrate the baptism of Farshad. What a wonderful thing that he is entering into our faith community to be part of the family of Christians to follow Jesus ‘s teachings and values.
During the pandemic, we have also welcomed a new person, Robert. He told me that he was searching for spiritual guidance, he likes our church, and he is now part of our church family too.
I trust that there are many hungry souls and spiritual needs in this world and in our community. We as Jesus followers, must provide a space for those who are searching for God’s love and peace. We need to embrace their need and give up our comfort zones so that anyone can come and experience, joyful living in God’s shalom.
Jesus’s teachings and challenges invite us to look deep inside ourselves and uncover what is most important in our lives.
Jesus implies that the rich and poor are recognized by what they choose to value. A rich man’s primary concern is to make himself look better compared to everyone else, and society convinces him to demonstrate his worth by buying the fanciest cars and the biggest houses, so to speak; however, that rich man will never fully appreciate the gravity of his purchases, as his abundance of wealth allows him to take his comfortable life for granted.
Meanwhile, a poor man owns next to nothing, but he places a far greater worth on every item he does possess. Without the distracting abundance of physical objects, he can prioritize his relationship with God above all else and turn his attention to taking care of his loved ones.
This Gospel teaches us that by separating ourselves from our physical belongings and living spiritually, we will live full and happy lives.
Jesus is a way and we are his followers. As we look for God ‘s beauty and power in the beautiful autumn colors which God made at this thanksgiving season, let us acknowledge Christ's presence and be joyful as Jesus helps us to return home, live spiritual lives with all, to be thankful and live a thankful life in this diverse, wonderful world that God made.
Thank you, God, we are God’s hope and life – living- giving.