The Gospel text for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost is from Luke 9:51-62. This text is a great one about discipleship. It is about looking ahead (with Jesus) and not focusing on the past. It is about following Jesus without reservation. It is about getting off our butts, leaving the sanctuary and actually doing something for the Kingdom.
In verse 58 Jesus says, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." I have always liked this verse. It serves as a reminder that following Jesus is no bed of roses. We are not promised riches and luxury (like some prosperity Gospel preachers like to promise). We are not promised comfort. We are not promised ease of life. Jesus had no place to plop down and take it easy. Jesus has no temptation to enjoy His possessions while forgetting about the outside world. Jesus’ home was out on the road — with people. Ministry is "out there" and that is where the Christian needs to look and live. Christianity is not a get rich quick scheme. It is not a way to pad your bank account. Jesus never did any of this. Christianity is about loving people and serving our God by going to where people are at; proclaiming (through word, deed, and action) that Jesus has died and risen for the forgiveness of our sins.
Another kick in the butt this text gives me is the fact that Jesus does not live in the sanctuary of our individual congregations. A while ago I attended a meeting at another church in SW MN. As I walked up to the main door (going into the sanctuary) I noticed a sign that read, "Servants Entrance". I thought that was neat. On the other side of the sign it read, "Entering the Mission Field". I thought that was even neater. So I stole/borrowed the idea (not the sign) and now a sign like that is taped to the sanctuary door at the congregation I serve. We enter the building being reminded we are servants and leave being reminded we have a job to do. We are all missionaries (as scary as that may sound to some people). Worship may be a safe place to be, but we can’t live in the church sanctuary all week (for a number of obvious reasons). People that need to hear the Gospel live "out there" in the mission field. You find these people in your home, school, work place, coffee shop or the grocery store. They live "out there" not in your sanctuary or on your living room couch.
And lastly…this text reminds me they we are called to follow Jesus without reservation and without gripping on to the past like a security blanket. History and tradition are fine but when it gets in the way of the future you are heading in the wrong direction. Nobody drives down the highway keeping their eyes focused on the rear view mirror. Nobody travels from point A to point B in reverse (unless for the obvious reasons of course). That kind of silly (and careless) action will only get you hurt while finding yourself coming up short of your destination. Jesus does not command up to "forget" about the past, he tells us not to "look back" or long for the past to a point that impedes your movement forward. Simply…remember where you came from, but trust Jesus and follow Him while looking to the future.
In the sea of change that Salem is finding themselves in (see Changes are coming and Changes are coming — part 2, this text is going to be a fun one to preach. Trust Jesus and look forward. How can we possibly go wrong? Take care and God bless.