Devoted Disciples (Brad Childs)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
8th Sunday after Pentecost
10:00 am  , 2022
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering  as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Lynn Vaughan
Elder: Gina Kottke

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.

Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship

Call to Worship

L: Friends, let us worship God today, for God is great-
P: God has blessed us with life, with faith, and with community.
L: Let us worship God today, for God is good-
P: God forgives us, and encourages us, and loves us.
L: Let us worship God today-
P: Because we are God’s people. Let us worship God.

Opening praise: This is amazing grace

Prayers of approach and confession

Loving and holy God,
with expectancy and joy
we gather – confident that you alone speak the words of life;
that in you alone we have found our hearts’ desire;
and that by your grace alone we have been rescued.

When the way forward is unclear, you will shed light as long as we seek it,
when the way ahead is uncertain, you will give peace as long as we seek you,
when the times are challenging, you will stir hope as long as we understand that You yourself are our hope.

Deep is our need for you.

Deep is our longing to know you and your purposes.

Deep is our desire to be nurtured by your grace.

You alone are worthy of our trust, praise and worship and in spirit and in truth we bow and proclaim, not us Lords of our live, but rather You the Lord of all our lives.

Despite the joy that is ours, we confess that there are times when we find the ways of faith hard.

You created us for goodness but there are times when we would settle for much less.

There are times when others suggest an easier life are more attractive and we are easily turned around.

There are times we would substitute self-interest for loving others.

There are times when we chose anger rather than forgiveness.

There are times when we do harm to those we love and ignore the needs even of those we care for.

Forgive us for being so fickle. When our footsteps waver may your grasp our hands. In dark times feed the embers of our faithfulness with the flames of your love.  May your kingdom’s power strengthen our determination and give us energy to follow your lead. We offer our prayers through Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Response: We come to ask Your forgiveness, O Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

We are justified by grace as a gift through the redemption that is found in Jesus Christ and an empty tomb. He renews us over and over again. No matter what may soil us, He give us clean hands. Thanks be to God.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: He’s got the whole world in His hand (339)
Story: Life moves on. People leave. But Jesus is always present.
Prayer: Are you broken hearted, do you know someone who needs prayer.
Let’s ask God to heal their broken hearts and bandage up their wounds.

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Musical Offering (Binu, Brad & Lynn): The Power of the Cross

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Mark 8:31-38

Response: Glory to the Father

Homily: “Devoted Disciples”

There’s this story of a soldier who is frantically digging-in during battle. Smoke fills the air and shells fall all around him. Suddenly he hears a huge blast and ducks down to into a ball as fast as he possible can with his face in the mud. As he attempts to get up, his hand feels something odd beneath it. Its metal but it’s not a shell.

He grabs it. As he looks down into his mud covered hands he sees a small silver cross. Another shell explodes and he buries his head in his arms. Just then the soldier feels someone jump in the foxhole just to his side. He looks over to his surprise and sees an army chaplain. Immediately the soldier thrusts the cross into the chaplain’s face and cries out, “How do you work this thing?”

In this morning’s scripture when Jesus talks about bearing our cross, we could ask the same question: “How do you work this thing?” The reality is that this is not a new question. Even the first disciples asked that very same query. The Apostle Peter was a rather brash man. And he didn’t really know the answer to that question either.

It’s been said that the only reason the Apostle Peter ever took his foot out of his mouth was to switch feet. It was here in Caesarea Philippi just outside of country region of Galilee; in the shadow of Ancient Palestine, where Caesar was a god, (and officially titled “Son of God”) that Peter discovered that his wandering teacher from Nazareth, wasn’t going where he thought he was going. Peter had in mind some great political upheaval where Israel would become a great world superpower lead by the Messiah (or Christ in Greek – a word meaning: Savior).

The messiah/king’s was rule not only over Hebrew people, but the world. This is the image Peter has in mind. How could Jesus be the Savior if he’d come for any other reason but to save the people from political oppression? But instead, Jesus tells his friends that he’s heading for a cross. He’s not safe. And he doesn’t want what Peter wants.

The revelation is astounding. The savior Peter expected, was about to be put on trial and condemned to capital punishment. That’s not what Peter signed up for. He was the lead student of the days greatest revolutionary. He was in line for a job in this New Kingdom Jesus was describing, not in line for torture.

With this as our backdrop, Peter starts with the right idea but he’s confused and he’s defiant. First he blurts out, “You are the Messiah”. And he’s right. But Jesus says, that the story starts there. It doesn’t end there. And so Jesus explains how being the savior is about to translate into everyday life. And it’s not what Peter wants for Jesus or for himself. If Jesus is going to be killed, surely Peter will be killed as well.

But Jesus doesn’t mean for his people to believe he’s about to be crowed the new Caesar. “Son of God” for Jesus means something very different. Instead, it means that he about to suffer and die. And then in what is perhaps the most arrogant move one could ever imagine, Peter the fisherman takes Jesus the Son of God aside and scolds him.

Now just think about that for a second. Peter takes Jesus aside to correct him (like a mom taking her disruptive kid out to the car for misbehaving in the supermarket). “No way will our great Messiah die.” As Mark writes this down, “Peter took Jesus aside to rebuke him”. In Konie Greek the word “rebuke” here that Mark uses is also the same word he uses to describe how Jesus speaks the Legion of evil within the possessed man.

The word is ἐπιτιμάω epitimaō (Ep-E-Tee-Ma-O) and it means, to tax with great fault, to berate, chide, reprove, censure severely or to admonish or charge sharply. Jesus, Ep-E-Tee-Ma-O’ed the evil spirits to cast them out. It’s the same thing here. In the Wycliffe Bible it says, Peter took him aside “to blame Jesus”. More recently Eugene Peterson’s Message renders this, “Peter grabbed Jesus in protest”. This is no small feet. This is a serious talking-to Peter is giving the same person he has just declared to be God’s one and only.

But we can’t be too hard of Peter. He’s brash that’s just his nature. And he’s shocked! But at the heart of his anger is confusion and sorrow. Peter had just made his greatest proclamation. He has identified Jesus as the Messiah. He just went out on a limb and said something very dangerous that could get him killed (by the Romans or by his own people). And now Jesus, his leader and his best friend tells him that he is the Messiah. But that he’s also nearing a time of suffering and defeat. Peter is in disbelief. He doesn’t want his friend to die. And he does what we all do. Peter tells God that his own plans are better than God’s plan!

Peter is us. Peter’s mind is on the here and now. He’s thinking only of what he will loose, not about what he will gain or what God intends for his people.

In response to Peters chastising we get this very strange comment from Jesus. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Peter and Jesus are having a fight! This is no small disagreement.

Jesus looks at Peter and calls him (Sat-un-oss), Satan a word that literally means “adversary” or “enemy”. In this instance Peter is so out of line, he is label with a word used to describe the personification of evil. And though we like to picture Jesus as being somehow permanently calm and unflinchingly humble, in this instance he’s not what we expect either. And he shouldn’t be. Peter’s place, like mine, like yours, is not up in Jesus’ face. Our place is behind him, following in Jesus’ footsteps, not out front trying to lead the charge.

The Messiah that Jesus was prepared to be, was not the Messiah Peter was expecting and Peter didn’t have a clue how that was going to work.

Now, we’ve all been in that position. I guarantee it. We all (myself included) have this image of who Jesus is and we tend to think of him in terms of that alone. When he appears to be something outside the little box we’ve made for him we tend to get more than a little uncomfortable.

How does this thing work?

We ignore certain things that he’s said, or try and explain them away. In short we try to make our Savoir look just like us, think just like us, agree with us, instead of trying to do what we’re supposed to do and make ourselves look like Him, our acts look like His, our thoughts follow His!

How many of us have had the same experience, where at some point during our faith journey, we didn’t meet the Messiah we expected and so whether we realized it or not… we changed Him to make Him fit us?

Perhaps you’ve heard this story: Two young brothers came downstairs for breakfast on a Saturday morning to find their mother cooking pancakes. As she’s starting to pull them off the griddle the boys start arguing about whose going get the biggest one. Their mother seizes this teachable moment and says, “Now boys, what would Jesus say if he were here?” They stopped, looked a little confused, and then their mother continued, “Jesus would say, “My brother, you take the biggest pancake.” The older brother being more adult then the younger looked at his wonderful little brother and very wisely said, “You be Jesus today Jack, I really want the big one.”

Winston Churchill, once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Being like Jesus isn’t easy. Following him can be hard. And while he heals the broken heated and bandages up their wounds, he also calls us to take up a cross and follow Him up that hill.

Billy Graham put it this way. He said, “Salvation is free, but discipleship costs everything we have” [–Edythe Draper, Drapers Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992)].

Like the mother making pancakes, Jesus too used this occasion as a teachable moment. Mark writes, “34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

“Salvation is free, but discipleship costs everything we have”. Graham takes this line from the great German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who paid the personal cost of discipleship in execution at age 39 on April 9, 1945. Bonhoeffer had bravely resisted Hitler and the Nazi State when most of Germany’s clergy supported the Third Reich. In 1943 he (a Christian minister) was part of a very controversial group that tried twice but failed to assassinate Hitler.

The word “fuehrer” in German literally means “leader or guide.” Standing up as Christ’s disciple on a radio broadcast all throughout Berlin, Bonhoeffer had bravely rebuked the entire German Church for having allied itself with the Nazi party. Bonhoeffer spoke into the microphone bravely broadcasting his every word saying, “There can only be one Fuehrer for Christians, and it isn’t Adolf Hitler.”

Whatever we might think about everything Bonhoeffer did in order to try and live out his calling as a discipleship in difficult times, what is of no doubt is that discipleship didn’t mean an easy road for Bonhoeffer. He took up this cross to follow Jesus despite what the rest of the world said. His cross was struggle and eventually death. [–Ron Walters, General Manger KFAX Am 1100 in “Pastor’s Letter,” August 15, 2002; http://www.kfax.com/pastorsletter.asp?ID=24]

But he was a disciple.

If you were to sit inside the cockpit of an airplane just before liftoff, you would hear the pilot call out V1 which means “point of no return”. As the airplane accelerates towards the end of the runway, the pilot must decide if the plane is moving fast enough for a safe takeoff. This speed must be determined preflight based on several factors including the air pressure, temperature, speed of the wind, and weight of the craft. The pilot holds the throttle as the plane approaches the carefully calculated V1 speed so that the takeoff can be aborted at a moments notice, just in case something goes wrong. However… after the pilot calls out “V1”, the plane must take off. It is going to fast to stop and remain on the runway. It must keep going. There is no other choice.

As Christians, we also have a V1 moment. We have a commitment we make to Christ. Once we have [placed our faith in Christ alone, proclaimed him Lord and called ourselves disciples, we have reached the point of no return. We need to adjust our sights, apply throttle and take off. (1001 Illustrations #79) There is no backtracking.

If Peter wants to be Jesus’ disciple then he needs to know where this might all go.

Today when we read this line it was pretty easy to just skim over it. We really don’t often consider the weight of what’s being said.

I once heard a lady say that not having enough money to buy a new car for another year was her “cross to bear.”

Well, to be fair… Maybe… but that’s not how Jesus used that phrase.

When Jesus said to his first disciples that they should be prepaid to take up their cross and follow him, he meant a real cross. He meant, IF you follow me – you may just share in my death too.

In North American society today this is not a real concern for us the way it was for them. But when Jesus said, “35 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37” he meant it literally. He meant – if you keep following me, you are not going to win any popularity contests.

The disciples would not have let those words go by lightly. They would have stood there with their jaws dropped down into the dirt. Jesus didn’t fit in their box. They wanted all the benefits and none of the risk. But that’s not how this thing works!

Jesus says, you have to be willing to give it all up, to be last, to give the pancake to your brother and take the lesser path.

Native hunters in the jungles of India are reported to have a clever and simple way of trapping monkeys. They slice a coconut in two, hollow it out, and in one half of the shell cut a hole just big enough for a monkey’s hand to pass through. Then they place an orange or other fruit in the other coconut half before fastening together the two halves of the shell. Finally, they secure the coconut to a tree with a rope, retreat into the jungle, and wait.

Sooner or later, an unsuspecting monkey swings by, smells the delicious orange, and discovers its location inside the coconut. The monkey then slips his hand through the small hole, grasps the orange, and tries to pull it through the hole. Of course, the orange won’t come out; it’s too big for the hole. To no avail the persistent monkey continues to pull and pull. While the monkey struggles with the orange, the hunters simply stroll in and throw a net over him. As long as the monkey keeps his fist wrapped around that orange, the monkey is trapped. It doesn’t know it, but it is.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Peter and the other disciples thought they knew who the Messiah was. They had him placed in a nice neat little box and they didn’t like him proving them wrong. When he climbed out of their cage or stepped over the lines of their parameters, they didn’t know what to do. They had no idea how this thing worked.

Jesus didn’t fit into their boxes (or ours?) and he needed everyone to know it.

The trouble was and still is for us, that, it wasn’t the Jesus they wanted that they needed to follow, it was the real Jesus that they needed.

Jesus continues, “38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

There are penalties for not taking up your cross. More to the point, when we take up our crosses, not only are we being faithful but we are also making the world a better place for others.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ requires that we live a sacrificial life following in the steps of our Lord. Now to be clear – This does not mean that a disciple seeks to suffer; but it does mean that we should not be surprised when it comes. After all, Jesus in John 16:33 says: “In this world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Discipleship is worth it.

Many years ago “General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was asked the secret of his amazing Christian life. Booth answered, ‘I told the Lord that He could have all that there is of William Booth” [–James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1988), 98.].

That’s taking up a cross. That’s how this thing works.

Better said in Calvin Miller’s The Taste of Joy who said, “There is no automatic joy. Christ is not a happiness capsule; He is the way to the Father. But the way to the Father is not a carnival ride in which we sit and do nothing while we are whisked through various spiritual sensations” [–Calvin Miller in The Taste of Joy. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 17].

The cost of discipleship can at times be high.

Eventually Peter did take up his cross. And it was about as true a test as one could ever have.

oday, it’s unlikely that taking up our cross to follow Him means that we, like him, will be executed by our government. But the idea that following Christ isn’t always easy still remains. That is how this thing works.

May we all come to know Jesus, not as we want him to be, but rather just as he is.

May we understand the cross and how it works in our lives for both salvation and in discipleship.

May we proclaim him the Savior and give our lives fully over to him.

May we pass the point of no return without fear, knowing that ultimately our victory has already been won.

May we find ways to bear the very real crosses we have to bear.

And when we bow to Him and see His way… may we get behind Him (our leader), no matter what it might mean.

That’s discipleship.

That’s how this thing works.

Amen

Musical Offering: Man of sorrows (210)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully since the beginning of the pandemic and we are committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission. For those in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelopes with you, simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service today.

Prayer of gratitude

The Lord our God often gives us so many wonderful things that makes our life worth living. He gives us the gift of family and friends, the gift of love and laughter. As humble servants, we should show gratitude and give something back to the Father.

Transition Music: Be still and know that I am God

Prayer for others and ourselves

Lord God: we thank you now for all that you have given us. For the changing beauty of the world; the beauties of cloud and sunshine, night and day. We thank you for the talents and powers you have given to your people; and for all the use to which these talents have been put. We thank you for showing us your love for all people; for teaching us to love each other; and for all the love that we give and receive each day. Most of all we thank you for Jesus; for his life of love; for his teaching and example; for his death on the cross; and for the new life we receive through his resurrection.

We bring to you now in prayer our concerns for others. We pray for those who are ill. We ask that you minister to the sick through our concern for them and through doctors and nurses who add their healing skills. We pray for those in our church whose family circle has been divided by death. Comfort them in their grief and grant them the peace and hope they need at this time.

Finally, we pray that the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ may be known and accepted by increasing numbers of people. Draw to yourself all seekers after truth and goodness; may they find the unlimited riches which can be found in you alone. We pray these things through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Song: We are marching (639)

Sending out with God’s blessing

Go out into the world in peace, and in Christ’s name be –
the humble who make others proud
the poor who have riches to share
the weak who help others be strong
the empty who overflow with loving kindness.
And the largess of the love of God,
and the treasure of the grace of Christ Jesus,
and the buoyant health of the Holy Spirit
will be with you now and forever. Amen.

Response: Go forth into the world

Music postlude

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Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specified licenses with One Licence and CLC.

Musical offering: The power of the cross
Keith Getty | Stuart Townend © 2005 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com. Used with permission under CCLI, License #3095377.

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2022) on all original material presented by him. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material presented that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.