Tuesday, February 14 – Janet Wild

This sermon was preached on Tuesday, February 14 by third-year Janet Wild. The texts for this sermon are: Genesis 6:5-8, 7:1-5, 10; Psalm 29; and Mark 8:14-21

I’d love to be up here today preaching a sermon on St. Valentine or Valentine’s Day. However, with the unsettling news and tales of suffering that surround us right now. I’m going to talk instead about love and faith in a confusing time. It’s challenging to be a Christian, to follow Jesus and live out our faith in the best of times, the worst of timesi. To continue on even when we are disheartened and overwhelmed. So we arrive once again at a time where we must ask ourselves, how can I be a good disciple? How can I continue on even when I don’t understand or know what the path ahead will be?
Cyril and Methodius trusted in their faith, became missionaries and fought to spread the
word of God in the common language of their people. These brothers gave up their life of
privilege to serve the Slavic people. In their time, the clergy believed the only true languages of the church were Greek, Hebrew and Latin. They challenged and thwarted the brother’s at every turn. The brothers were undeterred, and in order to move forward they traveled to Rome for the Pope’s approval, which they received and where they were also made Bishops. Cyril died before he could return home. Methodius returned to Moravia, continued to be harassed and was eventually imprisoned. Nonetheless, he was able to translate the bible and Byzantine ecclesiastical law into the Slavonic language, and to continue his missionary work. You have to know these two brothers didn’t always know where they were going. But ultimately they followed what they knew to be true in their hearts and continued on no matter what the circumstances. In our time, how are we responding in the midst of political unrest and confusion? Do we know what is in our heart?
In today’s gospel from Mark, I imagine Jesus, rolling his eyes at the apparent cluelessness of the disciples. They didn’t know how to be good disciple’s either. Here they are worrying about bread and Jesus had just fed thousands, twice! He had calmed the water. He had walked on it! And here they were again, doubting and worrying and missing the bigger  symbolism, the connection that Jesus was offering them. Jesus wanted them to learn and then in turn be able to teach others. Imagine Jesus here right now. Would he be rolling his eyes at our lack of trust or would he be like a parent telling us the same story one more time?
I recently saw a movie called “The Visitor,” in which a college professor, Walter, comes home to find a couple, Tarek from Syria, and his girlfriend from Senegal, both illegal
immigrants, living there. Walter understands they have been tricked into thinking they had rented his apartment and lets them stay, in a very short time their lives become intertwined- Tarek teaching him to play drums, expanding his world farther by introducing him to a drumming circle, living, eating and laughing together. When suddenly Tarek is arrested and ultimately deported. Walter’s life is irrevocable changed and he can’t un-see his expanded world. He does the only thing he can think of to honor his friend, as illogical as it might seem, he goes down into the subway to play drums as he knows it’s something Tarek always dreamed of doing. After the last few days of immigration raids, I find myself thinking about this movie and wondering how I will respond as people in my life face the same uncertainty. What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ in this situation?
As we move forward in our own time, these are the questions that we must answer – the
ones that we must find in our own hearts. We live as part of the Jesus movement, even when we’re not completely sure where we are going or how we will get there. We can reach out like the brother’s Cyril and Methodius did, building our communities based on a shared experience and language. We can learn, as they did how to hold to our values and strengths while still growing, changing and moving forward. In action, this means coming together as partners in community organizing, marching not only to raise money for valuable causes but also to gather in numbers that create impact and give us the feeling of solidarity with our neighbors.
Participating, leading, and connecting in this way is being a good disciple. We will learn to see the world around us with clear eyes. We’ll learn from the disciples, who didn’t understand or trust in the miracles and teachings of Jesus in their time. They were caught up in the details of the day to day and completely missed the bigger story. Are we doing
this in our current overwhelm?
We need to wake up and pay attention to the world around us. Our heads are down and
we’re just plowing forward. We don’t see what’s going on with our neighbors, what’s happening all around us. We keep our world small in the hope of avoiding pain and suffering. In turn we loose connection, love and community. Jesus taught us that this is what we need.
As good disciples we will strive to see the love and miracles around us at all times. Like the character, Walter, we will step out of our safe and unconscious paths through the world in order to connect, learn and give back in the only ways that make sense. We’ll follow what we know in our heart to be true – and this will be our Jesus Movement.
And Jesus, like the unconditionally loving parent, will continue to tell us the story so we
in turn, might be grounded, heartened and continue on.


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