Project Description

13A 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a / Romans 6:3-4, 8-11 / Matthew 10:37-42

 

A woman was in a coma and lay dying.

 

She suddenly had a feeling that she

was taken up to heaven—

and was standing before

the judgment seat of God.

 

“Who are you?” a powerful yet

gentle Voice said to her.

 

“I’m Shirley Morgan,

the daughter of Bill and Susan Phillips,”

she replied.

 

“I didn’t ask you your name

or who your parents are,

I asked who you are.”

 

“Well, I’m the wife of the

mayor of Cumberland, Ky.,

Glenn Morgan.”

 

Again, the Voice shot back,

“I didn’t ask whose wife you are,

I asked who you are.”

 

“Well, I’m the mother of four wonderful children.”

 

The still gentle but exasperated Voice replied,

“I didn’t ask whose mother you are.”

 

“Well, I’m a very good grade school teacher,”

the equally exasperated woman shot back.

 

“I didn’t ask what your profession is either,

I asked, ‘Who are you?’”

 

It just didn’t matter how Shirley Morgan. . . .

 

the daughter of Bill and Susan Phillips—

the wife of the mayor of Cumberland—

the mother of 4 wonderful children—

and a dang good grade school teacher. . . .

described herself. . . .

 

it just wasn’t a satisfactory answer

to the Voice’s question of “Who are you?”

 

Then, she woke up from her coma.

 

And from then on—

for the rest of her life—

she was determined to find out

“who she was.”

 

And that made all the difference—

All the difference!!!

 

“Who am I?”

 

“Who are you?”

 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

the spiritual masters in all religious traditions—

including ours—

emphatically declare—

that the question we must

ask ourselves is. . .

“Who am I?”

 

If we get our true identity wrong—

things just won’t turn out like they were meant to be.

 

Have you ever experienced a family member—

or a friend who has Alzheimer’s disease

and they slowly begin to lose their identity

 

It’s such a tragic thing.

 

Well according to our spiritual masters

if we never really know we are—

or if we forget who we really are—

it’s just as tragic.

 

Ann especially in our tradition—

we must ask ourselves the question,

“Who am I?:

 

And then. . . .

discover the answer.

 

I think that’s the main message

in today’s Gospel.

 

You know,

my dad is a big Bible reader.

 

I was over at his house one day

while he was reading the Bible. . . .

 

and he looked up at me and said,

“Son, do you have to hate me to be a good Christian?”

 

It is a disconcerting reading isn’t it?

 

My dad was reading Luke’s version of today’s Gospel. . .

which is even more off-putting and graphic?

 

My dad was reading. . . .

 

“If any one comes to me without

hating his father and mother,

wife and children,

brothers and sisters,

and even his own life,

he cannot be my disciple.”

 

Luke’s version is probably closer to

what Jesus actually said. . . .

 

and Matthew was just trying to

smooth it over a little.

 

The Jews who Jesus was speaking to

in the first century must have first

thought he had gone mad.

 

They thought that a lot.

 

Perhaps the only thing Jesus could have said

more shocking than

if you are his disciple

you had to love him more than

mother and father and children. . . .

 

was that there was no God.

 

You see, even much more than in our culture

in the 1st century AD. . .

 

honoring one’s father and mother

was the highest social obligation.

 

Even more in their culture than ours

someone’s primary identity

was rooted in what family

you belonged to.

 

Well, here’s what we know.

 

When Jesus uses this type of hyperbolic

and shocking and graphic language. . . .

 

He’s trying to get people’s attention. . . .

 

He wants to shock. . . .

 

So they’ll listen. . . .

 

So we’ll listen.

 

He’s was trying to tell them. . . .

and is trying to tell us. . . .

something very, very important.

 

Jesus is talking about identity.

 

 

First, this Gospel is about Jesus’ identity.

 

Jesus is demanding that his followers

give more allegiance to him

than to their own parents. . . .

than their own children.

 

No one. . .

No one. . .

can demand that kind of allegiance . . .

 

no one. . .

other than God.

 

So with this Gospel Jesus is

revealing his divine identity.

 

What He is saying here

is no different than him saying,

“If you have seen me,

you have seen the Father.”

 

So this Gospel is about identity. . .

First Jesus’ identity. . .

 

And then ours.

 

According to Jesus. . .

 

Our core identity—

Our true selves—

must be rooted in Him.

 

Now this certainly doesn’t mean that

we shouldn’t have other loves—

great loves in our lives. . . .

 

Our parents and children and

families and friends

and hobbies and careers

and all sorts of things.

 

Having those is part of being fully human.

 

 

But what it does mean—

is that when our core identity is based in Jesus. . . .

 

then everything else in our lives—

all our other loves—

are put in the context of Christ. . . .

 

And that. . . .

that will make all the difference.

 

You see,

it’s not that all of our other

appropriate loves will be decreased. . .

 

no, they’ll be enhanced. . .

revitalized. . .

deepened. . . .

if our core identity is centered on Jesus.

 

In our companionship with Jesus. . . .

being guided by Jesus. . .

receiving the grace of Jesus. . .

loving and sacrificing for others like Jesus. . . .

that will make all the difference.

 

Think of the difference that will make in our families. . . .

In our relationships. . .

In our work places. . . .

In our schools. . . .

In our country. . . .

In our world.

 

Now more than ever—

now is the time

for us to discover who we are.

 

So, “Who am I?”

 

I was loved into being. . . .

I have existed in the loving mind

of God from all of eternity. . . .

 

I was created to be with God

in a personal and intimate way

both here on earth. . . and for all of eternity. . . .

made possible through the works of the Jesus,

the divine son of God.

 

I was born for a greatness I could have

never imagined on my own.

 

I was born with a mission . . .

 

A mission to conform my life to the life of Jesus. . . .

A mission to love like Jesus and

share Jesus and his love with everyone I can.

 

I fail many. . . many. . . many times . . . .

And left on my own

I will fail more and more. . .  .

 

but I am loved no less. . . .

I am forgiven.

 

And because of my closeness to Jesus. . . .

I am reminded of when and how I fall short. . . .

 

But I am not discouraged. . .

I am encouraged. . . .

 

because of the opportunity—

with God’s grace. . .

 

to grow more and more like Jesus and

please the One who created me out of love

and sustains me in love. . .

 

Well, that’s my answer to the question of “Who am I?”

 

I hope the Voice will be pleased.

 

“Who are you?”

 

Holy Spirit 06/27-28/2020