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Keep the Main Thing….

So, the jokes on me.  Last week’s sermon title was, “Keep the Main Thing….”  I wanted us to recognize that sometimes we allow buzz phrases to substitute for actual thought.  Being the first Sunday of Lent, we used a passage from I Peter 3 which moved from a discussion of suffering to a “good conscience” coming from a relationship with Jesus Christ.  The author was quite plain as he spoke of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection as the ultimate work of Jesus Christ.  The joke was on me.  During the season of Lent, we have to “keep the main thing the main thing.”  This buzz phrase perfectly sums up the season of Lent.  We take up Lenten discipline simply to remind ourselves of the “main thing.”

This Sunday, the second Sunday of Lent, we turn our attention to the gospel of Mark.  From the eighth chapter, sandwiched between Peter’s confession and the Transfiguration, which we dealt with two weeks ago, is Jesus’ first prediction of his passion.  It is the “main thing,” yet Peter rebukes Jesus.  Surely the Savior of the world can do better than death at the hands of a coalition of Roman and religious leaders?  Mark even puts a Greek word in Peter’s mouth that refers to silencing demons, perhaps indicating that Peter thought Jesus had momentarily lost his bearings.  Jesus, then rebuking Peter, invites him, and by extension, us, to turn our minds on heavenly things rather than earthly things.  Jesus does not indicate that it is possible to understand heavenly things, only that we need to be mindful of them.  Faith happens where understanding falters.

A stark dichotomy: earthly things; Jesus as Conqueror, who settles Rome’s hash and sets up a perfect monarchy.  Heavenly things; an anointed one (Messiah) who suffers and dies for the community to effect reconciliation with God.  Earthly things; Santa Jesus, who simply hands out golden tickets to heaven without regard for discipleship, declaring that he wants us to be “healthy, wealthy, and wise."  Heavenly things; Discipleship, self-denial, opening oneself to suffering if necessary, fealty to Jesus regardless of context.

This week, the joke continues to be on me.  We must continue to “keep the main thing the main thing,” especially during the Lenten Season.

Our excellent Lenten study continues at 9:00 a.m.  Then, we worship at 10:30.

See you Sunday,


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