Select Page

Second Sunday in Lent Mark 8:31-38

The Academy Awards comes next Sunday

Up for recognition

are two notable movies

that capture the history of

Britain during the early years

of World War II

Dunkirk and the Darkest Hour

two movies that are worth the time and effort

if you haven’t seen them I would encourage

you to seek them out….

the movies over lap

in their record of what was happening to England

as Europe fell to Hitler’s troops

the British troops were pushed to the edge

of France, the beeches of Dunkirk

while at the same time

Hitler was offering a peace treaty to

The British Government

no doubt lives would be saved

death avoided had the British accepted the terms


At a significant point

near the end of the Churchill movie

Winston is pictured as being torn

distraught by the options that

stood before him….

in the midst of his thought and confusion

he somehow ends up down

in the metro tunnels of London

captured for a moment on the train

the citizens who occupy the car

with him are initially intimidated

by the presence of the Prime Minister

in their midst

Gary Oldman who plays Churchill

has become fully the man

cigar between his teeth

He plays the part

As the other passengers relax

they begin to talk

Churchill lays out the choices

should we negotiate a peace

with whatever terms that would require

or should we stand and fight

knowing what will rain down on us

if we don’t give in….

there is a pause

to a person

from the oldest to the

young girl sitting beside her mother

there is a universal rejection

of the terms of peace

we cannot see the Swastika

flying over Westminster Abby

we cannot have our king

fleeing to Canada

this scene probably did not actually occur

But, the spirit of that encounter

clearly came to Winston Churchill

he was able to persuade his government

to say no to the Nazi’s

no to a false peace

no to anti Semitism

no to domination

by Adolf Hitler

and his troops…..

Churchill goes on national radio

to announce to the British nation

that they would not surrender

that he could only offer

Blood, sweat and tears

in the days that would follow

the bombs would rain down on their city

lives would be lost, buildings destroyed

but the spirit of those Island people

would survive

even as he spoke

British citizens were

sailing their own boats of all sizes

to the shores of France

to bring home the troops

those who had look hopelessly trapped

safely return to their homeland

available to fight another day

Both movies are powerful dramas

dark, ominous, at times hopeless

but in the end in both instances

as the movie faded people in the audience

stand together and clap

in celebration of the spirit

we had witnessed.

There is nothing quite like

a national crisis to draw us all together

certainly when we witnessed the destruction

of the twin towers of 9/11

we were pulled joined closely

barriers that might divide us
were for a while reduced

the world rallied around us

we prayed together

for the future….

perhaps not unlike the pictures of the shooting

pictures from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Carmine’s sermon from last week

the pictures of the children

the teachers , the coaches

those killed

those who survived

never to return to the naiveté of safety

that childhood, school should provide

Our collective empathy has been extended

those were our children

our neighbors, teachers, friends……

It is the feeling that is presented

in today’s Gospel lesson

Jesus has been in the beginning stages of

his ministry

Last week we heard of the Baptism by John

the time in the wilderness

the beginning of ministry

speaking with authority

healing the sick

bringing compassion to suffering people

recruiting disciples

Jesus is perceived as someone different

he is not the usual synagogue teacher

he speaks and heals with authority

he appears to be the possible

Messiah that had long been

the hope of the people

who now follow Jesus….

They expected a powerful force

that would restore the Israelite nation

would put Jerusalem and the Temple

back on top

it was the historic expectation

of the scriptures

the promise that God would restore his


Jesus does not deny

his authority

he clearly understands his role

but for him Messiah ship

will manifest in a different outcome

when John The Baptist asks from prison

are you the one or should we wait for another

Jesus’ answer is clear

tell John what you see

the blind have their eyes opened
the lame walk, those with skin disease
are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up
the poor have the good news proclaimed to them

Jesus defines Messiah as a force

not for restoring the Temple

but for compassion

not for separation

but for openness to others

not for law but for Grace

This seeming simply force for love

for healing and restoration

Becomes a radical confrontation

with the religious reality of Jesus’ time….

Today’s Gospel brings the other part of the story…

“the Son of Man must undergo great suffering

will be rejected by the elders,

the chief priest, the Scribes

he will be killed and after three days rise again…..

It is not hard to understand why Peter

would not want to hear those words….

was not looking for this kind of Messiah

Like Churchill’s promise of “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”

Jesus is saying it’s going to be dangerous

before it becomes clear

following me is not going to be without cost!

I am not sure that it is any different

for us to hear it today as it was for Peter 2,000 years ago

Jesus says become my follower

take up your own cross

risk your own life, don’t try to save it

Who are we called to be

are we taking the easy track

are we looking for some external force

a Messiah who will step up to save us

or can we hear Jesus calling us to account

to look deep within

who are we created to become

what does it mean for us to

live out a Gospel of

love and compassion

of healing and forgiveness

an invitation to inclusion

to a life style of hospitality

Jesus could see this Good News

as leading to Jerusalem

he was preparing those who were with him

for difficult days ahead

give up the safety of your life

for the sake of the Gospel

As we come today to our annual congregational meeting

perhaps Jesus is calling each of us to consider

what does it mean for me

to become a ‘doer of the word

Today Jesus says to us

Those who want to save their lives will lose them

Those who lose their lives for my sake

and the sake of the Gospel

will save them. Amen

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen


Posted on

February 27, 2018

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *