When the going gets tough …

This Week at St. Stephen’s … for October 16, 2011

Over the next few weeks, as the Gospel story unfolds in our Sunday readings, we will witness a growing tension between Jesus and his detractors; between the power of the Kingdom which he preached and the earthly powers exercised by the religious authorities of his day. It is a tension that proved fatal for Jesus, though it also became the catalyst for the birth of the church.

It is said that the role of the preacher is to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. This is one of those instances. As much as we need to hear that the peace of Christ dwells within us, there is also that faint reminder that Jesus came not to bring peace, but a sword! Following Jesus does indeed bring us “home” to a sense of peace on our hearts. But it also creates a tension between the Gospel values we espouse and the realities we often encounter in our world, realities of cruelty and greed.

Being Christians involves taking up our own cross and following the one who ushers in the Realm of God. This means we are both comforted—that God cares for us as a parent for its child—and also afflicted—that we too must take this message, with our words and in our lives, into a world that so badly needs to hear it. This is precisely the reason we gather for worship: to receive fresh strength for the difficult role of being God’s People in the world.

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