Sermons

JulieKellySermon for 12th Pentecost

Sermon for Mt Olive Lutheran
By Julie Kelly, Former Vicar of Mt. Olive Lutheran -
 

Who do you say that I am?
Who do you say that I am?
Who do you say that I am?

Who told you that? Did you perceive it for yourself? Or were you told that by someone else? Can we rely upon what we are told?

Do you remember the game “telephone?” The one where you whisper in someone’s ear and they then whisper the same to the next person and so on? What happens at the end? A skewed and often highly inaccurate message that sounds nothing like the original. And the goal of the game is to show how often we get the message wrong as it is passed along. It is proven by a challenge at the end of the line when the message is held to the challenge by being spoken aloud- to be tested by all who participated.

We are in a time the way we were brought up and our social norms are being challenged- and rightly so. If anything is of value, it is worthy of a test every so often. For a very long time we have not had to discern for ourselves, just trusting what we are told. But I think the time has come again, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, for us to step forward and declare what we know for our individual selves.

Martin Luther questioned the foundations of his faith and beloved church. Questions that needed to be asked because he loved the church so much that he believed it worthy of honesty and hard questions. He believed it worthy of digging deep and revealing ugly parts that needed to change and he spent time in fervent prayer and careful consideration of the scriptures before he did so.

And today we stand half a millennium later, on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Great Reformation and we are in the same place.
We are in the place that Peter and the disciples stood too- the one where we are not asked what and who someone else says or believes to be true- but what we ourselves believe and know to be true.

quote martinLutherquestionsIt is time to question the messages that tell us that some people are more or less valuable than we are because of the language they speak, the color of their skin, the place they were born , their gender, religion, or their tax bracket. And it is time for us to question the messages we have been raised to just accept, to do as the Canaanite woman from last week did and speak and challenge not only our leaders of our community, but even our faith. If it is of value, it will stand the test. s. And it is time for us to look back, as Isaiah 51 speaks of, to look at the very essence and purpose of our humanity and find the commonality that is unchanging. To look back to our far distant ancestors of Abraham and Sarah, to our savior himself then perceive for our own self who our Lord is and what our faith calls us to in the world as an individual. Only then will our beloved church find her direction again. Only then will we be identified, as Peter was, a rock upon which Christ’s Gospel may be preached.

I don’t want you to go home and change your mind because I told you to, but because you thought and struggled for yourself, letting the Holy Spirit reveal God to you in a new and different way. We can’t wait to ask the questions any more folks. All the disciples were asked, “Who do you say that I am?” But only one stepped up took a chance, didn’t equivocate, and spoke. Peter became our example of what the church would be built upon- those who will speak for themselves and their own belief and faith in God.

This is critical because the rock upon which we stand is the one that that shatters the gates of Hell and retrieves the lost- offering hope, forgiveness and salvation. It is time to answer the uncertainty in our world and offers hope and certainty.

When we follow the lead as Martin Luther, asking the hard questions, challenging our faith and world systems, we will live out our Romans reading this week, and “not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is”. Then we will stand solid like Peter and Martin Luther, and know that when we answer, it will not be with a skewed message, but with strength and certainty to respond to our Savior’s question, Who do you say that I am?” by answering boldly, ’You are the Messiah the Son of the Living God “ and “On this truth I stand, I can do no other. Amen"

Julie Kelly
Former Vicar of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
Santa Monica, California
Aug 27, 2017


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