Gospel: Luke 9:51-62
51When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55But he turned and rebuked them. 56Then they went on to another village. 57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
It was day 4 of our trip to Disney World. My daughter had taken over the reigns as trip coordinator, which for many years was my wife's job. The trip itinerary was planned down to the minute of the attractions we would see, and when we would see them, where we would eat, when we would arrive and when we would leave each park.
My grandchildren, ages 4 and 2, were the reason we were there (at least, that is what we told them). Our hope was that they would enjoy the wonderful experiences of the happiest place on earth. That was the theory!
As I said, it was day 4 – there were many things to see in the Magic Kingdom that day, with rides, shows, and the fireworks at the end of the day. Late that morning, we found ourselves outside of the Beauty and The Beast show and store. A fountain in the middle of the square was a good resting place. I reached into my pocket to find some spare change, and gave each of the kids a coin to throw into the fountain. I said, “Make a wish, and throw it in!”
After accomplishing the feat, I asked my granddaughter what she wished for. She leaned to me and whispered, “I wish I were back in the pool at the hotel!”
That was NOT on the agenda!
In the Gospel lesson, Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem – the place where he will suffer and die. He has told his disciples the agenda. Nothing is going to stop Jesus from keeping to it.
And if others want to follow along, nothing should stand in their way either. Even valid requests. Like my granddaughter’s request to go to the pool – a valid request, yes? But not on the agenda.
We try to follow, and sometimes we succeed. But the reality is this – sometimes we stumble. We will fail. We will speak words of hatred and have bitter thoughts. We will focus on the past instead of following Jesus in to the future. And we are not alone. The disciples abandoned him and all fell away.
But God will still love us, and consistently remind us that God’s ways are better than our ways, and God’s thoughts better than our thoughts. And in the end, love will reign, God will win, and life will be ours. So why not sign up for the winning team now?
God is up to something great – tomorrow is in God’s hands, so let’s follow where God leads. Freed from the sin and separation, fear and uncertainty, may we be free to be what God created us to be – children of God who love and worship God, and who love and serve the creation God loves.
Let us pray: "O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."