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13 Pentecost - Luke 14:25-33

You may have noticed that we have video walls.

We’re still working out bugs in the system, like getting the pastor to use them.

Had it occurred to me sooner, we could have started this Anniversary Sunday sermon

with a music video.

But for this year, you’ll have to settle for me reading lyrics, which is still better than me

singing them.

You’re welcome.

And the words are so good that maybe it’s better to let them shine on their own,

and probably it’s better for those of you who are married to fill in the images with

your own faces and memories in your mind.

Clint Black sings:

It gives me heart remembering how We started with a simple vow There's so much to look back on now Still it feels brand-new We're on a road that has no end And each day we begin again Love's not just something that we're in It's something that we do

I remember well the day we wed I can see that picture in my head Love isn't just those words we said It's something that we do

There's no request too big or small We give ourselves, we give our all Love isn't someplace that we fall It's something that we do

Something that Jesus does, constantly, especially in Luke’s gospel, is flip things over.

He would say this week that hate isn’t something that we feel or someplace that we fall; it’s something that we do.

Hate is not so much an emotion as a decision; it’s not so much a reaction as a calculated

rejection, a no said in service to a different yes.

He is not calling us to hate our family in the 21st century America sense of the word;

there’s plenty of that happening already.

He is calling us to be clear with ourselves and our family that they are not God.

For his disciples, therefore, family is not first priority.

Neither is survival.

Neither is stuff.

Neither is self.

Neither is anything else that we are tempted to put first, even our beloved spouse, who teaches us who God is because they teach us how to love fully and deeply—but they are not God.

The closer something is to God, of course, the stronger the temptation to idolize it.

The better the blessing, the more dangerous it can be.

Remember who is speaking.

This is the teacher who was driven by God’s Spirit out into the wilderness for forty days of solitude and Satan.

There he wrestled with three blessings twisted into temptations.

One: A loaf of bread, which after 40 days of starving might mean survival.

Two: the car keys to the world, which could accomplish so much good in addition to

giving him anything and everything he could want to possess.

Three: the protection of angels, certain confirmation of his identity as God’s son.

Survival, stuff, self, including a secure family identity: Jesus said no to it all,

refusing to let it muddy his yes to the real God.

Now he surveys the crowds who think they want to follow him, who are dazzled by his

powers to heal the sick and to humble the high and mighty, and he shoots straight

with them.

I’m headed to the cross, so following me will cost you everything you hold dear.

Can you afford to pay the bill?

Spoiler alert: this Tuesday night’s Bible study about Stephen will include a look at how

Stephen died.

It looks a lot like how Jesus died—same story, different details.

That is Luke’s artful way of presenting him as a disciple, one who follows Jesus,

speaking truth so boldly and so baldly that it proves fatal, including the jaw-dropping final truth which is the forgiveness of those who are killing him.

The word forgive, of course, literally means let go.

Unless you are able to let go completely, you cannot be Jesus’ disciple.

Is it worth it?

That is why Jesus encourages his hearers to first sit down and estimate the cost.

Pastors call this premarital counseling.

Can you afford to get married?

Not just the ridiculously expensive ceremony, though that is an issue.

Can you let go of your parents’ expectations and the freedom of being single?

Can you let go of all the others you are promising to forsake?

Can you let go of your needs to keep score and to be right?

Can you let go of grudges and offenses and the pain of your partner’s thoughtless

behavior and choices?

Can you let go of the operating assumption that the world revolves around you, or would

it be better to stay far away and send a delegation asking for peace?

Is love worth it?

The calculus of marriage is, in miniature, the arithmetic of life.

A lot of people peel off between today’s crowds and tomorrow’s cross.

We celebrate enduring marriage because it is a miracle.

We worship Jesus because that is safer than following him, but also because he finishes

a tower and wins a war that we cannot complete alone.

We need God’s help, as pretty much any of our married couples will tell you.

And God keeps saying and singing and showing to us: I love you, so you can

keep loving others, as daunting and draining and expensive and impossible as that is in day to day life.

God has taken up the cross.

God has let go of everthing to hold onto us.

So Love is forever something that we’re in, and something that we do.

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