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13 Pentecost - Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28

I think I'm currently the only pastor in my family, but I'm not the best theologian.

That would be Caroline, my niece who turned three last week.

Some of you may remember her from her baptism at Shepherd last year on Easter Sunday.

She was the charming little curly-haired angel with the opera level lungs who screamed

bloody murder the whole time.

Her Mom said she was teething, but I think she was just paying attention.

Like Peter before her, she was having no part of Jesus' take up your cross nonsense.

She saw the water, that powerful biblical symbol of chaos and danger and death.

From flood to exodus to Jonah to Jesus in the storm to John of Patmos, the sea has been

the primal, swirling face of death—which is why it is used in baptism.

Initiates into Judaism and then Christianity had their identity drowned before being raised a new and different person.

Paul spelled it out for the Romans: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death...but Caroline wanted to live.

Can you blame her?

Yes, I omitted some of the Romans reading about being raised to walk in newness of life.

Yes, Jesus said, on the third day be raised.

Yes, there is a joyous end game, but you won't get there if you try to go too quickly.

There is no shortcut or detour to glory.

You cannot find yourself before you lose yourself.

You cannot save your life until you have lost it.

Caroline didn't like that, and neither did Peter, and neither do I – who does?

Franciscan priest Richard Rohr reflects:

To grow toward love, union, salvation, or enlightenment, we must be moved from Order to Disorder and then ultimately to Reorder.

We could point to the classic “Hero’s Journey” charted by Joseph Campbell; the Four Seasons or Four Directions of most Native religions; the epic accounts of exodus, exile, and Promised Land of the Jewish people, followed by the cross, death, and resurrection narrative of Christianity.