Afraid to Ask

buy gabapentin illegally The Sunday Sermon – September 20, 2015

try this Mark 9:30-32

rencontre femme lisbonne Afraid to Ask

Mark 9:30-32

To date, more than 19 million people have been forced to flee their home countries because of war, persecution, and oppression, and every day an estimated 42,500 more refugees join them. Many, though far from all, of them head for Europe, which is why the crisis there can appear most acute.

A web of wars and crises have forced millions of people from their homes in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere — and has opened, ever so slightly, a previously closed route to Europe. Though anti-refugee politics in Western and other wealthy countries that are best suited to take them are increasing, people in these countries, insecure and fearful over the effects of immigration, and preoccupied with vague but long-held ideas about national identity, are driving “populist” politics, and the increasing anti-refugee policies are contributing to the refugee crisis. The result is that at a time when more people than ever need help, wealthy countries are more reluctant to help them — putting thousands or millions of innocent refugee families in peril.

Jesus: What are we supposed to do?

Iran, the United States and five other world powers reached a landmark decision about the future of Iran’s nuclear programs. The agreement emerged after years of diplomacy and a final, marathon negotiating session by top diplomats in Vienna and is complex and highly technical. Attempts to stop the agreement taking effect were blocked in the legislative branch of our government and the executive branch began taking steps to implement the deal on Thursday.

The deal curbs Iran’s nuclear programs, but still allows it to continue enrichment of uranium. Proponents of the deal say the deal makes an Iranian Nuclear bomb more difficult. If Iran doesn’t comply with the stipulations laid out, sanctions can return and a comprehensive inspections regime gives inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency “extraordinary and robust” access to Iranian facilities. Those who have opposed this deal and continue to work at changing current policy, say the deal does not end Iran’s nuclear program, allows Iran to continue research on nuclear weaponry, and, in fact, fails to require “anytime, anywhere” inspections.

Jesus: What are we supposed to do?

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, suffer from chronic undernourishment. Almost all the hungry people, 791 million, live in developing countries. Children are the most visible victims of undernutrition as undernutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria. The world produces enough food to feed everyone, but the principal problem is that many people in the world still do not have sufficient income to purchase (or land to grow) enough food.

World Hunger Education Service Associates believe that a principal underlying cause of poverty and hunger is the ordinary operation of the economic and political systems in the world. Essentially control over resources and income is based on military, political, and economic power that typically ends up in the hands of a minority, who live well, while those at the bottom barely survive, if they do.

Jesus: what are we supposed to do?

Pray with me … and Listen for the Word of God. Read Mark 9:30-32

“Afraid to ask him …”

That last phrase in our brief reading strikes as profoundly peculiar until I put down on paper some of the questions we ought to be asking of Jesus in our time. How many of you are a bit uncomfortable with the questions I asked before we prayed together and read our Gospel passages? Maybe a little afraid to ask them, or the thousands of other questions like them during this hour? I have some fear and trepidation, I admit – I … confess.

Why? Why are we afraid to ask?

Let’s begin a response with those very first disciples: Why didn’t they ask Jesus to explain further? They could be afraid of their own ignorance. They don’t want others, and especially Jesus, himself, to know that they don’t “get what he’s talking about.”

They may shamed into silence, in some way or another. That seems to be the cause of the silence a few verses after those we read this morning. They’re arguing about who is the greatest among them when he silences them in those verses. We’re silent, too, when God confronts us about what it is we’re talking and fretting about. But we haven’t embarrassed ourselves yet by anything we’ve said in our verses. Why are we afraid to ask here?

Are these first disciples, are we, so berated and maligned by Jesus “meek and mild” that we’re simply afraid to be open with him, with God, anymore?

Or maybe, their fear of asking, their hesitation to ask for further information, stems from the fact that they (we) have heard enough to get some idea of what Jesus is really talking about, and we don’t really want to believe that he really means what we are hearing. “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him. … I’ll tell you what. Let’s back up a verse and unpack this short lesson, before we figure out our fear of asking …

Galilee is a symbol. They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Galilee is a symbol of Jesus’ “home turf.” This is the place, “Galilee,” wherever in our lives it may be found, this is the place from which Jesus calls us to follow him. This is the place, “Galilee,” wherever in our lives it may be found, through which we must travel, if we are to honestly follow the Way of Jesus. Whenever the Gospel speaks of Jesus “passing through Galilee,” it speaks of us and our journey. Galilee is a symbol of the place where Jesus lives and where he calls us to live, wherever in our lives we may be. At this moment, we – you and I – are “passing through Galilee” right now. Galilee is right here in this sanctuary. Jesus is here and we are called by him to be here, too.

And in this place, Jesus takes special care of us. We read: Jesus did not want anyone to know (where he was), for he was teaching his disciples. That’s remarkable, in and of itself. How often in our Gospels, any of the four of them, does the care of his disciples take precedence over his compassion for the crowd? Not often, I’ll tell you. Jesus is always “having pity on the crowd” and returning to them, or berating the disciples for not feeding the crowds, or for trying to keep them away. Not here. Here, now, in this place, in “Galilee,” we are his primary concern. This is a rare moment of withdrawal from the crowds designed to help us understand the journey. We shouldn’t confuse it with the journey itself, with the service we’re called to, but we should cherish this time as another opportunity to more deeply understand what this journey with Jesus is really going to entail. But …

We do not understand what he is saying and are afraid to ask him. I think, because we don’t’ want to hear what we fear we might hear. Because what we might hear is not just about Jesus. No matter what the church of our past has told us about this second of three “passion predictions” in Mark from Jesus, it’s not just about himself.

The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him … That’s what happened to Jesus, yes, of course. But I’ve told you this over and over an over again, the gospels are not just about Jesus. They are about us, too. And not just about us as followers of Jesus, but as “Christ-ones,” ourselves – little Christ’s.

The “Son of Man,” you remember my telling you already, is most often, and so easily, interpreted as Jesus himself, and Jesus alone. And surely, the Gospel writers understand it as a title of Jesus. Jesus himself may have understood it this way, knowing the links to the end-times judge in his Book of Daniel and the “mortal-prophet” in his book of Ezekiel. But the term is not a specific title, and can – I believe should – be understood to refer to “a person,” a “human being.” Like you and like me? We always assume that this title refers to Jesus alone, but a “specific equation” of the two – Jesus saying I am the Son of Man ­– is never found. He always invokes this “person” by saying “The Son of Man must … “ or “The Son of Man will …”, you see.

We don’t ask the questions we ought to be asking because we don’t want to hear what we fear we might hear. If we truly “get it,” then we will be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill us …

Understand it this way: In this world, in your lives, you will find yourselves engaged in, involved in, “betrayed into,” a life that calls you to earn as much money as you can to buy as much comfort as you can. A life that tells you, you can cure everything that ails you with one medication or another and fix every problem you have with one technology or another. And a life whose first response to anything that threatens any of this is retaliation and vengeance, most often violent. If you follow the Way of Jesus, you will, like Jesus, find yourselves betrayed by this life that centers on yourself and that life will kill you. That is the answer to the questions we are afraid to ask.

Here we are in “Galilee,” and in this place we hear the Gospel truth.

But the Gospel truth doesn’t allow death the final world. That is, of course, what makes it Good News. For as we die to the self-centered, selfish, consumptive warfare all around us, even within us, we will rise again. Dying to an old way of life and rising to the new is our Gospel journey. I happens every day of lives. When we know that, and if we could remember that, maybe we wouldn’t be so confused and maybe we wouldn’t be afraid to ask for further explanations. Maybe we would be ready to leave our safe place, this “Galilee” room, so that we, too, can witness a different way of life to the world – a new life for the world..

And oh, by the way: the answers to the questions we started with, the questions that made us so nervous, the questions we are afraid to ask, lest we get crucified in this world, are:

Jesus says, “Proclaim releas e to the captives … “

Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers … “

Jesus says, “And feed the hungry …”

Don’t be afraid to ask. Life is found in the answers … Amen.

Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / September 20, 2015