When It Is Not Easy

By David Baumann

Reading from the Gospel of Luke, 12:49-56

49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53they will be divided:
father against son
   and son against father,
mother against daughter
   and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
   and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”


The Book of Common Prayer is 1,001 pages long. It contains liturgies for the Daily Office, the Eucharist, and special occasions; it has the Psalter, lectionaries, various prayers, and lots of instructional and historical material. But I believe that the most important line in the book is found on page 302 in the baptismal service: “Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?” Everything else in the Prayer Book, and truly everything else in life, revolves around that question and how one answers it.

And each of us must answer the question over and over and over again, day after day after day, and many times each day. Sometimes answering that question is a matter of ease, warmth, and delight; other times it is agonizing, supremely costly, and fearful. Peter had to answer the question when Jesus said, “Follow me,” “Who do you say that I am?”, and “Do you love me?” These occasions were the beginning, the middle, and the consummation of his time with Jesus on earth.

In all of today’s lessons, the same question is put: Do you trust God? Are you able and willing to see how faith in Jesus fulfills the divine commandment? If necessary, can you put discipleship ahead of even your closest and dearest relationships?

I have baptized numerous people who made such a difficult decision: a young man leaving a gang; an old man whose entire adult life had been committed to a cult; a Muslim and a Jehovah’s Witness; and others. We must recognize that we make the same decision many times each day. Will you follow Jesus in all things, at all times, when it is easy and especially when it is not?

David Baumann has been an Episcopal priest for 45 years, 39 of them in the Diocese of Los Angeles. He now serves as part-time priest in southern Illinois. He has published devotions, articles, and essays, as well as science fiction novels and short stories.

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