By Ken Asel
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 14:25-35
25 Now large crowds were travelling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
34 “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure heap; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
As more of us have vaccines in our arms and familiarity returns to church life after a long year of uncertainty, what will we re-discover to be the cost of discipleship?
Today’s reading from Luke presents a caution. Discipleship ahead may well be difficult, and outcomes remain in doubt at least for a time. Such uncertainty has been a part of the Church previously. Persecutions began in the first century, and already it was clear that following the path of Jesus required new values and behavior. Luke presents a choice for contemporary Christians. You cannot be a disciple unless you are willing to treasure Christ even more than your own family, the very same people we have held on to so tightly in the difficulties most recently experienced. Can we give up all but Christ, if that is the only course, and take on this new allegiance, along with any other allegiance he requires? Jesus is clear that the way forward with him will always be different from what has been our custom on our own.
What does that mean for us now? Churches may find it necessary to experiment with ways to reach out to the poor. Our resources may need to be spent in new ways, for new causes. A message of God’s love may well require new forms of ministry and special efforts unfamiliar to us. It may include people whom we in the past have ignored or left behind. Duty to Christ may mean letting go of previous tasks, even cherished ones. The audience Luke addresses knew in a very personal way what it means to carry the cost of bearing the cross of Christ. Perhaps by this time next year, we will know if we have learned the cost and joys of discipleship as well.
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest from the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie & he have been married 30 years and reside in the Texas Hill Country.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
Christ Church, Tyler, Texas
The Diocese of Caledonia (Anglican Church of Canada)