Striving for Deeper Holiness: October 17, 2021

PASTOR’S WEEKLY SPIRITUAL MESSAGE

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Friends, blessings from Saint Clement. We are still in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark. As you remember from last week, a young wealthy man came to Jesus asking him how to follow him, and when Jesus told him that in order to inherit eternal life, he would have just give what he has away and depend on God and depend on the community, he couldn't do it. He was too attached to the stuff he had. And then, Jesus goes on to Jerusalem, and the disciples are afraid because Jesus tells them about his death and all the things that will happen to him. And out of that comes the gospel today that two of Jesus's disciples, James and John, are arguing about who will be the most important in the kingdom of God, how to make sure that they are at the right hand of Jesus in heaven. They want to be next to Jesus. They want a great prize for following Jesus.

That takes us to the question of this week. What is our award for following Jesus? Why do we follow Jesus? There are many attitudes. None of them are bad, but some probably are better than others. Some people follow Jesus just in case: just in case there is a heaven, just in case there is a God, just in case there is a form of punishment for not living a good life. So, just in case, they do the minimum and they follow Jesus. If you find yourself in that group, I just encourage you to make a next step, whatever that next step is, not to operate out of fear or a "just in case" attitude, but out of the attitude of discovery. And there are people who follow Jesus because everybody else in their family does, so they just go along. They do what everybody does. That's not a bad thing, but Jesus wants to be in a personal relationship with you. He wants you to know how much you are loved by him. How do you in your life unpack the gift of that love of Jesus with others?

Over the last few weeks, we started Alpha here at Saint Clement. It has been such a privileged moment for me to watch how Jesus works in the lives of the people that are part of my group. I just see in those conversations how actively the Holy Spirit calls people deeper into conversation, into understanding, into discussion. What a great privilege it is for me to watch firsthand how the Holy Spirit is at work right now in the 21st century in our community here at Saint Clement in our school building every Wednesday night when we host Alpha.

And then the third attitude could be because we love Jesus. We are madly in love with our God and therefore out of love, we follow him. Why wouldn't we follow him? Following him is the best thing that can happen to our lives. Following Jesus means that we will encounter the fullness of life through Jesus as Jesus says in John 10:10: "I came so you might have life and you might have it to the fullness." Jesus wants us to have the fullness of life and trying to find it outside of him will only set us up for failure. Jesus wants us to have a fulfilled life and he says he is the gate to it. I invite you, friends, this fall season to ask yourself, what is the next step that Jesus, that our community here at Saint Clement, invites you to make.

There are so many ways in which you can grow in your faith and your discipleship, and we do so much here at Saint Clement. And one of the ministries I want to, one more time, bring to your attention to is the Love Your Neighbor ministry. In that ministry, not only do we serve one another, we deliver meals for those who are sick or those who need just a little bit of extra help. We also pray for one another. We accompany them in the time of a death of their loved ones. I invite you to visit our website, clement.org. Look up the Love Your Neighbor ministry and just make this next step, whatever that is, in moving from just following what everybody does to find this unique, beautiful, and life-giving relationship that Jesus has in store especially for you here at Saint Clement. God bless you!