The Rev. Jon Roberts
Calvary Episcopal Church
Indian Rocks Beach, FL
25 Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, 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 begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. 33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Christ in the house of his parents by John Everett Millais, 1849
Lord, you have searched me out and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up.
You discern my thoughts from afar.
Soon, a creature, that is both great and small, will be celebrated. On Oct. 29th we celebrate our furry feline friends on what is known as National Cat Day. To appreciate them more, it is important to learn about their catty behaviors. They are, indeed, catty, but what is great about them? Maybe we can answer that from referring to an article in Reader’s Digest, titled, “[Thirteen] things you do that your cat actually hates.” In case you were wondering, here are some of those things:
Interacting with strangers
Being picked up
Having their tails grabbed
Being left alone
[Getting a bath]
Not enough litter in the box
Cat carriers and riding in cars.
They do seem to tolerate us though, and that is no small thing.
If the first creature is both great and small, there is another, that is surely wise and wonderful. On Sept. 8th we celebrate our aged mentors, on what is known as National Grandparents Day. To appreciate them more, it is important to learn about their snarky behaviors. They are, indeed, snarky but what is wise about them. Maybe we can answer that from referring to an article in the Huffington Post tells us more, titled, “[Eight] things you should never say to a grandparent.” In case you were wondering, here are some of those things you should never say:
“Your grandson is so wild.”
“Enjoy your grandkids now because they won’t want to be with you when they’re teens.”
“If you want to be in touch with your grandkids, learn how to use Facebook [or Instagram].”
“We’re taking our grandkids on vacation. Are you?”
“Do your kids know how much you spoil their kids?”
“Are you sure your grandkids want you at every soccer game and school play?”
They do seem to survive these statements, and that takes wisdom.
Things that cats can’t stand and things that Grandparents must tolerate, are wrapped up in feelings that relate to our scripture today. As sure as Cats hate to be left alone or Grandparents despise being used only for money, God surely anticipates the same reaction in us when He tells us to follow Him. The Son of God, Jesus, tells his disciples, “Unless you hate your mother and your father, your brother and your sister, you cannot follow me.” Imagine hating those who you love? Jesus is using a technique that makes them want to listen more. This gets their attention. Listen to his delivery, “You have heard it said, but I tell you this…” He is saying that the message you are getting is not in accordance with God’s wisdom. You are following the catty wisdom of leaders who are flawed. They are catty. They are snarky and they will protect their power by keeping everyone else in a constant expectation of what they never really want to arrive. Think about it. If, and when, the Messiah comes, in their eyes, there is no need for rulers. They taunt people to prepare for the Messiah, but in their eyes, deep down, they really do not want that person to arrive.
Jesus, who spans the entire scope of time and creation has seen this type of behavior before. He knows that when the day comes, he will die, then be raised, and then, his followers must go back and share this with their families. It will be incredible and unbelievable. He is predicting that mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and possibly grandparents will reject them. Who, in their family, sees a future in following a crucified man, who did a few miracles, with no credentials, no money, no power, and now claimed to have risen from the dead. Where is he? Their spite and their disbelief will make this verse come true. “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple.”
“We need something that is sound and proven, secure,” they will say. They will tell you this is wisdom. “Don’t be foolish.” Who would build a tower and not consider the cost to build it? Are people still building great towers, but are unfinished? Has Jesus not seen human efforts of such kind since humans were created? Does He not know us from our own beginning, before we were in the mother’s womb? He knows the stories of kings who send out spies to protect their kingdom. He knows the stories of brothers who killed brothers, like Cain and Abel. He knows of brothers who have stolen from one another as Jacob did to Esau. Are we not just another generation, another nation, that continues to act “catty?” What towers are we building today so we may spoil future generations? What a cost it is when they do not get completed by our grandkids. Jesus looks over all time and wants to search us. He wants to be part of your rising up and you’re sitting down. He lives within your frustration and sometimes may add to it, for you to move past it. He may rub your belly, to give comfort, when you only want him to act and make problems go away. He may allow you to be placed in a carrier, a prison, only for you to be transported to a place where you can share the Gospel more effectively with others. He may challenge you in your older age, reminding you that this next generation is important and don’t give up hope. Be surprised using new tools and be open to learning them if it helps you save the lives of others and set them on a strong, spiritual path.
There are a lot of things we don’t like. We may even hate. But God celebrates us when we have the courage to face life by discerning Him. Your greatness lies in being His follower and picking up the Cross. This is no small thing. He delights when his design lives into its purpose, when you see that you were made to carry Jesus everyone you go. This is wise and wonderful, no matter where you are; behaving like a cat, behaving like a grandparent, God sees you wherever you are. From your rising up, to your sitting down, He can discern you, from afar.
 Psalm 139:1
 Luke 14:25-33