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Let Me Walk With Thee

Mark 6:1-6

The Rev. Jon Roberts

5 July


Good Shepherd Episcopal

Venice, FL

1 He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[a] at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.


Jesus carries a soldier, by Jeremy Sams, 2024

O master let me walk with thee,
In lowly paths of service…free.

Today we follow the aftermath of a day in which we celebrated our independence. We celebrated the lives of those who sacrificed themselves in the face of war. It was a day in which we celebrated the spirit of patriotism. The day focused on devotion and love for one’s country, but what do we know of patriotism and our pledge of allegiance?

For us our pledge of devotion is sung regarding two countries. To one we sing “O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain” (H80 #719). To the other, “Joyful, joyful we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love” (H80 #376). Our patriotism, therefore, is one that comes from the heart, where there is a pure affection, for two countries.

Often, we discover there is a war waged for us to love others. To remain indivisible, can be painfully difficult. War does not necessarily have to be fought on foreign soil. It can happen close to home. Division among neighbors, family and friends, is our greatest threat. For it was once said, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.”
Just this past April, in Englewood; Englewood, Colorado, over fifty men were gathered in a company garage. They were fatigued, worn down with the onslaught of the financial downturn suffered by so many around the world. The company they worked for was a franchised cleaning company; carpets, upholstery, air ducts, that sort of thing. With reduced hours and salaries, they were barely holding on. One man got up to speak. His name was Darrell; Darrell Scott. He shared with this group of men that in times like this they must resist turning on one another, competing for survival of the fittest. They must be on guard for the cunning disguise of greed. They must avoid the insatiable desire to be overly anxious. They must exercise kindness and compassion instead.

Darrell had usually taken this message to schools, but now he finds it can be used in the workplace as well. It was not his message, he said, but it belonged to his daughter, Rachel. “Life is too short”, and “Love one another”, is what those men heard and took home that day. They joined the two countries of heaven and earth for a moment. The thought of Rachel put things back in perspective. Rachel, you see, was only seventeen years old, a patriot who was devoted to share pure affection for her classmates, no matter what. Most sadly, she was the first to be killed ten years prior in a little place just down the road called Columbine. She was driven into battle that day, so close to home, taking with her only the tools of love and peace. She knew not that they would have no honor for that day in which she sacrificed her life.

The famous Baptist preacher of the 1800’s, Charles Spurgeon, once wrote, “To be a patriot, one must also be a prophet of peace. If a man is driven into battle, he is no patriot; but he who marches into the fray with flashing eyes and beaming face singing, ‘It is sweet to die for one’s country’, proves himself to be sincere in his patriotism”. As Christians, cheerfulness is the support of our strength and pure affection from God alone, is our source. C.S. Lewis wrote it is such affection that is responsible for nine tenths of all solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.

Whenever we are met by evil in this world it is never sufficient to withhold our love for another. If we were to believe in that, maybe we would think it is permissible for God to withhold his love from us? His grace, his love for us is never withheld, no matter how bad an act we have committed. Our words can be like bullets. Our actions may be like shrapnel, but the love of God intends to heal and guard us from peril. He meets us in the lowly states of our service. Each conversation filled with anxiety, fear and anger become the hill he wishes us to charge in our defense. It is God’s devotion to love us, that calls us to be a patriot and overcome our fallen nature. Sometimes we should let Jesus carry us so that we can learn to walk again. To follow Him, we need to learn to march between the two countries of heaven and earth. We simply need to learn how to take a walk with Jesus.

O Master let me walk with thee,
In lowly paths of service free.
Tell me thy secret, Help me bear,
The strain of toil, the fret of care.

[1] Mark 6:1-6
[2] Kirk Johnson, “A Columbine Victim’s Spirit of Hope Grows”, The New York Times, April 17th, 2009.
[3] Charles Spurgeon, “Serve the Lord with Gladness” (sermon), 1834-1892.
[4] C.S. Lewis, 1898-1963.
[5] “O Master, let me walk with thee”, 1980 Hymnal, #659

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