St. James Episcopal Church
The Gospel texts many of us have been hearing lately in our Sunday services have been challenging. Jesus has been seriously pushing the envelope about discipleship, including giving some "informed consent" on the potential cost of discipleship. "If you're going to follow me," Jesus says, "you'll need to let go of some things and be less attached to anything else than you are following me."Attachments. We all have them! One of the first things I think about is my "stuff." I have it. I'm attached to it! I find this out whenever I try to get rid of any if it. And that's just the material things. Then there's the inward "stuff" we're hanging on to. We all have things and people that we are attached to, and sometimes tangled up with. We have the connections that attach, and sometimes bind us in our personal relationships.
There are lots of other attachments. To our identity and status. To the need to keep things just the way they are, and do things "how they have always been done." To control, success, perfection, and pride. Attachments to old resentments, hurts and slights that we simply "cannot forgive." To looking the other way. Or simply to our pain and suffering.
We all have attachments. And each comes with a whole host of supporting practices and behaviors to keep them alive and functioning that take our focus, time and energy. Perhaps Jesus' message is about how every one of these attachments, and the ways we practice keeping them alive and well in our lives is standing in the way of our relationship with God, and is standing in the way of our discipleship. Because when we are attached to our own image or status or way or outcomes or truths or version of reality, when we are possessed by our need to be in control, we cannot be available for God's work. When we are focused more on the drama or our own life than we are the needs of others we are not really present in the way that our faith commitment demands. We cannot be disciples, which literally mean "learners or students" because we are not open at that time to what God might have to teach us.
In asking us to follow Him Jesus is inviting us to remove from our lives the things that stand between us and participating in the reality of God as He knew God. The Resurrection is the transformative event that made it possible for us to join with Jesus in becoming true disciples, co-creators in bringing about God's kingdom here on earth. And with Pentecost we have the Spirit as our Advocate to be constantly with us in this process to be strengthened and enabled to do this thing with God's help that we humans could never hope to do alone.