The Gospel for Sunday, September 16, 2018
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The question of identity is a tough one. Throughout our lives people project onto us their idea of who they think we should be. This starts with being named by our parents. We may or may not accept that name or the nickname that might follow. The question of who we are and who we want to be is something that becomes a life-long quest.
For Jesus, being called a prophet would have been relatively easy and comfortable. His words were powerful and his actions—healings and the ability to feed five thousand people—miraculous. Everyone was impressed! However, actually being the Messiah--the Christ, the Anointed One--was very different and not at all easy. For this role he had to die a painful death on the cross. The disciples did not understand all of this as it was unfolding, but I suspect that later they did. That is why this “messianic secret” (“and he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him”) is part of Mark’s Gospel. Looking back on all of the interactions they had with Jesus, after his death and resurrection, they began to truly understand his identity as the Christ, our Savior. And with that, they began to understand their roles as evangelists, passing on the Good News.
Our 325th Anniversary celebration is next Sunday. How glorious it will be! Thank you for your wonderful support for this festive fundraiser to help repair and restore our Clerestory Windows. We are touched by the ads, donations and responses from people near and far, as well as everyone here who has already donated abundantly of their time, resources and energy. THANK YOU! This will be such a joyous event. Don’t miss out! Car-pooling from the church will be available. Also, please note that our 325th Anniversary Committee will be meeting in the Church Office at noon this Sunday, September 16th. Please join us if you can help out.
Please don’t forget our terrific Farmers’ and Flea Market on Thursdays through November 15. Buy terrific produce and gently used clothing and goods every Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. And it is not too late to make donations to our Thrift Store!
It is easy to like what Jesus said and the miracles he did. It is harder to accept him as Messiah, as the one who broke through the bonds of death and has given us the gift of eternal life. This is not the way people thought the Messiah should behave. A king, a warrior or a popular idol is much preferable--not someone who died on a cross like a common criminal. That is the mystery of our faith. This role model of self-sacrifice is at the core of being a Christian. It is not about showing off. It is all about listening to that still small voice and loving others as God loves us. We are to pass on that message of love and the miracle of Christ’s Resurrection.
See you Sunday!
In Christ and with love,
The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota
Saint John's Getty Square