All children of God

Marsha Landrith (right) and St. James membersOn Sunday, March 4, Marsha Landrith, Presbyterian participant in the Commission on the Status of Women, preached at St. James Presbyterian Church in Harlem.

The sermon focused on Mark 8:28-38. Jesus and his disciples are on a journey on foot that will eventually land them in Jerusalem for what we know as Palm Sunday.

Marsha notes that, “From the beginning of his earthly ministry, almost everything Jesus said or did came to his disciples and the world around him as a complete surprise.” This encounter proves no different.

In our reading from Mark this morning, just as the disciples are beginning to realize Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, he tells them he will undergo great suffering, be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be killed, and after three days rise again. That’s not what the disciples were planning on. They were planning on a revolution, the overthrow of Roman rule in Judea, and a new government in which they would be rulers. They weren’t looking to become martyrs.

Peter of course, has something more to say. Jesus then rebukes Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” As Marsha observes:

This is not one of those passages that leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling … I worked hard at trying to come to peace with this reading from Mark. I underline my favorite passages in my Bible, the ones that bring me comfort and reassurance. This is not one of thent to be m I wacomfortable in my Christian life. Yet I know it is the scripture that makes me uncomfortable that also makes me grow in my faith.

That faith reminds teaches us that “We are all the Children of God.”

So how do we go about being the Children of God and Jesus’ followers today? When is it we are the church? We are the church when we do what Jesus commanded us to do. We are the church when we love God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are the church when we honor the commandments Jesus gave us, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, love your neighbor as yourself, love one another even as I love you. We are the church when we honor the great commission, which is to go into the world, baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth. We are the church when we honor the sacraments Jesus gave us, baptism and communion. We are the church when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and prisoners, help the poor. We are the church when we stand up for justice for all people, when we love our neighbor, when we forgive others and ask for forgiveness in return. When we do all this in the name of Christ, then we are the church, the living body of Christ on earth and as such are children of the living god, sons and daughters of the living God and are heirs of eternal life in the kingdom.

Read the whole sermon.

Thanks to St. James Presbyterian Church for inviting Marsha to preach. Thanks to Marsha for sharing her sermon.

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