September 11, 2011: Letting Go & Leaving Behind

Posted on : Sep 8th, 2011 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

The way the Holy Spirit works in and through our lives never ceases to amaze me!  At the request of many members, months ago I planned our three week series on Spiritual Discernment.  People were asking me, “What is Spiritual Discernment?” and “How does it work?”  So after talking with some of the most gifted people I know who lead ministries of spiritual discernment, I distilled it down to three main points:

1.  Sensing God’s Call or Leading in our Lives – a process that often begins with an experience of “dislocation.”   Something doesn’t feel right.  I’m not content with where I am spiritually or personally.  Something’s out of sync.  That’s usually how it begins.

2.  The second dynamic is about “releasing:” Letting Go and Leaving Behind so we can embrace the new.

3.  The third dynamic is following where the Holy Spirit is leading you/us.

This Sunday we focus on the second dynamic:  “Letting Go and Leaving Behind so that we can Embrace The New.”

Months ago when I was planning this series, I had no idea this topic would fall on the exact day of the ten year commemoration of our National Tragedy of “9-11.”  How timely!

It doesn’t seem possible that a full decade has passed since the horrific events of that day.  As the media replays the sights and sounds of that day, it still gives me chills!  I remember the worship service we had on Sept. 16th, the first Sunday after the tragedy.   Thousands of miles away from NY, PA and DC, many in our congregation had family or close friends who were personally involved either as passengers on the airplanes that were hijacked or as workers in one of the three cities that were directly impacted.   It was a stunning blow to all of us.

I also remember at the time being one of the very few voices that kept saying that revenge and retaliation is not the way we are going to solve this problem.  War is not the path to peace.  Never has been and never will be.  Every war has only led to another war.  As the technological machinery and capabilities of warfare have advanced, so has the number of deaths and serious injuries.  What a price we’ve paid for the longest war in our nation’s history!  The loss of life, the astounding number of seriously wounded and disabled vets, the loss of faith and trust in our country both from those outside and those within, and the astronomical economic cost of the “wars against terror” are unimaginable.  But as horrible as they are, I have a sure feeling they are still not yet enough to get us to change our minds and ways about war.

There is a great line from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” in which Tevye, the quintessential Jewish father raises his own concern about the need to break with tradition and “go a different way.”  He’s asked a question about “tradition” by a Villager and Tevye responds,

Tradition says:  “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth!”

Very good. That way the whole world will be blind and toothless.

Well said.

There comes a time in our lives when we have to “let go and leave behind” old destructive ways, so that we can embrace “the new.”  The one “visual” that clarified that for me was a piece I saw on the news this morning.  They interviewed a man whose father was killed in the attacks of 9-11.  At the time he was ten years old.  They had film footage of this young boy crying at the funeral service they held for his father.  Today this ten year old boy is now a man, and the father of a one year old child.

Everyone I have seen interviewed or read about in the media who lost a loved one says basically the same thing: “You never forget.  But eventually you have to let go of what was and move on.”  That is a deeply spiritual reality.

This Sunday we’re going to look at that spiritual reality focusing on one of the strangest things Jesus ever says to anyone.  Jesus encounters a guy who can’t let go.  He’s constrained by a way of life that is leading nowhere.  Jesus offers him the opportunity of a life time, but the guy just can’t let go.   Jesus says to him, “My friend, leave the dead to bury their own dead.”  to bury their own dead.”  Taken literally they make no sense.  But taken spiritually, they sure do!

More on Sunday!



~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

Exodus 16: 1-8. 13-15

The people of God lose hope and wish they were back in Egypt as slaves.

From Elim they set out again, and the whole community of the Israelites reached the wilderness of Syn, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt.  (2 ½ months later).

They began to complain against Moses and Aaron there in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by God’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat next to pots of meat and ate our bread till we were filled! But now you have brought the whole community out into this wilderness to die of hunger!”

Then God said to Moses, “Look, I will rain down bread from heaven for you.” The people will go out and gather a day’s portion every day.  On the sixth day, when they prepare what they brought in, it will be twice as much as the daily gathering.”

So Moses and Aaron said to the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it is your God who brought you up out of Egypt, and in the morning you will witness the glory of God, the One to whom you directed your complaints – for who are we, that you should complain to us?”

Moses continued, “It is God who will give you meat in the evening for your meal, and all the bread you want in the morning, because God has heard your complaints.”

So it came about that in the evening quail flew in and all around the camp.  And in the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp; when the layer of dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were flakes of something delicate, powdery, fine as frost.

When they saw this, the people of Israel said to each other, “What is it?” – for they did not know what it was.  But Moses told them, “This is the bread God has given you to eat.”

Luke 9: 57-62

Jesus says, “Let the dead bury their dead.”

As Jesus and the disciples were making their way along, they met a fellow traveler who said to Jesus, “I’ll follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens, the birds of the sky have nests, but the Chosen One has nowhere to rest.”

To another traveler Jesus said, “Follow me.”

The traveler replied, “Let me bury my father first.”

Jesus said in return, “Let the dead bury their dead; you go and proclaim the reign of God everywhere.”

Yet another traveler approached Jesus in this way:  “I’ll be your follower, Teacher, but first let me say goodbye to my people at home.”

Jesus answered, “Whoever puts a hand to the plow but keeps looking back is unfit for the reign of God.”

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