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Luke 9:51-62, The Challenge of Following (Ash Wednesday)

Ash Wednesday "Urgently Encourages Us"

These words of Jesus’ sound harsh and unforgiving. Did he really intend for a grieving man not to bury his father before he left? And did he expect another to drop everything, not even taking the time to say goodbyes? Maybe Jesus was unaware of the human need to tie up loose ends and to prepare for major change. Or maybe this was Jesus’ way of expressing that they were all about to embark on something even bigger than themselves. Perhaps he was telling them that working toward bringing about the kingdom of God was even more urgent than their other needs.

Ash Wednesday—Getting Us Out of Our Comfort Zone

It is not hard to believe that God’s work sometimes calls us at the most inconvenient times. But sometimes that is also what makes God’s work mysterious and fantastic. When God breaks into our routines, calls us out of our comfort zones, and asks us to do things we don’t want to do, those are often the most profound experiences of our lives. In the end, we realize that the inconvenience was overshadowed by the overwhelming reality of God making God’s presence known in those uncomfortable moments.

Narrative Lectionary Text:

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Connection to Worship:

Clergy Stuff's Narrative Lectionary Resources for 2017-18 Ash Wednesday deal with this subject differently.