Prayer: Lord, I hear your words and ask that you give me the strength to abide by them. As you have so willingly opened your arms to me, I pray that I remember to open my eyes to your daily presence so that I may lessen the divide between my Earthly responsibilities and spiritual ones. Amen.
Reading: Luke 12: 49-56 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Luke 51: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”
These words, spoken by Christ to his disciples, are unsettling for obvious reasons. We are eager to associate Christ with peace (thus he is often referred to as the Prince of Peace), but it is within these lines that Jesus reminds us that with any change comes great opposition within society, even within families. We see this divide in politics and human rights movements. There are times when we see it within the Church itself. We live in ignorance if we do not recognize this divide. We also live in ignorance if we do not recognize the moments in which we, the Lord’s followers, straddle this great divide in our daily lives.
Jesus, now addressing the crowd, points out that, although they are able to decipher the weather from a distant cloud, they fail to “interpret this present time”. In other words, he is asking these people how they can be so knowledgeable and consistently aware of daily concerns such as weather and yet fail to acknowledge the spirituality of their daily lives.
I live in an urban area outside of Philadelphia. I may not be checking the direction of the wind when I step outside, but I am checking my watch. I check my watch because I know what time the bus will arrive at my bus stop. I check my watch because I know when traffic gets heavy. These are things that I am knowledgeable of and very much aware of on a daily basis. It’s the person on the street corner, though – the one holding out a small cup and asking for a quarter – that I remain unaware of. I hurry on towards my destination, casting a quick glance from him back to the persistent weight that is my wrist watch.
The Christ within this passage is a distressed Christ. He is looking ahead, acknowledging the death that awaits him with the eagerness that afflicts any man that foresees a difficult task ahead of him. For this reason, the passage reads as a message of urgency; Christ is warning his disciples of the division that awaits because it is not only the familial and political division between those who choose to follow Christ and those who do not. It is the division that occurs between one’s daily responsibilities and spiritual responsibilities. If we choose to be followers of God, we must open our eyes to Christ’s presence and lessen this daily divide that separates our spiritual and Earthly lives. --Courtney Dunn
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