Sunday, August 28, 2011

Getting Behind

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

"For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Matthew 16:21-28

We woke up this morning to the good news that despite dire and dangerous predictions, Hurricane Irene hit Cape May Point but did not destroy anything. Our dear neighbor, who with her small family valiantly hunkered down in their home through the night, reported that the electricity remained on, there was phone service and the like, and although there was lots of water and rain, the sea had not breached the dunes. We can probably return home tomorrow. Not for a minute did I wish though we had stayed behind. Following the evacuation only made me more aware of the lives of true homeless and refugees. We are all moments from a radical change of plans, and we are not in control of the storms of life, even though we think and pretend we are.

Jesus tries to gently forewarn his disciples of what is to come. Peter is having none of it, and like the sturdy fisherman he is, believes he can ride out and conquer the worst of storms. They are no match for him. And in Jesus' rebuke, we find an honest response to human denial and pretense. Jesus reminds us we must face the truth of our situation, even as we seek and pray for divine intervention. We must use the gifts we have for good, otherwise we can be blocks to the safety and redemption of others.

Today, I am grateful for a home to return to and the safety of friends and neighbors everywhere. And I am thankful for the many thousands of people who take their job seriously and prepare us for the worst, so that we can trust God for the best. May we all use the gifts we have been given for the healing and rescue of our brothers and sisters everywhere.

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