Sunday, March 29, 2009

Welcome to My World

Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 29, 2009
Mark 10:32-45

There’s a whole world right at your fingertips in the internet. You can know what’s going on almost anywhere in the world and about almost any subject. Added to this is a whole area on the internet where you can tell the world what you want it to know. Millions of people do this with their own blog. A blog is an online journal. You can write on things that are of interest to you, whether it’s knitting, philosophy, cars, birds, sports, your family, or about life in general. When you have your own blog there doesn’t have to be collaboration. It’s your blog, you can say what you want. Others don’t decide what you put on your blog.

If you write a book an editor will come along and make changes. If you make a movie you have to work with all kinds of people who have a say in the final production. At work we often have to collaborate with others on projects. But if you have a blog you get to decide what will go out to the world. A way some people emphasize this point when they start a blog is by introducing it with these words: “Welcome to my world.”

That’s what Jesus does in the Gospel reading for today. When He tells the disciples what will happen to Him He is saying, “Welcome to My world.” Actually, it’s not just His world He’s welcoming them to, it’s His religion. In telling them what will happen to Him, He is saying, “Welcome to My religion.”

There’s a lot of people who think nothing more of that than all the blogs out there—they’ll just go to a different one. That’s nice, Jesus, but I think I’ll just try another religion. I’ll even just do my own. You see it all the time. People will say, My religion is a mix of different religions and philosophies.

That’s what James and John were saying. Not to be left out in the cold, it’s what the other apostles were saying. They all were starting their own religion. They could have started their own blogs. “Welcome to my world” was really “Welcome to my religion.” That’s, really, what we all do. We take God, the Bible, Christianity, and we craft our own religion that suits just us. Then in the way we live and talk, we are saying, Welcome to my world; Welcome to my religion. If it’s not for you, you can start your own blog and do your own thing.

Jesus straight off says, Welcome to My world; Welcome to My religion. It’s a religion in which it’s about Me going to the cross. In which I will drink the cup of the wrath of God. In which I will be baptized with the sin of the world. This is My world. This is My religion. Welcome to it.

James and John have better ideas. Hey, that sounds great, Jesus, but we’d like some glory to go along with that suffering and death and resurrection. If it’s all going to work out for You in the end, we’d like to get in on the action. The other apostles have the same ideas, they just weren’t as quick to the punch as James and John. All twelve of them said to Jesus, That’s a nice world You’ve invited us to, there Jesus. But we have some ideas of our own—welcome to our world.

You see, we don’t we really need Your suffering, and being mocked, and dying, and rising from the grave. We’d like some glory, please. Will you take care of that for us? There’s a good God. Yes, welcome to our world. It’s all about us. Not really about You, Jesus. But you do have a nice blog, and we’ll check it out from time to time.

I don’t know about you, but I often treat the Bible the way I do some of the blogs I read. I only read a few, but I find that even with a few, I can’t keep up with them. I end up checking in to them once in a while. Since they’re just blogs, that’s not a big deal, but I find my Bible reading has a similar pattern. It’s not a blog, of course—it is God’s Words written down; Him saying, Welcome to My world; Welcome to My religion. But too often, I say, That’s nice; and treat it as I would a blog. I will check out what You have to say, of course, now and then.

But the way I live, I’m really saying, Welcome to MY world. Even, Welcome to my religion. How could the apostles take what Jesus was saying, which was all about Him, and turn it around to wanting it to be all about them? It’s because that’s who we are. We are by nature sinful. We’re in our own little world. And each of us wants to go around inviting others to our blog—welcome to MY world! You don’t have to stick around, but you’re welcome to.

But mostly, we’re not interested in making the case to others, but to God. We want to tell Him where it’s at. God, You’ve got a lot of good stuff on that blog of yours, but have you checked out mine? If you can get on board with my religion things will work out just great for me. As long as you don’t impose on me having to actually read and study Your Word on a daily and consistent basis; as long as I don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of sharing the Gospel with my non-Christian friends; as long as I can continue to keep telling white lies in order to keep the peace with my spouse; God, as long as you do as I say then You will be a great boon to my religion.

How about if, instead, we listen to Christ? We actually take His invitation and enter into His world? How about if, instead of just checking out His blog once in a while, we actually get into the Word of God and read, mark, learn, study, and inwardly digest it? How about if, when we come to those places in His Holy Word that are tough to come to terms with, we step back and listen? Take what we hear from Him and enter into the world He has welcomed us into. Take to heart His religion rather than the fantasy world we create for ourselves. Be in His world on His terms rather than ours.

What if we hear the Word of our Lord and, instead of thinking about how we can get in on the glory, we simply rest in what our Lord has given us? Simply rest in the peace that goes beyond our limited understanding. Be grateful for the eternal salvation He has brought about in His suffering, death, and resurrection. Flood our hearts and minds with thoughts not of glory or what we want but of the forgiveness He has washed us with in our Baptism. Rejoice in the lavish Feast of His Body and Blood He has prepared for us and the invitation “Welcome to My world.” Welcome to My Feast. Come to Me and receive Me; My Body and My Blood. My forgiveness and eternal salvation. Peace for all your woes, strength for all your trials.

Salvation from yourself and your world of sin that the devil, the world, and your sinful flesh keeps welcoming you into. Our sinful flesh is all too eager to rejoice in the invitation to be brought into a world that revolves around ourselves. It abhors the world Jesus invites us into, which is the world of His cross; a world of suffering and resurrection. That’s why He headed toward Jerusalem—to go the cross. That was His world. He went to the cross for the sin of the world.

When Jesus was on the cross, God was saying to the world: “Welcome to MY world.” This is how you get into heaven. This is how you obtain true and eternal glory. This is how you get what you really need. If you look to that one who was beaten and hanging on the cross, you will see God’s world; His religion; how He welcomes you into it. When you daily arise and recall that you are a Baptized child of God, you will see what the world of God is like—one in which He welcomes sinners and eats them. You will see that His world is the world of grace, inviting you into it, dining with you at His Table.

When your last hour comes, you may be at peace and rejoice, because the words of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to you when you enter into heaven will be, “Welcome to My world.” As you await that day, rejoice in the opportunity you have everyday to bring this Good News of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection to others, welcoming them not into your world, but His. Amen.


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