Sermon - September 12, 2021 - St. Martin's In the Desert


Sermon – September 12, 2021

by The Reverend Lola

September 12, 2021
16 Sunday after Pentecost
Year B

First Reading: Proverbs 1:20-33
Canticle: A Song in Praise of Wisdom
(Wisdom 7:26-8:1)
Second Reading: James 3:1-12
Gospel: Mark 8:27-38


O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Surrender it All

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

What does this mean to us? Surrendering to God means letting go of our plans, and letting God have his way in every aspect of our lives. Allowing Him to guide our steps and direct our decisions. As Christians this means we surrender our will for His perfect will and follow God. I have worn a cross around my neck for as long as I can remember. I have crosses in almost every room of the house and when we had our motor home, we had a cross hanging in the bedroom. 

I personally find comfort in the cross, I like looking at it, I like praying with it around me because I feel the presence of Christ with me. The cross is a symbol of my Christian faith and recalling the Crucifixion of Jesus the Christ on the cross, for not just my sins, but for all our sins. It resembles salvation through Christ’s sacrifice; redemption; atonement; suffering; faith. 

Matthew 16:24-26. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

We see crosses everywhere, around people’s necks, hanging from the mirror in their car, tattoo’s on people, everywhere, people showing that they are committed to the Christian faith and they are not ashamed to let anyone know.

Take up your cross and follow me.

Some have lifted this verse out of an important part of the Gospel, it does not mean, what we often hear.  You have just had a tragedy in your life and you say, 

“I guess this is my cross to bear.” 

Jesus says to his disciples and Peter…No it can’t be!

Jesus has just told his disciples that he is on this road that leads him straight to suffering, betrayal, rejection, and death on the cross.  “But after three days rise again.”

Peter speaks up and says, after telling Jesus he is the Messiah! Peter takes him aside and began to rebuke him. Jesus turns it on Peter, Get behind me Satan! “For you are setting your mind “not” on divine things but on human things.”  

Poor Peter…he was the first to follow Jesus and this must have hurt…he loves Jesus so much…he just couldn’t bear it. He wants Jesus to be this great leader they have all been waiting for. 

Peter missed the part that…he will rise again in three days! The Resurrection! And he will be with everyone, who picks up their cross and follows him…forever and years to come.

In the verse Mark 8:35 “Whoever loses his life for My sake…will save it.”

You ask, how can I surrender my life? It is to surrender in the same way that salvation comes to the sinner. There are needs to be, that is the confession of sin and a complete yielding of every area of our lives, our personalities, and our wills to Jesus Christ. Giving it all the God.

A full surrender is to always be continued, it is not enough for us to be confirmed or to make a decision for Christ at an altar. We cannot walk successfully and grow without returning and renewing our vows and commitments with the Lord. We continue to go back and go back again renewing our faith and surrendering it all.

In the verse Mark 8:36 “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

The bible does not condemn money or having material possessions. Because money and possessions can be a great thing for many if used in the right way. God’s argument is not with the material things, but with material gods and idolizing them. Just like we wouldn’t want to idolize the cross, but wear it as a reminder. 

Getting back to the money, the problem, the Bible has is not with the money itself, but with our love of money: “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”.

1 Timothy 6:10 Don’t let money, or anything else, take God’s rightful place in your life.

When we give a cross to someone, a child, a family member, a friend… it is to mark that “you are a divine thing, this place in the house, it is a divine place, a Holy place and sacred place. You are saying God will be present with you, here with you and you have been marked as his own. When you come up for communion and you take the Holy Sacraments, you are in the presence of the divine.

Rev. Lola Culbreath