Lent 2 :: Imitatio Christi

[Note: I do not often write out my sermons, but I do use notes. From time to time people ask me for these, so I thought I’d share by putting them here on my blog!]

Scotland 2013 091

St. Andrew’s, Fort William, Scotland

"After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves." [F. Buechner, Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized, pg. 74]

Story of those--Abram and Sarai--who spent a lifetime asking themselves what it meant to be them.

Call from Ur of the Chaldees in Haran to go to an unknown place following this unknown God.

He and his family left




They even left their other gods

He and Sarai suffered many trials along the way: "They had ample opportunity to learn to trust God without knowing for sure how things will turn out."

Promise to be made into a multitude—that's what the name Abraham means: father of a multitude.

No son was forthcoming for a long time, not until both Abraham and Sarah were in their old age. So old that they both laughed when told that Sarah would give birth in a year.

And even when the promised son arrived, Abraham was called to yet another test in his fidelity to God.

We might say that the two of them came to orient their lives completely to the God of promises. What it meant to be them was intimately bound with their understanding of and faith in God. Everything they were about was in line with who God was.

"If there is a God," wrote Simone Weil — a secular Jew who converted to Christianity, "it is not an insignificant fact, but something that requires a radical rethinking of every little thing. Your knowledge of God can't be considered as one fact among many. You have to bring all the other facts into line with the fact of God."

Now we come to Peter and the disciples... 

Recount the scene:

Who do people say that I am?

Peter's acclamation: You are the Messiah

Then telling them about suffering, rejection, death, rising again

But this did not fit into the narrative that Peter and the others had for who they thought the Messiah was about. Their understanding of the Messiah was not in line with the reality of who the Messiah really was.

And Jesus calls him "Satan"

So perhaps, in addition to spending this Lent asking ourselves what it means to be Christian, we can also ask ourselves what it means to be Christ.

Jesus gives us a bit of an answer to that: What it means to be Christ has to do with taking up the cross of Christ. It means involving ourselves in the suffering of the world.

Countering the culture of death and violence in our world by working for peace and compassion in our day to day lives

Ending hunger and homelessness by striving to alleviate their root causes

Striving for equitable systems of justice and education and economics

Loving our neighbors, especially those we find it difficult to love

As Christians we are called to imitate Christ in all that we are and do. This is the imago Christi, the image of Christ. Peter, in responding to Jesus' announcement about the Son of Man being arrested and tried and beaten and killed--and raised on the third day—tries to get Jesus to imitate him in his false understanding about how the Son of Man, the Messiah, should be and what he should do. This is why Jesus calls him "Satan." For it is the prince of lies who tries to get us to buy into the things of this world and not the things of God. As people who follow Christ, it means aligning everything we say and do with the fact of who Jesus is.

Sounds like a good thing to do this Lent.

Thanks be to God! 

Link to RCL Lectionary for the Second Sunday in Lent, Year B

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