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Luke 12:49-56

I love weather. When I was a child, I wanted to be a meteorologist. Every aspect of weather fascinated me. Growing up in Omaha, NE for some of my formative childhood years – when it wasn’t possible to snow, the threat for a thunderstorm energized me. Then during winter, the opportunity for a huge snow storm would wake me up during the night of a snow event to continuously check the level of snow outside to see if school would be cancelled in the morning. I even became the unofficial early warning system for a family in our church that lived in a more rural area about 30 miles away. I love weather!

Weather is something that we all pay attention to at some level – whether out of the same fascination I had, or simply because it can dictate what outfit we wear for the day. We can easily tell when a storm is brewing, or what conditions are present in order to make a certain part of the day hazardous. In some regards, we are all meteorologists, and a lot of the time we seem to do a better job than those people we watch on TV. For those in the original Lukan context, the weather patterns, just like our weather patterns are relatively predictable. We know which way the wind blows.

Let’s face it – we sometimes can get caught up in tasks like weather watching that really aren’t all the important. We can spot a storm better than we can spot a spiritual hardening of our heart. In this, we neglect to acknowledge the state of our spiritual lives. We give priority to the seemingly more insignificant aspects of life whilst sending the more important matters to the sidelines. This is really what’s at the heart of the second portion of our Gospel reading for this week. Jesus’ words challenge us to consider the inconsistent priorities in our own hearts and lives. Do we give priority to the things that really matter, like spotting the Kingdom of God at hand in our midst and the peril that our world finds itself in? Or do we keep our eyes glued to the distractions on our iPhone? Jesus words are a call to a spiritual deepness, but more than that, a call to pursue Jesus in the present time (Kairos).

And now let’s go back to the beginning of our passage. The first portion of this week’s passage is one that causes much confusion when read at face value, and much hurt when taken out of context. To understand fully what Jesus was intending through saying these words, we must dig deeper to a level of understanding that goes beyond just being a forecaster of weather. Jesus used copious amounts of irony but also stark realism in this passage to paint a picture of what it means to choose to be a Kingdom citizen above any other form of citizenship available in our world. Jesus points three times to truths about his initial coming into the world through reminding us that he came, he has a baptism, and lastly, “I have come…” each of these pointing to the reality that even though the Kingdom of God is an actual pronouncement of reconciliation and peace, the choice of that Kingdom will naturally bring about division, even with those that you love the most! When you say yes to God, it means you are saying no to many other gods. When you say yes to God, you are saying no to a certain way of interacting with material possessions. When you are saying yes to God, there will be those whose modus operandi being an evil M.O. who will lash out against the peace of the Kingdom.

One look at the world around us shows us how much this way of life is true. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, etc., each show us that choosing the high road will often times cause despair, division, and difficult times. In 7th grade I was asked to burn down the school with some classmates. My refusal meant that I was later called to testify against those classmates who actually did attempt to burn down the school. Let’s just say that didn’t lead to a peaceful relationship with those friends, in fact it was a literal baptism of hatred born out of fire. Our congregations must know this week that choosing Jesus will at times lead to difficulty. The prosperity Gospel image of everything being wonderful once we have Jesus is honestly heresy. For Jesus, he literally went through a baptism of fire – a vivid death on the cross. We too will face our own baptisms of fire.

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