25Now large crowds were traveling with [Jesus;] and he turned and said to them, 26“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”
Some say there are two types of people. Well, I’ll tell you what. I bet that by just looking at you, I can tell what kind of person you are. Now, I know many of us know each other, and some better than others, but let’s give this a try.
going and standing in front of several (including “dog people”) point and say “cat people, cat people, cat people”.
Now of course, before some of you start to argue with me. My determination has nothing to do with your pets; it has nothing to do with even liking cats, or whether you have had or own a cat. I actually prefer dogs, but I have a cat. Or to put it more accurately from the feline cat perspective, I am allowed to to be my Dilly cat’s kitty chef, kitty sewage engineer, even occasionally Dilly’s kitty masseuse, in other words, I’m allowed to live with that cat.Did you how I said that? If you know anything at all about cats is that they have their own anthem, the song of their people is, “You don’t own me. — so don’t tell me what to do, and don’t tell me what to say, cuz you own me.”
And that’s why I actually think there’s only one kind of people, cat people. Because, history, time and time again, we’ve seen that like cats people don’t want to be owned. I know, I want to be able to do, and go, and think and say what we want. We are the captains of own ships, molders of our own identities, proud, free individuals, you know — cats.
But that’s not what we hear in our scriptures for today. That is not the good news according to Jesus. Oh, you might not have heard it, after all, we like to stick with our own definition of good news. You know that part about God calling us by name, knowing us inside and out, the God who will stick with us through thick and thin, even when we get over our heads in deep water. We progressive christians really like the idea of an intimate spiritual connection. And that’s certainly there, but so are words like “I have claimed you; you are mine.” Let that sink in a moment. Sit with that.
You know in ancient times, knowing someone’s name gave you some sort of power, control, claim over them. So when Moses is standing there before the burning bush, Moses asks God “who shall I say sent me”. Moses wants the name of this God sending him to face not only face down pharaoh, but also lead his friends, family, and people out of Egypt. God’s answer is YHWH — which isn’t a name at all but more like a phrase—“I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be”. You see, Moses wants some authority, some power, and God’s not gonna give it to him. The exodus isn’t really about liberation and freedom, it’s really about just switching masters—pharaoh king of Egypt to God the king of creation.
Now if you are anything like me, that doesn’t actually sit well with me. I don’t like the idea of that one bit. I want to be able to sing “You don’t own me”.
But the thing is . For God to be god, God better be more than just an idea—even a really really good one.
You know, Jesus doesn’t say, “Hey guys, i go this cool about God”. No he says follow me, and oh BTW – a lot of people, I mean an awful lot, are not gonna think this is a good idea at all, because following me is not going to be easy; it’s gonna cost you. No if you are gonna follow me, and well that’s what the church is—it’s the disciples/followers of Jesus, you are saying—ok God, you own me. I’m gonna love who you say I should (even though I really really don’t want to—you know my enemies).
Following Jesus, not just hearing God call us by name (you know kind of how cat’s do, they almost acknowledge your presences), following Jesus is actually listening and doing and that means giving up, oftentimes the ideas we have — ideas about ourselves and a lot of times ideas about God.
God, faith, church, whatever isn’t just a list of nice things, or even nice people, to do cool things with, like some of us were able to do—go on a sweet boat.
Being the church isn’t even about talking about God, for God to be God who is real, who isn’t just a metaphor, an idea, or an ideal—isn’t just a way to pick up some pointers to make our lives easier or smoother.
No if we are the church, we hear God call us by name, and we listen when God says, it’s gonna cost (and I’m not just talking money or time, but also life, and idea of life) and we really listen when God says you know some of those things you hold real dear to you — there’s a piece of wood, a tree, why don’t you use your pretty little people claws climb up that wood, and hang that stuff up there—there’s probably some nails lying around.
Now let me tell you, this is a sermon that’s harder for me to hear than for me to give. I like all my nice thoughts about God, all my nice God talk that fits my particular sensibilities, you know that fit into my peculiar feline brain, but if there’s something bigger or more than me out there—I’m gotta even give up my comfy God talk, my insistence that you don’t own me, and I’ve got to not only listen. We’ve got to listen when our name is called, and we’ve got to wrap our heads, our hearts, our lives, something other than our own ego scratching poles, because it’s not just about our name, God’s got our number—God’s got a claim on us. Amen.