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By the Rev'd Heather Liddell

Let us pray in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

"Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."

The Gospel is good news for the poor, and the Gospel is good news for those suffering and in need. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for outcasts and sinners.

The last will be first.

So with all this good news - with God showing up in the world and changing the rules - changing everything. Now that - through Jesus Christ - God's nature has been revealed and we have been freed from the shackles of sin - why aren't things better?

Now - if you're in Edmonton like I am - and you are in raptures these days over the beautiful fall weather we are having - this sermon might not ring through you like a bell. 

Suppose you are feeling like a winner. If you are coming in first -- that's great. 


Suffering isn't the goal - what we do when we are incandescently happy is just as important as what we do when inconsolably sad. 

So if you like the rich young man from our Gospel reading this morning who came to Jesus asking what he needed to do to gain eternal life. Confident in your abilities and successes and desiring a deep connection with God - 

That makes me happy. But, maybe take the next few minutes to check in with God in some private prayer about what kind of life Jesus is calling you to. How are you called to step into your Baptismal Covenant? How is God calling you to serve?

Because today I'm not talking to you,  I'm talking to your neighbour.

Hi. Welcome. I'm sorry that things are heavy. I'm sorry that so much in our world is wrong; sorrow, sickness, pain, estrangement, and the clash of a thousand conflicting narratives of identity, self, and truth. If being wherever you are doesn't feel like you're walking in a gilded, charmed, autumnal world - then this sermon is for you if you are struggling - if you are worried - if you are joining us with a heavy heart.

This sermon is for you because "Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first." 

So much of what the Gospel actively undermines and flips what we hold to be self-evidently true and how we understand what is good, worthy, and beautiful.

The lion will lay down with the lamb. 

Christ's body - the temple - was destroyed and, in three days, built again. 

Our God bends the rules. He calmed the seas in a storm and healed the sick, and raised the dead. Our God loved unlovable people. Those who had been taught by society over and over again that they should give up, that they had no life - no worth. Our God makes impossible things possible - and our God loves you just as you are, where you are. You are not alone. 

The world tells us that wealth and power and material security make us good - make us worthy. But, the Gospel of Mark tells us that the only thing that can make us good and worthy, excellent, and honourable is the very God who made not only us but the whole world - the universe - everything that is. 

After that brave young man - confident and accomplished asked Jesus how to get eternal life, Jesus tells him that he has done everything right. Jesus looks at the man, and he loves him. Then, Jesus looks right into the heart of that man's sins, and he says the thing between us - the thing that is keeping you from letting God do God's thing in your life - is your wealth - is your success. He tells that young man to sell everything he has and to follow Jesus. To spend time with Jesus - to prioritize his relationship with God. 

The young man walked away. The cost was too high. 

"Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."

Then Jesus turns to his disciples, to his friends, and He says: 

"How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"

And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

It is easier (Jesus said ) for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of God."

They were greatly astounded and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?"

Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible."

Immediately - the disciples pop in with self-congratulations.  

Who do you think it was? It was our namesake. The brilliant, the bold, the often just a little wrong Peter

Peter begins to say to Jesus, "Look, we have left everything and followed you.

But, Jesus interrupts him because Peter - without the wealth and consequence and fancy titles and shiny clothes of the rich young man was doing the exact same thing. He was claiming superiority, claiming to have an edge of being better than God's other children - to deserve more.

But, God's point - Jesus' point is that it doesn't matter who is first or brightest or best or wealthiest or best looking. What matters is if you recognize who God is and what God has done.

So - if you have come to us today feeling worthless - feeling like a failure, then this message is for you, and it is a simple one:

 Jesus looked at those gathered around Him and said, 

"For mortals, it is impossible, but not for God; for God, all things are possible."

It is going to be okay because God is with you. 

I'm not saying it will be easy; I am saying that you are not alone.


A Sermon for October 10, 2021: Projects
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