Follow Me – a reflection for Trinity 2 June 26 2022

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:51-62

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As the end of the academic year approaches, so the invitations to various events at the schools in the parish start flooding in. There are speech days and prize givings, leavers’ services, sports days, concerts, plays and parties. The invitations understandably all say RSVP. The schools need to know how many people might attend, how many seats, glasses, canapés and programmes might be required. I need to check and re-check my diary. Am I free to attend? Am I required to give a speech or to preach a sermon? Do I need to write an order of service or lead the prayers? What is the dress code? Can I simply turn up?

The invitation to shape our lives following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ also comes with a RSVP. Yet this is an invitation that is not issued at a particular time of year and for a particular occasion. This is an invitation to a life-long relationship with God in Jesus Christ. It begins with our baptism which is not a one-off event but, we pray, the start of an adventure with God. The invitation is an open invitation to all people. There is no dress code or requirement to do anything other than turn to Christ and intentionally allow our lives to be shaped by his teaching and values.

‘Follow me,’ says Jesus. In today’s gospel we see all sorts of reasons why it’s not convenient to do so just at the moment: ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father…..first let me say farewell to those at my home.’

We’re all good at prevarication and actually these are very good excuses, reasons even, to put off following Jesus just at this time. But in the same way that Jesus persists in our gospel reading, Jesus persists in our lives too. It’s probably never going to be a convenient moment to have our lives transformed, turned upside down, by the power of the Gospel. There are always other demands on our time and talents. But the call: ‘Follow me!’ is clear. The way in which we respond wholeheartedly, in trust and in faith, is a life task. The way in which we invite others to join in with what God is already doing, is a key question too.

Bishop Michael Perham wrote the following prayer: ‘God of mercy, Lord of life….give us all the wisdom and grace to use aright the time that is left to us here on earth, to turn to Christ and follow in his steps in the way that leads to everlasting life.’ May it be so.

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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