Year B Proper 19 Mark 8 2012
Why Must We Carry a Cross?
Mark 8: You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, "On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk--you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice--you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, “What a country!"
Smirnoff is joking but we make these assumptions about Christian Transformation—that people change instantly at salvation. Some traditions call it repentance and renewal. Some call it Sanctification of the believer. Whatever you call it most traditions expect some quick fix to sin. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. We go to church as if we are going to the grocery store: Powdered Christian. Just add water and disciples are born not made.
Unfortunately, there is no such powder and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations...
One of the most popular shows from last season is returning this fall with ads asking potential audiences, “What would you do if your weren’t ‘handicapped’ by sight?”
“The Voice” is a talent show that keeps the judges in the dark, so to speak. It requires them to judge all the contestants only on the quality of their voices. The judges’ backs are turned and they never see the performer. Power, poise, presence, emotion, erudition, excitement — it all has to be conveyed to the judges only by the sound of the voice — not by any see-me-showmanship. The power to convince, convict, and control is not in the contestants own hands. It is in their tongues.
The power of the tongue was of central concern to James in today’s epistle text. And what power it has. Did you know the tongue can lift up to 80 times its own weight? In fact, did you know the strongest muscle in the body is the tongue? The only other muscle that comes close is the masseter muscle — that’s the thick muscle in the cheek located at the back of the jaw that opens and shuts your mouth. But it’s not technically a muscle, since it’s also made up of bones. It does, however, clamp the mouth shut, and the need to clamp the mouth shut is the theme of our text from James this morning...