While the travel narrative is difficult to interpret, there is a discernable movement in Luke’s gospel of a journey leading to a destiny (the cross). In these chance encounters that happen “along the way” something of the cross is foreshadowed and the contrast between the way of the cross and the way most common to all of us is very clear. In each of these encounters, we are asked to examine ourselves – our patterns, our paths, our way – in the light of Jesus’ teachings. This series will trace the Travel Narrative – from the road to Samaria to the road to Emmaus – and show how these encounters with people very much like us, challenge us, especially in our day, to walk an other way.
Week 1 “An Other Way” Luke 9:46-51. Rev. Steve DeNeff
When Jesus says, “I am the Way…” he means that his is the most satisfying life available. Yet we’ve covered the way over with programs designed to elevate Jesus while we continue to traffic in whatever way is common to our culture, usually in ignorance of the ways of Jesus. We underestimate, if we even notice the stark differences between Jesus’ way and our own. This sermon will outline those differences and challenge us to a 40-day experiment to live in the way of Jesus.”
Week 2 “An Other Spirit” Luke 9:51-56. Rev. Steve DeNeff
As soon as Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem,” he entered a Samaritan village where his disciples were not welcome. “Do you want us to command fire to come down and consume them,” his disciples asked, and they said this because they didn’t know what spirit they were of (9:55, margins). Who are the Samaritans of our day? And what does the cross call us to do with them? At the heart of our most controversial subjects is a prejudice born in our spirit and masquerading as an argument. Perhaps the greatest fault line in our nation runs thru the human spirit. This message will call us to be reconcilers with an other spirit.
Week 3 “An Other Priority” Luke 9-57-62. Rev. Steve DeNeff
Everyone is busy. Our schedules are crowded. Our plates are full. Multi-tasking is a sign of importance and Balance a sign of maturity. Sadly, much of our discipleship today is about adding yet another commitment to a growing list of priorities. The result is a “junk drawer” of commitments, collected over time, each one detached from all the others; too valuable to throw away yet too peripheral to re-order the others. It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do; it’s that we do too many things in the time we have. So the “way” of Jesus is a narrowing of our priorities down to one, until we are preoccupied with him, until we have absorbed all other priorities – even the most noble – into his call to “follow.” But how can we, who have other commitments and promises to keep, become preoccupied with only Him? How can we “let the dead bury the dead” while still honoring our ties and our obligations to them?
Week 4 “An Other Greatness” Mark 10:13-16. Dr. Amanda Drury
The story of Jesus blessing the children isn’t a kids story–it’s for adults (children already know they are welcomed on Jesus’ lap, that’s why they’re there). What if children aren’t the future of the church, but they are the church? What would it look like to move past patronizing images of children and see them as equal co-heirs with Christ?
Week 5 “An Other Economy” Luke 18:18-27; 19:1-10 Rev. Steve DeNeff
As Jesus nears Jerusalem we see a contrast between a rich young ruler (18:18-27) and an old, well-established tax collector; both ambitious and wealthy, both well known in the community, and both very interested in Jesus. As is often the case with Jesus, things are not as they seem. In the conversion of Zacchaeus – which is meant to be typical of our own conversion – we see an other economy in which generosity is the norm. In this economy, Jesus challenges our most fundamental beliefs about our possessions and calls us to act in a way that is consistent to these new beliefs. In this economy, wealth is not measured by what we possess, but by what we give away. The self-sufficient are “sad” and desperate (18:23), while the desperate are made whole (or “saved,” 19:9). It is one thing to admire the generous, which most of us are prone to do, but it’s something more to imitate them because we actually believe in their values. That’s what this sermon will call us to do.
Week 5 “An Other Hero” Luke 19:28-42, 45-48 Rev. Steve DeNeff
It’s Palm Sunday. We gather with the “crowd of disciples joyfully praising God in loud voices singing… Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” But can we stay with him as he weeps over the city, cleanses the temple, argues in our courts and contradicts some of our most cherished traditions? We can worship, but can we weep? We can sing with the public, but can we follow him into trouble, controversy, trial and death? Here, on the eve of Easter, the whole journey is compressed into a single week. How far into the week can we go?
Week 5 “An Other Hope” Luke 24:13-35 Rev. Steve DeNeff
One sees what one looks for. After following Jesus toward Jerusalem, “the end of our journey” is on the road to Emmaus (v.28), then back again to Jerusalem (v.33). Like the disciples, we are to see ourselves as travelers along the road (v.13). Like them, we are kept from recognizing Jesus in our every day affairs (v.16). Like the them, we tend to misinterpret “what things” have just happened (v.19). Like them, we must learn that Jesus is present even when it seems he is not (v. 25-27). And like them, we need “our eyes opened” so we can recognize him in places and at times when he seemed absent before (v.31). The story of Easter is that Jesus is not only alive, but fully present. So where is he? How can we find him in places where he seems absent? One sees what one looks for.