Sunday, March 17, 2019
Lent 2

Luke 13:31-35: Some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill
you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing
cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.

Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to
be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those
who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood
under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see
me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

————————————————————————————————————————————–

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all of our hearts be always acceptable in your
sight o Lord, our rock and our redeemer…

When I was in grade school I wrote my class speech on my favourite philosopher, who I love to quote to
this day. I even have one of his quotes on a post-it note on my mirror, hanging up where I see it every
morning: Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you
seem, and smarter than you think.

And I like seeing this every morning, because I like to remind myself to be brave, to be strong, to be
smart. As I said last week, I’m very into taking big risks and jumping big cliffs. I love thinking of myself
as courageous.

But I think that part of the journey through Lent is understanding that there are two kinds of courage.
One is the immediate and situational courage of the person who, in a moment of extreme need, summons
the courage to face an imminent danger. This is the courage of the by-stander who pushes someone out
of the way of oncoming traffic or jumps into a raging river to save someone struggling to swim at great
risk to him or herself.

This kind of courage seems very spur-of-the-moment, and makes us question ourselves and whether we
could possible do the same, but ultimately it is a display of character, an accumulation of traits and
beliefs. It is the visceral response of someone who is prepared to act courageously in any given moment,
the training developed and exercised over time, sometimes unknowingly, of a person who can snap into
action. You can see this response from any mom or dad who has snatched their child’s hand away from
something dangerous.

But there is a second kind of courage as well, one not displayed in a single moment or act but in
anticipating a significant, daunting or even frightening challenge and not turning away from it but
meeting it head on.

This is also a show of character, character that has emerged from a lifetime of facing fears and
shouldering burdens, allowing oneself to be forged in accepting challenges and responsibilities that we
could avoid.

It is this second kind of courage that Jesus displays in the gospel passage we heard this morning.
Some Pharisees come and warn Jesus to make a run for it because Herod is out for his blood. And we
don’t know who these particular Pharisees are or what motivates them, but that doesn’t really matter.
We just know they show up to tell Jesus to run and save his life, and that Jesus refuses. Instead, he will
keep to the road ahead of him, traveling the arduous path to Jerusalem to meet his death on the cross.
And this commitment to embrace his dark and difficult destiny for the sake of humanity is the very
embodiment of this second kind of courage.

And to be honest, it’s always kind of bothered me the way we portray sometimes the steadfast courage
that Jesus displays in moving forward to Jerusalem and the cross on behalf of the world God loves so
much. Because we often want to overlook the critical commentary the gospel offers on Jesus.
We like nice Jesus, who makes us feel comfortable and is a pretty cool guy who is okay with whatever
we do. We like king Jesus, all glory and honour. We like the versions of Jesus that speak to the good
parts, not the tough parts.

And we bypass the challenge and suffering, because this Jesus who walks the wilderness on his journey
to the cross says something significant about courage. It says that the ability to make oneself vulnerable
for the sake of others is essential to courage.

And I think this is important to note, because we don’t often equate vulnerability with strength and
bravery. When we think of sacrificing our lives for another, I know I imagine, and you probably do to,
the act of going down fighting, not the slow, certain walk of one who is fully aware of the pain waiting
for them.

Jesus walks on to Jerusalem not to prove himself fearless or a hero, not to make a sacrifice for sin to a
judgemental God; Jesus marches to Jerusalem and embraces the cross that waits for him there out of a
profound love for the people around him.

This is what Christ embodies, this vulnerability, this love. This is the courage of God – that God becomes
incarnate and vulnerable, that his strength is in what others would find weak: love and grace and
forgiveness and sacrifice. That he calls those who others would call powerless or marginalized, irrelevant
or unimportant.

Because in this vulnerability, we find connection, we find authenticity, we find innovation, we find
creativity. Vulnerability is the birthplace of change and the deep vein that sustains relationship.
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, when we can open ourselves us to others, we can be honest,
we can choose to let our true selves be seen and we can see others more clearly. When we allow ourselves
to be vulnerable, we can know that we are imperfect and wired for struggle, but that we are also worthy
of love and belonging. And we can give of ourselves, abundantly, ridiculously abundantly.

We are facing a time right now in the church where we are being given that choice: to grow and change
and be courageous, taking big risks and letting down our guard. To say yes instead of no, to say what
can we give instead of what are we owed, to find ourselves in the wilderness instead of locked safe in
familiar territory.

I said last week that Lent is a time to lean into the uncomfortable and uncertain, and it takes no small
amount of vulnerability to do that, it takes no small amount of courage to do that. But where we go, we
go together, and when we lean into this season of uncomfortableness, we are also leaning into hope. We
are embarking on our epic journey through this wilderness, and this Lent invites us into daring greatly.
So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us embrace our vulnerabilities, embrace our strength, and
embrace this time to grow together, because I will reiterate the immortal words of my favourite
philosopher, one Winnie the Pooh: Promise me you’ll always remember, you are all braver than you
believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Hana Scorrar