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A Point of Comparison

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One of the challenges in life as we adapt and adjust to new situations is the temptation to look back and compare what we are experiencing now with what we have experienced in the past. In order to feel settled, we often need to find a point of reference or a point of comparison.

I read several articles this week describing Chuseok as the Korean version of “Thanksgiving.” As I try to understand and prepare to celebrate this very special holiday, I realize that it is sometimes difficult to compare things that really are different. In fact, several other articles pointed out that “Thanksgiving” may not be a very good comparison after all! This need to find a point of comparison is true not only of the expatriate life of adjusting to a new culture, but especially in our lives of faith. It is hard to let go of what is familiar and appreciate the new situation for what it is. Letting go of the past and grabbing hold of the present is a life skill we all wrestle with.

In Luke’s gospel lesson for today, the evangelist records a very real moment in Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and to His cross. While the crowds following Him continued to grow, He spoke with plain words the reality of the journey He is on. “Whoever does not hate his own life is not able to be my disciple.” Even our most precious relationships in life: parents, spouse and children cannot compare with the sole devotion that His kingdom calls for in following Him. Sometimes called “counting the cost of discipleship,”

Jesus gives two parables to illustrate His point, that of a builder and that of a king going off to war. In both parables, the point is clear, one must take seriously “the cost” involved in the path ahead. While these words may seem hard, they are in fact a glimpse into the Builder and the King who knows exactly what it will “cost” for Him to bring us into His kingdom. Jesus would deny Himself and be denied by the Father on the Cross in order to win us and bring us into His family forever. His solitary devotion to you and me is what calls us here this morning and changes our lives completely. We follow Him on this path of total self-denial empowered by His Holy Spirit, and all our relationships – parents, spouse, children and self are completely changed. His Cross is the only point of comparison where now we see the opportunity to serve God in and through each of these relationships.

This week some of us will be traveling to visit family and our ancestral homes. Maybe we will share a meal together with new friends or old ones and just enjoy some time less structured. God bless you in and through each of these relationships. Let His Love for you and His complete devotion to your salvation become the point where He makes all things new again in you and through you.

Happy Chuseok! God bless and keep you in His care!
Pastor Carl

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