Wednesday, February 28th, Midweek Worship

Please join us for the supper and midweek worship service today, February 28th. Supper is at 6 pm and worship is at 7 pm. Week 2: “Listen, God is calling you to free your mind”


Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Overview by Rev. Erika R Uthe

These words I wrote

Free your mind and the rest gonna go

Can’t let empire crush my soul

This is the life I chose and so

I cry freedom

~ Genesis Be, Freedom Cry

A childless couple ‘as good as dead’ (Romans 4.19) will become the ancestors of nations and kings? The Savior of the Nations must undergo suffering, death, and 3 days later rise from the dead? The theme in the texts for the 2nd Sunday in Lent is certainly one of mind-bending reality checks. You really do have to love how Paul describes Abraham and Sarah – as good as dead – ready to become the mother and father of nations. And yet here we have a second covenant from Genesis wherein God has found a creative way to bring salvation and life to the humans and world God so loves. Of course we know that the covenant didn’t work out so neat and tidy because Abraham’s faith was certainly not always 100% steadfast. After all, some time had already passed and God’s promise was not coming to fruition. By this time in Abraham’s story, he and Sarah had already taken matters into their hands by helping God along a little – Hagar, Sarah’s slave had already given birth to Ishmael who was said to be 13 (Genesis 17.25).

If Abraham and Sarah’s response to God’s promise might be described as incredulous, Peter’s response to Christ’s teaching in Mark 8 is one of straight rejection. His mind simply could not register that the Savior, the Christ, God’s anointed would do anything but rule in power and might, overthrowing an oppressive system of tyranny, and bringing economic and literal freedom to God’s people. Peter’s idea of salvation did not include the Syrophoenicians, or the Samaritans, and especially not the Romans. Just when Jesus thought he had left Satan behind in the wilderness, here again Jesus is facing temptation from one of his closest followers. “Get behind me Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Peter’s mind was trapped in what his own reality knew, much like Abraham and Sarah knew that 99-year olds are too old to have children.

Yet God’s salvation asks of us to free our minds, to see beyond what has been, to imagine further than our experience knows, to listen to God’s call to take up our cross and follow Christ. First, a side note. We know that the Week Two: Listen, God is calling you to free your mind Verses Overview 7 call to take up our cross is a passage that has been (and continues to be) misinterpreted, often to the harm of those who believe that God is calling them to continue in abusive relationships, or to be manipulated. We are clear that in this call to discipleship, God intends full life – not without loss, or grief, or the faith and trust in death and resurrection – but a call that leads to wholeness and reconciliation. Given the clarity that Christ’s call to take up your cross is grounded love and life, we can begin to dig into what it means to take up your cross.

For Peter, there was a singular way for Christ to embody his role as Savior, and his surety that this one way was correct led to him being a vessel of Satan rather than a disciple of Christ. He had the best of intentions, and his love for Christ is clear. Peter is so relatable and perhaps you or your congregation can identify with him. He has a vision for how it must be – Jesus has been performing miracles, healing people, he is gathering support and he will finally ride triumphantly into Jerusalem to reclaim David’s throne. Yet in his rigid understanding of God’s salvation, he has missed God’s call to come and die – that you might find new life.

For congregations and church today there seems to be a singular vision for how it must be: pews full of young families, or maybe if we just had a praise band that all the other churches have, or if we just found the perfect night for the community meal. Yet in all of these visions, there is a key component missing – Jesus. The communal vision is one of lots of people, fancy music, and love of neighbor but the reason we do any of this, to worship the risen Lord Jesus and live as disciples, is completely left out of the equation. It seems as though we have all fallen into the trap of setting our minds on human things, and working to gain the world.

But we are in good company. Abraham, Sarah, Peter – all these ancestors in faith each got it wrong, too. And despite their missteps, God remained faithful and fulfilled God’s promises. Jesus calls us to set our minds on divine things, not on human things. Listen, he is calling us! Maybe we don’t need to measure success with the number of children in the education wing. Maybe we don’t need to compare our worship with that of our neighbor down the street. Maybe we can stop beating ourselves up for something we think we’re not, and start celebrating our communities for who we are. God is calling you to free your mind – to let go of your own ideas of salvation and success and take up your cross. As together we take up our cross, maybe we will be able to experience a freed mind and vision for God’s salvation now. We might be freed to see God at work in new and unexpected ways, in new and unexpected people. It is hard to cling to the cross and experience a freed mind, but as the cross calls us and reminds us, it is in death that we find freedom and life. Clinging to Christ’s cross, clinging to his resurrection, we free our mind and we might be surprised to learn that the rest will follow.