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    Rev. Cameron Schnarr

Beautiful Savior Lutheran School

Lutheran Church Canada - What do you believe?

LCC - Lutheran Church Canada

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, Canada
Let This Cup Pass

Let This Cup Pass

Preached on February 10, 2016

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(This dialog homily is written for three voices. The PASTOR, speaking from the pulpit, delivers the lines in plain type. A WOMAN, perhaps a young mother, speaking either from the front of the congregation or simply as a voice from the balcony, delivers the indented lines in italics. The Biblical character ADAM may also speak from the front or the back of the church, delivering the indented lines in boldface type. Note that the two characters are not speaking to the Pastor, although the Pastor does acknowledge their presence. We are merely overhearing their thoughts.)

PASTOR: "Do I hafta?" a child asks. You are familiar with the question, I'm sure, and probably with the circumstances as well. "Do I hafta?" a child asks. Is that question a serious challenge to authority, an attempt to determine who is really in charge here? Or is it simply human selfishness expressing itself once again?

You may notice that the question is almost never asked about pleasant things. "Do I hafta eat that ice cream bar? Do I hafta go to the amusement park? Do I hafta get birthday presents?"

But the question arises when unpleasantness may be in the offing, inconvenience at best, discomfort at worst. "Do I hafta do my homework now? Do I hafta clean my room? Do I hafta go to the dentist?"

SANDRA: I don't know how it snuck up on me ... how it always seems to sneak up on me. I should know by now that it's coming. Lent, I mean. It's not as though it doesn't come every year.

And maybe that's exactly the problem. EVERY YEAR! Just when winter seems to be in its final death throes ... when the slightest hint of spring is in the air ... when the days are just beginning to stretch out, and the long nights are toying with the idea of receding ... when my husband and I are starting to look toward Spring Break for the kids ... and then to summer vacation plans ....

Then BAM, out of nowhere it seems to come every year! Lent ... with its dusty, embarrassing ashes ... and its deep purple color ... with its extra church services ... and its extra requirements--devotions ... charity ... the annual scramble to think of what to "give up for Lent." That's a tough one, too. It can't be something absolutely essential. I mean, I can't function without COFFEE, for goodness sake. But it can't be something so inconsequential as to be laughable ... like eating caviar or wearing cashmere.

Oh, I can't believe I've got to start THIS all over again!

PASTOR: Did that voice sound familiar? Or the sentiments, at least--perhaps questions you've asked yourself? Comments you've made under your breath?

SANDRA: Do I hafta go through LENT? ... again! With all that it might entail: praying ... going to church ... doing devotions ... giving things up ... giving to charity. Do I hafta wear those ashes on my forehead?

Don't get me wrong. I'm a Christian. I know what God has done for me. I appreciate Jesus' suffering and death.

But really! Six and a half weeks every year ... every SPRING ... to think about such dark things ... to think about DEATH?

PASTOR: She's onto something, isn't she? Because the "haftas" of this season run really much deeper than simply wearing ashes, attending extra services, or "giving something up."

Do I hafta think about being only human, about dying?

What have I done?

Here's someone who understands the topic. It's Adam, the first man, who was molded by God's own hand, who bore in his lungs the very breath of God, who tasted forbidden fruit and fell from grace ... fell into sin:

CHAD: It's a question that haunts me. What have I done? I recognize the results. The sweat that drips from my brow. The thorns and thistles that choke out my crops. My wife's midnight moans of heavy labor and childbirth.

I walk up the hill to the stone that marks Abel's grave. I sit up there ... and I think about the Garden. I think that things were never meant to be THIS way. I think that DEATH was never in HIS plans for us.

And the question haunts me. What have I done?

I have rebelled against the most high God! In my insolence I have exchanged paradise for death!

What have I done? The question haunts me.

And with it, other questions arise. Can I uneat the fruit? Can I unkill my son? Can I undo my sin?

What have I done? What can I do to make it right?

Do I hafta think about being only human ... about dying?

PASTOR: Isn't that the question echoed in today's Gospel--"Do I hafta drink this cup?"

The honest answer to that question is NO! You don't "hafta." The message of Lent is precisely that: that Jesus--who once asked the same kinds of questions we do--answered, "YES ... I do hafta." -- Not because he deserved to--as Adam deserved to, as we deserve to ... but because he CHOSE to, because it was God's will.

WHAT was God's will? That we be saved, the Bible says, redeemed from sin ... that we might be able eventually to take the cup of salvation and drink of the river of life forevermore.

So what's the hang-up? Why do we find ourselves asking, "Do I hafta?" Is it just because we are selfish and lazy, and no more than that? The beginning of Lent might be a good time to note that, as insignificant as we may regard them, selfish and lazy are both on the traditional list of The Seven Deadly Sins. DEADLY sins ... because they betray the fact that there is probably a deeper rebellion going on here, and more serious. By asking, "Do I hafta?" are we taking sides with Adam and Eve, opposing the Lord God? Like the child who asks, "Do I hafta?", are we challenging authority? God's authority?

What have I done?

I have rebelled against the most high God! In my insolence I have exchanged paradise for death!

If that is the case, then YES, maybe we do "hafta." Maybe our eternal welfare hangs on what we observe again this Lent. And maybe it's important--eternally important--that we do observe it.

For "we are dust, and to dust we shall return."

Dust. That's a dry prospect, you may have noticed. In Jesus' parable, the self-centered man who ended up in hell besought a drop of water to quench his thirst. Would he have asked, "Must I drink this cup?"? THAT cup--the cup with just a drop of water to quench his thirst--he would have welcomed ... but it was too late.

Again this Lent we are being offered a cup to drink.

But it is not the cup you might think. It is certainly not the cup that Jesus drank--the one Jesus HAD to drink.

No. But it is precisely BECAUSE Jesus drank that cup--the cup of suffering ... the cup of death--that we are allowed to drink the cup which we are offered. We are offered the cup of SALVATION!

Do we hafta go through all this to appreciate that? Maybe not. Then again, we might want to analyze the question, and the motive behind it. "Do I hafta eat that ice cream bar? Do I hafta go to the amusement park? Do I hafta get birthday presents?"

Do I hafta know my sins are forgiven, my future assured, my debt paid, my resurrection promised and guaranteed?

The message of Lent is this: When Jesus faced such questions, he answered YES.

Rev. Cameron Schnarr