The Ancient Paths: Follow
This past Sunday we talked about the first ancient path that we walk as members of Mariners’ Church: Following Christ.
The Book of Common Prayer says on page 291 that our “bounden duty” as members of the Church is to “follow Christ, to worship God every Sunday in his church; and to work and pray and give for the spread of his kingdom.”
We will be talking about these themes over the coming weeks, and last Sunday we got started with the first one: following Christ, talking especially about two ways we are called to follow Christ:
- By obeying his teaching
- By following his example, especially in walking the way of the Cross.
As a refresher for those who were there, and a catch-up for those who missed it, we offer the following excerpts from the sermon, and questions for reflection on the theme of following Christ.
Excerpts from the Sermon:
On the call to follow:
The call of Christ to all who would be his disciples [is]: “Follow me.” A call that is as difficult as it is simple, demanding as it is concise, because to follow Christ involves the cross. “Take up your cross and follow me,” he says. A call that is as lengthy as it is succinct, because it is the journey of a lifetime. A call that is an end as much as a beginning, because it is the aim, the goal, the purpose of all to whom Christ offers salvation and calls to himself.
It is both race and prize because it is in the act of following Christ itself that we find him, in the humility that it takes to follow, we become like him. In the openness that it takes to follow, he fills us. In the letting go of ourselves that it takes to follow, he holds us, and lifts us, and draws us: holding us in his hands, lifting us in his arms, drawing us close to himself… where we hear the very heartbeat of God… And if you listen, if you embrace the silence that is required to follow, you will hear that the heart of God beats with infinite, perfect, unconditional love, and you will come to know, not just as someone knows information, or facts, or figures, but as lovers know their beloved, that this infinite, perfect, unconditional love is a love for you, his child. And you will hear in his heart the call that you heard from the first, gently bidding you: “Follow me.” And as you follow, drawing deeper and deeper into the heart of God, you will begin to hear the echo of your own heart, beating with the rhythm of love: for God, for others, for his world.
On following Christ by taking up the Cross:
“The cross stands still while the world turns,” said St. Bruno of Cologne. While there is chaos in the world around us, and always has been, the Cross remains at the center of the cosmos, standing steadily, the locus of the great self-sacrifice of God that stands as our example, unchanging throughout the ages. And to be Christ’s disciple is to follow in these footsteps, to love sacrificially, to take up your cross[…]
But, at the cross, you will find life there, because that is where Christ is to be found! “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” Christ said. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”
On the grace to follow:
And there will be points where as you follow Christ, your efforts fall short, your desires are disordered, and you miss the mark. It’s when you reach the point that your natural capabilities are exhausted that there is room for God’s grace to enter into your life and transform you! St. Augustine of Hippo said this in prayer to God, “Woe betide the soul which supposes it will find something better if it forsakes you! For toss and turn as we may, on our back, on our side, on our belly – our bed is hard at every point, for you alone are our rest. But lo! Hear you are, you rescue us from our wretched meanderings and establish us in your way. You console us, and bid us, ‘Run, I will carry you, I will lead you, and I will bring you home.’”
We follow Christ, knowing that as we run the race that is set before us by him who is the author and finisher of our faith, that when we stumble, he will carry us. We follow Christ, knowing that when we are lost it is he who will lead us. We follow Christ, knowing that where he is bringing us is to our eternal and blessed, our true and only home.
Questions for reflection:
This week, as you pray about and meditate on what it means to follow Christ, you are invited to consider the following questions:
- What are some ways that you are currently following Jesus well?
- What is something Jesus asks of us as his disciples that you find difficult to do? How could you begin to do this more consistently? How do you think doing this would open yourself up to an increase of God’s grace in your life?
- Pause for some reflection. What are the obstacles that hinder you from following Jesus? How could you begin to see them in his light and begin to let them go, “casting all your cares upon him, for he careth for you”?
Our sermon series The Ancient Paths continues this Sunday, May 19. Join us, as our theme will be “Worship”. Complimentary parking is available for our 8:30 and 11 A.M. services in the Ford Underground Garage. For information on planning your visit to Mariners’ Church, see https://marinerschurchofdetroit.org/newvisitors/. See you soon!