RCL Year B Proper 20
Jeremiah 11:18-20, Psalm 54, James 3:13–4:3 and 7-8a, Saint Mark 9:30-37

This week I had lunch with a retired officer of the Philadelphia Police Department who also is the Treasurer of his Methodist Church. Among many other things, he said something very like this to me:

“Now, let me get this straight. This whole world, that we can barely understand, is either an accident or the work of an intelligent designer? There were sub-species of primates disallowed from evolving into human beings, or our evolution is all an accident? There are dna and chromosomes in us that produce an opposable thumb in just the right place and not on a back or on a forehead in human being after human being, or that thumb is all an accident? Or, there are plants and animals beyond number and beyond our ability to catalogue and classify, or the whole interlocking combination of species is just an accident, just Mother Nature having her way with everything that is? All of these things could just be an accident? I cannot believe it!” He was quite moving when he said all these things. Even for a police officer, he was arresting.

People yearn to hear the story, the story of a loving and merciful Creator whose creative act brings meaning and purpose to the world and to our lives. People long to know that who they are and what they do contribute to bring meaning and purpose to a tough and sometimes mysterious world.

But that’s the story we Christians have to tell. A sliver of the story is the Gospel today. For the second time Jesus predicts the magnanimous gift of himself for the redemption and the salvation of the world. He tells his disciples that he will give himself beyond the point of death to save us and all who put their trust in him, and including all of those in his resurrection.

God made us and redeemed us through the love of Jesus Christ and sanctifies us through the Holy Spirit. And these extravagant acts of God mean that our lives have meaning and purpose. We are here, and that’s no accident. We have the opportunity to witness, and that’s no accident. We live and love in the image of God, and that’s no accident. We are Christ’s and Christ’s forever, and that’s no accident.