Sermons 2007
"Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Lent 2C Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Luke 13:22-35

In 1978, a psychiatrist named M. Scott Peck published a book titled “The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth.” The brook struck a sympathetic note in and for much of the Great American Public – it was a best seller for years and copies of it can still be found in many libraries public and private. Which was very interesting because the opening sentence of the first chapter was simple in the extreme: “Life is difficult.” Well. Yes.

He went on to say in the next paragraph that life is difficult “is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” (1)

I have to admit that I could never quite get past that first page, for reasons I never fully understood, particularly having been raised in a family in which key members whined, complained, and became enraged about almost anything and everything, however unimportant

That life is difficult was true enough, certainly in that family. And it seems to be something of which Jesus is speaking to his audience and the Pharisees in our Gospel reading for today. All this business of narrow gates, and knocking at shut and locked doors, and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and the last being first and the first being last. Life is difficult, all right.

Maybe it’s something like a story the columnist Bob Greene once wrote about fraternities and rush week: “It all began with a Freshman who had an odd shape. He lacked the height, broad shoulders, the rugged face which fraternities preferred, but he really wanted to be chosen by a fraternity. So the freshman went to one rush party, and there he was invited to sit in the corner and was left there for two hours. At another fraternity party he was ushered out onto the fire escape, where he was left for an hour. In a third house he was ushered into a side room where it was clear that all the others present were also immediate rejects.

“One night two seniors from one of the elite fraternities were sent to visit a likely candidate, and they got the wrong room. When they entered, they found not the desired candidate, but the young man with the odd shape. It was clear that he had been sobbing. They sat down with him. He poured out his life's rejections, and his experience in the rush process on the campus. The two seniors were moved by what they heard. They decided to do something about it. They went to each fraternity and argued for more humane treatment of all students who signed up for the rush process. They got a few snickers, but on the whole, their seriousness, and the fact that they were respected insiders, won them a hearing.

“During the next round of rush parties, the student with the odd shape was treated with respect and, although he was not chosen, he received no further hurt. Shortly thereafter, the two seniors resigned from their own fraternity. "The two of them didn't know exactly why they were doing this,” Greene noted. “But it was the first grownup thing they had ever done, and it felt right."” (2)

Robert Frost, in a poem entitled “The road Not Taken”, had this to say about such things:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. (3)

Scott Peck drew at times from the symbols of other
faith traditions. But there is this:

The Hindu temple is built in the form of a man. The outer court raised on pillars and open on all sides is the human body, the inner court with its wide spaces is the human mind, the shrine room is the human soul. Man moves within himself into himself and there finds the presence of God.

The Muslim mosque, too, is built in the form of a man. The central dome is man's head and the minarets are his hands upraised in prayer. Man comes to God through an act of adoration and submission.

The Buddhist dogoba, too, is built in the form of a man. Its figure is that of a man in the posture of meditation: legs crossed the body erect, and the head held straight and unmoving. The approach to reality is by way of inner withdrawal from the world.

Many Christian churches, too, are built in the form of a man. That man is stretched out upon a cross. And this has made all the difference. (4)


1. Peck, M Scott, MD, “the Road Less Traveled”, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1978, p. 15.
2. “As quoted in “A Sermon : A Grown Up Thing”, SermonMall for Lent 2C 2007
4. Bret Blair, “In the Form of a Man”, as adapted from Daniel T Niles, eSermons Illustrations for Lent 2C 2007