Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote one of the five most important books in my life: The Cost of Discipleship. Bonheoffer hit me between the eyes in 1974 and hits me again today with the truth that, “cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
As one writer put it, “Cheap grace, is to hear the gospel preached as follows: “Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness.” The main defect of such a proclamation is that it contains no demand for discipleship. In contrast to cheap grace, costly grace on the other hand, confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.'” (Matthew 11:30)
As we continue our journey with Mark, we enter the downward trajectory of what is called, “Holy Week.” Mark 14:12-42:
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day the lambs for the Passover meal were killed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and get the Passover meal ready for you?” Then Jesus sent two of them with these instructions: “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house he enters, and say to the owner of the house: ‘The Teacher says, Where is the room where my disciples and I will eat the Passover meal?’
Then he will show you a large upstairs room, fixed up and furnished, where you will get everything ready for us.” The disciples left, went to the city, and found everything just as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus came with the twelve disciples. While they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you that one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” The disciples were upset and began to ask him, one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, do you?”
Jesus answered, “It will be one of you twelve, one who dips his bread in the dish with me.
The Son of Man will die as the Scriptures say he will; but how terrible for that man who will betray the Son of Man! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born!” While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. “Take it,” he said, “this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and handed it to them; and they all drank from it. Jesus said, “This is my blood which is poured out for many, my blood which seals God’s covenant. I tell you, I will never again drink this wine until the day I drink the new wine in the Kingdom of God.”
Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus said to them, “All of you will run away and leave me, for the scripture says, ‘God will kill the shepherd, and the sheep will all be scattered.’ But after I am raised to life, I will go to Galilee ahead of you.” Peter answered, “I will never leave you, even though all the rest do!”
Jesus said to Peter, “I tell you that before the rooster crows two times tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me.” Peter answered even more strongly, “I will never say that, even if I have to die with you!” And all the other disciples said the same thing. They came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
He took Peter, James, and John with him. Distress and anguish came over him,
and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch.” He went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering. “Father,” he prayed, “my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.”
Then he returned and found the three disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Weren’t you able to stay awake for even one hour?” And he said to them, “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away once more and prayed, saying the same words.
Then he came back to the disciples and found them asleep; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to say to him. When he came back the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come! Look, the Son of Man is now being handed over to the power of sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”
Is the grace of God in your life cheap or costly? Are you willing to see and tell the truth?
See you Sunday. Here’s what I have on my desk…
HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE
PALM SUNDAY—APRIL 9—8:30 AM AND 10:15 AM
Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday. Both services will feature a palm branch procession, special music and a message from Pastor Rich.
MAUNDY THURSDAY—APRIL 13—6:00 to 8:00 PM
Join us any time between the hours of 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM for a self-guided “Journey to the Cross.” Go at your own pace and spend some quiet, contemplative time with your Savior. This is a special worship experience as we celebrate Jesus’ Last Supper and re-imagine the journey to the cross, just as Christian pilgrims have done for centuries.
COMMUNITY GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE—APRIL 14—12:00 NOON
Held at Trinity Episcopal Church, 275 East Spain Street, and sponsored by the Sonoma Valley Ministerial Association. Join with other Christian friends as we spend some special time together.
EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE—APRIL 16—6:30 AM
Join the Sr. High Youth Group for one of the worship highlights of the year! They will lead us in a service celebrating the Risen Son! DRESS VERY WARM and join us on the South Patio.
EASTER RESURRECTION CELEBRATION—APRIL 16—8:30 AM AND 10:15 AM
Easter Sunday is always special at St. Andrew. Join us for our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus—We will have special music, sanctuary art, Pastor Rich’s Easter message, fresh-baked muffins. Bring a friend to experience this amazing day at St. Andrew!
The 8th Annual CROP WALK is Sunday, April 23rd—12:00 Noon to 2:00 PM
Register at Burlingame Hall, 252 W Spain. Walk begins and ends at Burlingame Hall.
There are three ways you can support—WALK, DONATE OR DINE (ALL DAY on Wed. April 26th at participating restaurants). Sign up this morning at the Crop Walk table or see the flyer in your bulletin for more details. For more information—contact Carol Werner at 935-1235 or [email protected].
THE CARRTUNES ARE COMING TO ST. ANDREW!
Join us on Saturday evening, April 29th, 5:00 to 8:00 PM, for a great night of music performed by The Carrtunes. For those of you who would like to join us for a fun, appetizer party ($25 per couple/$15 per person), come at 5:00 PM! Three members of our own church are in this musical group. Bring a friend and let’s fill the house to support them and the youth group! A free-will offering will be taken to support our Youth Group’s Summer Mission Trip to San Diego—Caravan 2017.