Recovery Month Sermon

13 Pentecost/Year C

Sept 8, 2019

Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33


Opening prayer: Loving God, as we come before you this morning, give us open hearts and open hands. Make us eager to hear your voice and seek your guidance. Open our minds to your ever-present spirit that is always moving within and around us. Open our spirits to your nudging and open our lives to your love.

. ~ posted on The Minor Keys.


Sometimes Jesus’ words come off sounding quite beautiful and lovely…nudging us gently to follow him….Other times…not so gentle…and beautiful sounding…

Today’s gospel reading…is one of those “not so gentle” messages about what it means to follow him. Jesus has some harsh words for those who say they want to follow him, and be his disciple. "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. …none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."

Jesus certainly has a way with words sometimes…words that always manage to catch one’s attention…he has a way about him…that brings us uncomfortably close to the truth…his words can be pretty shocking at times, sound pretty radical, sound impossible, and pretty much turn upside down, anything we thought we understood about him, and what we really think we are doing, when we say yes…to following him…

Jesus always seemed to have a large crowd gathering around him…There seemed to be plenty of people who were travelling with him from place to place…eager to hear what he had to say…

But every once in awhile…he stopped what he was doing…turned around and looked directly at those who were following him…and questioned them…

He wanted to know, if they realized fully who it was they were following…where they thought he might be leading them…

He wanted to know, if they realized…that following him…meant going all the way to the cross with him…he told them more than once…that the Son of Man would be killed, and on the third day He would rise again.  But the disciples…didn’t seem to understand these words…or perhaps they didn’t want to hear what he was saying… when he began to talk about his death…

They couldn’t get past the harsh words. They seem to stop there. And then go back to their own version of what it is they were doing, in following Jesus. And perhaps, just brush it off.

But Jesus’ invitation to follow him, and be a disciple means that we trust in Him enough…to follow him all the way to the cross…and stay there with him, face the hard stuff, acknowledge the death, be there in the quiet and unknowing of what’s next…Trust in his hard words of truth…because as we have the benefit of knowing now…death does not have the final say…because Jesus did rise to life again on the third day…so that all of us…could also be transformed into new life with him.

Following Jesus is hard…but, in considering the cost and the value of all of God’s beloved children…striving to love one another as Christ has loved us….every step with Jesus, with our brothers and sisters is so worth it…

I am particularly thinking of our brothers and sisters who are struggling with mental health and substance use disorders….it can often be a long and difficult road to recovery…but with the support of people along the way…hard and difficult is not impossible…

September is National Recovery Month. It is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a national observance held every September to educate the general public that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders to live healthy and rewarding lives. This observance celebrates the millions of people who are in recovery from mental and substance use disorders, reminding us that treatment is effective and that people can and do recover.

 It also serves to help reduce the stigma and misconceptions that cloud public understanding of mental and substance use disorders, potentially discouraging others from seeking help.

The 2019 Recovery month theme: “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger,” emphasizes the need to share resources and build networks across the country to support recovery. It reminds us that mental and substance use disorders affect us all, and that we are all part of the solution.

There are several things happening in Sitka as part of recovery month. This past weekend, was a walk in recognition of suicide prevention efforts…and many people walked, to remember a loved one who has died by suicide.

Next weekend, Sitka counseling is inviting the community to come out and walk for recovery…a chance to celebrate those in recovery from mental health and substance use related issues…and to spread the message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover. (SCPS)

St Peter’s will hold a special prayer service on Sept 18, in recognition of Recovery month.

At the end of the month, there will be a community Recovery Month Potlatch…

Every day, here in Sitka, there are AA/NA groups, and other support groups available to those in recovery and for their families and circle of support…

Those in recovery need support from the whole community. (not from just the counselors, the medical establishments, the mental health practitioners).  They can’t do it themselves, their family cannot support them all on their own…it takes all of us to seek to be educated, and seek ways that we can walk with people on the long road to recovery.

Following Jesus is all about community. It’s all about finding ways to walk with each other through the hard times, and the joyful times. It’s all about trusting Jesus to know, that when he walk with him, he will not only lead us to face the difficult issues in our lives, but he will lead us beyond that into a new life…transformed by the love of God into a new creation

I could imagine Jesus walking right alongside with all those on the road to recovery as they face the very hard stuff…and go through the difficult period of transition and transformation to a new life ….

And as brothers and sisters in Christ…I imagine Jesus is inviting us to follow him…to really think about what it means to be a disciple of Christ…trusting in Him, going wherever he leads us…going all the way with him….doing whatever it takes…to love one another, as Christ as loved us….but not only following Christ alone, but in community with one another.

That’s where the fullness of life begins and ends and begins again…in following Jesus, all the way….walking together with our brothers and sisters…all the way….trusting in the way Jesus is leading us…into newness of life…and God’s everlasting grace and glory….

Lift Every Voice and Sing II - #144 Where He Leads Me

1          I can hear my Savior calling, (x3)

            "Take thy cross and follow, follow me."

            Refrain Where He leads me I will follow,(x3)

            I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.


2          I'll go with Him through the garden, (x3)

            I'll go with Him, with Him all the way. Refrain


3          I'll go with Him through the judgement, (x3)

            I'll go with Him, with Him all the way. Refrain


4          He will give me grace and glory, (x3)

            And go with me, with me all the way.  Refrain


Rev Julie Platson, St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church, Sitka, AK