Today’s Gospel is a turning point.
It is the point in Mark’s Gospel when Jesus literally turns his back on people’s expectations, and begins to tell them what it really means to be the Son of Man, the Messiah.
Jesus didn’t come to overthrow the Romans, didn’t come to walk on water, still storms, or even heal the sick.
He came to give his life.
To show us that it is only when we give our lives do we really find them.
Only when we deny ourselves do we follow Jesus.
It is in the cross that Jesus shows us what it really means to live a godly life, a good life.
It is here in this moment with Peter that the Gospel turns.
And the question for the disciples and for us is will we turn with it.
Will we follow Jesus?
Will we give up our ideas of what it means to be great?
Will we give up our world?
Maybe all of lent for us is a turning point.
It is a time to reflect on life, on where we are, where we are going.
It is a time to reflect on the priorities we have in our lives.
To think about what our relationship with Jesus really means to us.
What are the things that really matter?
What are we giving our time, our energy to?
In our lives we have turning points.
Times that make us reevaluate.
Times that make us change and redirect.
I was thinking a lot about those times this week.
Some of those things are part of life, they are part of how we think things will go in our lives.
Like our first day of school, or graduating high school, getting married, having kids, college, our first job, retiring.
Those are all turning points for some people.
Other people have other events like this in their lives.
But they are things that happen over a lifetime.
And of course there are things that we don’t expect.
Things that happen to us, or maybe even that we choose that are unexpected.
I know a big turning point in my life was when I didn’t make the freshman basketball team.
I thought I would.
I had been a starter the year before on our Jr. High team that was second in the state.
I loved basketball.
I played a lot.
It was in some ways the most important thing in my life.
But then it all changed, in that moment.
I can tell you for certain that if I would have made that team I wouldn’t be a pastor today.
I wouldn’t have gone to Calumet to be a CIT, because I would have been playing basketball all summer.
I wouldn’t have seen that I have a gift and passion for teaching about God’s love.
I wouldn’t have been as understanding about our need for God’s grace.
My life would have been different.
What about you?
What moments seem like turning points in your life?
What moments have happened to you that you didn’t expect?
How has that lead you to this point?
The thing about turning points is that they are also moments of God’s grace.
Because they shake us up.
They make us look at our life differently.
They make us understand ourselves differently.
I know that many of you are going through these kinds of moments.
Some of you are making major decisions about your life.
Some of you are trying to make decisions about where you will spend the last years of life.
Some of you are looking for jobs.
Some of you have lost major relationships in your life.
All of these things are turning points.
And the truth is that usually they are difficult.
I was talking with one of our older members about having to give up driving.
I know from past experience that this is one of the hardest things in life to do.
It represents so much.
It is a loss of freedom and mobility.
It is a turning point for people.
It forces people to rely on others.
And forces people to reevaluate what are the things that matter, and why we do the things we do.
I think that in our Gospel this morning we all feel a little like Peter.
Peter is the one of the most important disciples.
And Peter thinks he knows the answer.
And Jesus just blew it up.
Changes what Peter thought to be true.
It is really disorientating.
Jesus is going to die!
Peter just can’t accept that answer.
That is the same for all of us when we hit those turning points.
This is not the way we saw it playing out.
This is not the way we thought our lives would go.
Maybe we thought it might happen someday, but not now.
We like Peter don’t like the idea that things must die to be resurrected.
That life includes its fair share of suffering and rejection.
So what does Jesus say that will be helpful?
Jesus tells us this morning that it is in those turning points when we lose the lives we think we should have that we find a deeper spiritual truth.
It is in the giving up, that we profit.
When we lose things in our lives we learn to turn again to God.
When we can’t count on money, or youth, or our ability, we learn to turn again to Jesus.
It is in this turning that we realize what I assume Peter and the other disciples came to realize, Jesus is in the suffering, dying, and resurrecting.
That it is in the turning that we come to understand better the love and grace of God.
I know I did when I didn’t make the basketball team.
I know that others do when they lose a part of themselves they thought they couldn’t live without.
I am not suggesting that any of that is easy, I am simply saying that there is something deeper going on in those turning points than we are able to realize at the time.
It is in the losing, the letting go, the cost of living that we find something better.
We find Jesus.
We find our true selves.
This lent may it be a turning point for all of us.
Let us turn to see Jesus in the turning points of our lives.
To see in the dying...rising.
In the loss…profit.
In the letting go…gain.
To see in our lives the grace of God that runs through our lives and helps us to turn to Jesus again.