Tuesday, September 5, 2023

King of the Hill


Matthew 16:21-28

Proper 17 / Year A 

Greetings my brothers and sisters in Christ.

When I was five years old I won a supermarket contest with a prize of $10.  As you might imagine I was itching to spend it, so off we went to a local toy store.  I fell in love with a game called King of the Hill, a picture of which is in your bulletin.  I remember distinctly it cost $5.99.  I remember this because I thought you had to have exact change to make a purchase.  So I said to my mother, “Can I trade you my $10 for $5.99?”  Puzzled, she agreed and I bought my game.

The object of King of the Hill is to move your marble up anyone of numerous circuitous paths.  A spinner tells you how many spaces you get to advance on your turn.  Each space is a little dimple in the path.  Now, to make the game more interesting, some spaces are holes.  If this is where you land your marble disappears into the mountain and reappears randomly at one of several tunnel openings lower on the path.  At the very top of the mountain is a crown and the first person to get a marble to it is the King of the Hill.

This simple children’s game provides some insight into this morning’s reading from the gospel of Matthew.  When Jesus tells his followers about the challenges which await him in Jerusalem, Peter suggests nothing but good times lie ahead.  Surely someone as special as Jesus will be subject only to special treatment.  It is as if Peter is saying to Jesus “Your marble will move right up the hill without a hiccup.”  Jesus responds by saying, “If you want to be my disciple you must pick up your cross and follow me.”

In this I hear him saying the way forward in life will not always be easy.  There will be set backs, disappointments, failures, suffering, and (yes) even death.  You can’t avoid them.  You can’t go around them.  You just have to go through them.  You just have to carry your cross, spin again on your next turn and keep moving forward.  The good news is eventually, in the end, we are promised a crown of glory which will never fade away.  

I look forward to being with you all next Sunday.  Until then… be good… do good… and go with God.