“His Face Was Set to Go So What about Yours”                         June 30, 2013

Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 & Luke 9:51-62                                             Stephens City UMC


Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


I.                   Sometimes on Saturday mornings I’m driving somewhere which allows me to listen to the radio.

A.    One of the shows I’ll tune to is on National Public Radio (NPR) and it is CarTalk which is hosted by Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers whose real names are Tom and Ray Magliozzi.

1.     What the Clems are to Stephens City, Tom and Ray are to Boston, Massachusetts, in that they operate an auto repair shop.

2.     They are graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who perceive themselves as comedians.

3.     Think of comedy teams such as the Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello or Adam Sadler and Kevin James.

4.     The show involves people from all over the country calling in with a mysterious problem regarding their automobile and Tom and Ray ask questions to try and diagnosis the problem.

5.     Sometimes they’ll ask what the problem sounds like and people will make the oddest noises.

6.     After listening Tom and Ray might say something like, “That’s bad. Really bad! How much money do you have in your bank account?”

7.     Then they’ll offer their solution and ask if the person thinks they can fix it themselves and if not to take it to the shop.

8.     If given bad advice people know it will do them no good to sue because Tom and Ray are represented by the prestigious law firm of Huey, Dewey and Louie which just happens to be the names of Donald Duck’s nephews.

B.     However, they almost got sued the other week.

1.      In a segment called “Stump the Chumps” the caller after receiving advice is told to call back in 2-3 months and not to contact Tom and Ray during that period so when the person calls back with his/her report we will know that nothing was rigged.

2.     What occurred two-three months prior to the show I heard was that a young man named Steve called in who had been given a car by his mother that she had driven for 5-6 years.

3.     A few months after being given the car it developed some problems with the vents and the heating and air conditioning and a number of other things.

4.     Tom and Ray told him what they thought was wrong and that if he took it to the shop it would cost him around $800, but that since the car had these defects that he should send the bill to his mother and ask her to pay half.

5.     And since they thought they had been funny they laughed and laughed and laughed.

6.     Three months later it was time to learn the results of the “Stump the Chumps” and they were more than stumped when the caller on the other end of the telephone was not Steve but Steve’s mother.   

7.     And Steve’s mother forcefully stated that she had a bone to pick with them.

8.     She informed them that the car was fine when she gave it to Steve and that her husband (Steve’s father) had put four new tires on it before they gave him the title and that this ingrate of a son hadn’t told her what he was going to do and had sent her, out of the clear blue, the entire bill of $800 for the repairs.

C.     OK, this is where I’m going to start to set up the preaching part – Tom and Ray had set their faces in a specific direction when they gave their answer but when they were confronted by an angry mother they turned their faces in the opposite direction and tried everything they could to backpedal and spin their way out of it.

1.     Steve’s mother would have none of it so Tom and Ray did the Christian thing – they tried to blame someone else, in this case Steve.

2.     “Oh yes,” they said.

3.     “Your son is an ingrate. We only told him to send you a bill for half the cost of the repair, but that low-down weasel of a son of yours tried to collect the whole amount from you. The nerve of that guy!”

4.     “Get Steve on the phone” they yelled.

5.     So Steve came on because he was waiting and reminded Tom and Ray that they had said something about sending the bill to his mother and that he was going to get back-up for this from his weasel of a brother whom he could describe that way because the brother was a lawyer.

6.     Hearing that Tom and Ray doubled their efforts to turn their faces in an opposite direction and run from the situation.

7.     What Tom and Ray did illustrates the human condition in that their faces were set but when it got difficult they turned in the opposite direction.

8.     And Steve and his mother laughed and laughed and laughed.

II.                 Setting your face in the same direction with another person is what marriage is about.

A.    Whenever I do pre-marital counseling I always point out to the couple that the question the church asks on their wedding day is not “Do you love one another?” but “Will you love one another?”

1.     Will you love one another for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, in other words will you keep your faces set in the same direction in good times and in bad?

B.     Country and Western singer Josh Turner who has a strong Christian faith has a song that gets at this matter of a couple setting their faces in the same direction with these words:


Would you go with me if we rolled down streets of fire

Would you hold on to me tighter as the summer sun got higher

If we roll from town to town and never shut it down


Would you go with me if we were lost in fields of clover

Would we walk even closer until the trip was over

And would it be okay if I didn’t know the way


If I gave you my hand would you take it

And make me the happiest man in the world

If I told you my heart couldn’t beat one more minute without you girl

Would you accompany me to the edge of the sea

Let me know if you’re really a dream

I love you so, so would you go with me

III.              Now Josh Turner is singing a love song and in essence in our Gospel Lesson for today Jesus is rendering his own words of love by asking “Will you go with me?” but without the romantic overtones.

A.    This passage is the hinge to Luke’s Gospel.

1.     Everything before this is prelude but everything swings in a different direction with Luke 9:51 “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

2.     Jesus is determined and committed to journey to Jerusalem to do battle with sin and evil and death and he will not lose focus regarding what is before him.

3.     His face is set.

4.     This is no laughing matter.

5.     This is about the salvation of you and me and all other human beings and even the salvation of God’s creation.

6.     It’s going to kill him but so great is his love that he willingly will make that sacrifice.

B.     And he wants to know “Will you go with me?”

1.     I am on a mission and will you align yourself with me and my mission even though it has deathly implications?

2.     Will you drop everything else and come with me now?

C.     And some of the people Jesus asked then to go with him made excuses for why they couldn’t.

1.     Some didn’t want to give up the comforts they knew in order to follow.

2.     Others spoke of obligations to family that required them to delay.

3.     Jesus listened to them and then he said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

4.     To go with Jesus to Jerusalem is to arrive at the door by which one enters into the kingdom of God and that’s the only way in.

5.     Christians recognize that Jesus is the door because they have read John’s Gospel but Luke in his Gospel is telling us that to get to that door you have to journey with Jesus to Jerusalem.

6.     And he means that metaphorically.

7.     You don’t have to physically travel to Jerusalem to enter into the kingdom of God, but you do have to in spirit and in mission travel with Jesus.

8.     You have to go with him in prayer and in ministry.

9.     And you can’t make excuses.

10.             Jesus will forgive your sin and your failure but he is not going to except your excuses.

11.             “Will you go with me,” he asks?

D.    As I have been preparing for our fall activities I have been reflecting on the fact that basically you and I are the 100th generation since the time of Jesus.

1.     A biblical generation is 20 years so for 2,000 years which is 100 generations Jesus has been asking people “Will you go with me?”

2.     I set my face to go to Jerusalem to accomplish my Father’s will. Is your face set like mine? Are you aligned with me to accomplish our Father’s will in this day and age?

3.     If our answer isn’t yes then there’s not going to be many in the 101st generation because what we do or fail to do impacts what happens after us.

4.     And the reward of the kingdom of heaven goes thorough Jerusalem which means offering your life as a sacrifice.

5.     It’s when people hear sacrifice that they begin backpedaling and making excuses and remember that Jesus will have none of it.

E.     Like Josh Turner I don’t completely know the way that is before us here at SCUMC because I’m only human.

1.     I can see some possibilities in the way of a community afterschool program for elementary age child, and a revitalized youth ministry, and going back to the Commons for a worship service in September and a Homecoming Service in October to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the New Building.

2.     Not everything is perfectly clear to me but that’s alright because it is perfectly clear to Jesus and his face is set and he is going.

3.     Our task is to set our faces in the direction his is set and to not laugh him off like this is a radio show and to go with him.

4.     I know that summer is a time for vacation and renewal and since it is so hot outside people like to relax and take it easy.

5.     But both this scripture passage and the Holy Spirit are saying to me “It’s time to get in shape and be ready to go in the fall.”

6.     The specifics aren’t clear but the direction is and it is about fulfilling the Father’s will and Jesus is asking, “Will you go with me?”