Post Road Pilgrims, a sermon by the Rev. Dawn Stegelmann, September 8, 2019

Dawn Stegelmann September 8, 2019
Saint Luke’s, Darien Luke 14:25-33

Post Road Pilgrims

On this beautiful September Sunday, here we are gathered outside on the corner of the Post Road and Rings End Road to reunite our parish community after our summer travels and adventures. This is a historic location. In the early days of the 17th Century, this Post Road was just a narrow wilderness trail between New York and Boston. It started out as the postal route between the two cities. It wasn’t long before others started traveling on it by horseback and stagecoach as well. It would have taken close to a month to make the round trip, so travelers would have needed food and shelter. Almost like a pilgrimage route, inns, restaurants, businesses and small towns began to appear to accommodate the travelers and growing population. After George Washington was elected president, he traveled the Post Road—and would have passed right by here—but several decades before St. Luke’s was built.

Since 1855, our church has had its home along the Post Road. I doubt the Post Road was ever considered a pilgrimage route, but over the years there’s been no lack of churches built along the way to offer community members and travelers sacred spaces and hospitality.

As we worship and picnic on the grounds today, let’s take a moment and offer thanks for all those who have come before us, who traveled here on foot, by horseback and by buggy.

Now think about all of us who came here this morning.
What brings us here this fall?
What do we seek and need this morning?
What can St. Luke’s provide to you?
And what can you offer to St. Luke’s?

And finally, let’s pray for those who have yet to come. Who will travel on this Post Road and find their way into our church and our community to have their faith ignited, nourished, renewed and empowered.

When I think about the large crowds traveling with Jesus who are mentioned in today’s Gospel, I wonder what kind of road they were on. Where had them come from?
Where did they think they were going?
They must have been on a route that could accommodate all of them and where they had access to food and shelter.

I can’t help but think of that image of Tom Hanks’ character, Forrest Gump, who turns and sees the long road behind him filled with people who had left their homes to start running across the country with him. But unlike Forrest Gump, who simply says to them that he’s done running, Jesus turns to the crowd and speaks bluntly about the cost of discipleship. He tells them what’s really required if they want to keep following him and be a disciple.

There’s no side-stepping what Jesus is saying today. A decision is required—and the cost of discipleship is ultimately everyone and everything—even our own lives. I don’t know why Jesus uses the term “hate” in reference to loved ones. I have no desire to explain it away except to say the Bible also tells us there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Love is the antidote to hate. If we love one another as Christ loves us, there is no reason to hate. But if there is someone or something that does get in the way and tries to harm our loving relationship with God, Jesus suggests we must sit down, estimate the cost and look for terms of peace.

Today, can we think about being life-long disciples-in-training? Post Road Pilgrims who happen to be at this place and time at St. Luke’s? It’s unlikely our journey began or will end at St. Luke’s. But we can be Post Road Pilgrims on the Way with Jesus, trying to do our best to listen and to follow him here with one another and in this community.

When we seek and see Christ in one another with open hearts and minds, there is no need for hate. Engaging in trusting relationships and continuing to learn new things both happen here at St. Luke’s. Here, we try out what it means to be Christ’s hands and feet for one another. It is where we can continue to learn, experience—and consider the costs AND blessings—of following Jesus.

Let’s keep following Jesus this fall. Yes, we’ll stumble at times. We’ll make mistakes. We’ll say the wrong thing. But when we are called to true discipleship, our eyes are on Christ so we can recognize him in the people and possessions that he first gave to us.

This morning, we stand on the countless shoulders of those who came up and down this Post Road from generation to generation, especially those who made St. Luke’s their spiritual home. Let’s continue to make it a place where Heaven and Earth come closer together. Let’s continue to make it a place where Love finds a home. Let’s offer thanks that it is our home along the way.