I am sure that all of you have been absent from school. As you know, when a child is absent from school, his parents must write an excuse so that the school will know why the child was absent. Sometimes the excuses are pretty hard to believe and sometimes they can be very funny. I have some notes this morning that are good examples of excuses that parents have written for their children.
"Please excuse Josh for being absent. I forgot to wake him up and I did not find him until I started making the beds -- by then it was too late for him to go to school."
"John didn't come to school yesterday because he was feeling like he was going to be sick. Thankfully, he wasn't!"
"Please excuse Janet's absence from school. It was Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Since I don't have a job, I made her stay home and do housework."
"Please excuse Ricky from school yesterday. He spilled gasoline on his stomach and I was afraid he might explode."
This one is my all-time favorite!
"Please excuse Mary for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch and when we found it on Monday, we thought it was Sunday."
Making excuses is not new. People even made excuses in Jesus' day. One day, Jesus was walking along the road with a group of people. Jesus turned to one of the men and said to him, "Follow me."
The man answered, "First let me go and bury my father."
That sounds like a good excuse, but we don't even know that the man's father was dead. He may have wanted to wait until his father died before he began to follow Jesus.
Jesus answered him, "Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
Jesus then turned to another man in the crowd and said, "Follow me."
The man answered, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go back home and say goodbye to my family."
Jesus did not like this man's excuse either. He said to him, "No man who starts to plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Jesus was calling those who would give up everything -- family, friends, their job -- and follow him. What he got instead was excuses.
Jesus is still calling today, "Follow me!" Will you follow, or will you make excuses?
Our Father, when Jesus call us to follow him, may we never offer excuses. Instead, may we be willing to give up everything and follow. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.