One Little Word

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Category: Devotional Messages (page 1 of 40)

Weekly Devotional Message

Advent 1B (11/30/2014)

Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1st Corinthians 1:3-9
St. Mark 13:24-37

Prayer of the Day:
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection waken us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and keep us blameless until the coming of your new day, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

13:24 “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.

34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake-for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”


St. Mark 13:24-37, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

A devotional message based on this text will be posted by Tuesday evening.

National Day of Thanksgiving (Nov. 27, 2014)

Lessons:
Deuteronomy 8:7-18
Psalm 65
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
St. Luke 17:11-19

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God our Father, your generous goodness comes to us new every day. By the work of your Spirit lead us to acknowledge your goodness, give thanks for your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

17:11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”


St. Luke 17:11-19, New Revised Version Bible © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

The Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King Sunday; Year A (November 23, 2014)

Lessons:
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 95:1-7a
Ephesians 1:15-23
St. Matthew 25:31-46

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm:
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100

Prayer of the Day:
O God of power and might, your Son shows us the way of service, and in him we inherit the riches of your grace. Give us the wisdom to know what is right and the strength to serve the world you have made, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

[Jesus said] 25.31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”


St. Matthew 25:31-46, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

 

Following a Crucified King

What does it mean to call Christ our king? It seems that king is a hard metaphor for us to get our brains around these days. We’ve never had a king here in the United States. And the few kings that we know about seem to be either brutal dictators or insignificant figureheads. Yet on this Sunday, we call Christ our king, and contemplate what it might mean to live in his kingdom.

The classic image of a king brings to mind a ruler with power and might. The king ruled over the entire kingdom, and all of its subjects. Those who considered themselves citizens of that kingdom dedicated themselves to serving their king. When he gave a command, all loyal subjects responded. Whether it was serving in the military, paying taxes, obeying laws, or observing customs… the loyal citizen obeyed without a second thought.

In the Gospel lesson this weekend, we too are called to serve our king. But the kind of service into which we are invited is a service much different from that of earthly kingdoms. Our king is one who rules with grace and love, not with military might or political coercion. Our king is one who is concerned for the needs of the most vulnerable members of society. Our king is one who is willing to die for his subjects. And in this Gospel lesson, he informs us of a remarkable reality: whenever we reach out to meet their needs, we have reached out to him.

In the fifth chapter of St. Matthew, at the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus describes what lies at the heart of the community of faith. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart…” We read these words together just a couple weeks ago. Now, towards the close of his earthy life, Jesus describes what this will look like. The community of faith is one that gives food to the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, welcomes the stranger, clothes the naked, cares for the sick, and visits the imprisoned. And what is most remarkable: when we do so, we do so to Jesus, himself.

One aspect of this parable has always intrigued me. It is interesting how neither the righteous nor the unrighteous are aware of having served or having neglected Jesus. They don’t set out to minister to him or to neglect him. Instead, the very character of their lives is such that it leads them to minister to him or to ignore him. This reminds us that God doesn’t want us to set aside time now and again to serve poor, hungry, thirsty, naked and sick prisoners. God wants a servant’s attitude to be woven through the entire fabric of our whole lives. We, like those individuals in Jesus’ Great Judgment Parable, are called to be so deeply rooted in the Gospel, and so profoundly committed to lives of service, that we instinctively reach out to the needs of the community that surrounds us. Not because by doing so we hope to please God, but because that’s the kind of people we have become.

Let us seek the guidance of God’s Spirit, as we discern the ways in which we hope to make a difference in the world around us. Let us take advantage of the opportunities God has provided for us to care for the needy ones of our world: through the time and finances we give to our home congregations, through the support we offer to other organizations that are busy doing God’s work, and through the time and energy we give directly to the communities in which we live. And may we, like those righteous ones in Jesus’ parable, live in such a way that we become God’s blessing to all those who find themselves in time of need.

Amen.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What does this parable of judgment say about the life of faith?
  2. Why does Jesus claim that his followers minister to him when they minister to the needy?
  3. Why are some surprised to be included… and some to be excluded?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What place does community service play in the life of my congregation?
  2. What have I done to meet the needs of those who live in my community?
  3. What gifts has God given me that I could use to benefit others?

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 28A (November 16, 2014)

Lessons:
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Psalm 90:1-8 [9-11], 12
1st Thessalonians 5:1-11
St. Matthew 25:14-30

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm
Judges 4:1-7
Psalm 123

Prayer of the Day:
Righteous God, our merciful master, you own the earth and all its peoples, and you give us all that we have. Inspire us to serve you with justice and wisdom, and prepare us for the joy of the day of your coming, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

25.14 [Jesus said] “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ”


St. Matthew 25:14-30, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Faithfulness, Fearfulness and the Nature of God

Three slaves. Eight talents. (By some estimates, in first century life, a talent was equal to nine years worth of wages for a skilled laborer.) The first slave receives five talents. The second slave receives two talents. The third slave receives one talent.

We see that the first two slaves have similar experiences. At once, they go and trade with their talents. They double their investment. The master returns “after a long time” and settles accounts with them. Quite pleased with them, the master responds to each slave: “Well done… you have been trustworthy… enter into the joy of your master.”

The third slave has a much different experience. He digs a hold in the ground, protects what has been entrusted to him, and returns it in full to the master. The master is deeply displeased, and announces: “You are wicked and lazy… you ought to have (at least) invested my money… take it away from him and throw him out.”

What is the difference between the first two and the third one? Some have concluded that this is a harsh and demanding master, and the slaves are treated in accordance with how successfully they have invested the master’s money. The inference here is the more they make, the happier their master is. But it is curious to notice that the first two slaves don’t describe their master as harsh and demanding. Only the third slave describes him this way, and he isn’t exactly lifted up as a model to follow in this parable…

What if we were to think of this from a different point of view? Jesus tells us that when the coins are entrusted to these three, the first two “went off at once and traded with them.” But he doesn’t actually tell us why. The Greek word for “at once” is εὐθέως (eutheos) and means “immediately.” This word is used often in the New Testament, and it usually refers to something that is important, and in accordance with God’s purpose. Perhaps these slaves aren’t investing out of a sense of fear for what might happen if they are unsuccessful investors. Perhaps they are trading these coins eagerly, enthusiastically, and motivated to make the kind of difference in the world that their master likes to make.

It may very well be that these slaves aren’t treated based on the specific return the master received from their investments. It may have more to do with their understanding of what this master enjoys, and their desire to do as their master does. One could even imagine a slave trading with these talents, losing it all, and being praised for having given it his best.

This, at least, would account for the commendation each of them receives: “enter into the joy of your master.”

If this is the case, the operative question is: “what gives joy to the master?” Not a bad question for us to be asking. If God is our master, and the one who has entrusted to us everything we have, what gives joy to our God? And how might we manage our resources in a way that is pleasing to God?

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How does each slave seem to understand the nature of the master?
  2. What is most commendable about what they do?
  3. What is Jesus saying to his listeners about faithfulness?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How do I understand the nature of God?
  2. How does my understanding of God shape my words and actions?
  3. What might I plan to do today that could be pleasing to God?

The Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 27A (November 9, 2014)

Lessons:
Amos 5:18-24 or Wisdom 6:12-16
Psalm 70 or Wisdom 6:17-20
1st Thessalonians 4:13-18
St. Matthew 25:1-13

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm:
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
Psalm 78:1-7

Prayer of the Day:
O God of justice and love, you illumine our way through life with the words of your Son. Give us the light we need, and awaken us to the needs of others, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

[Jesus said]  25.1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”


St. Matthew 25:1-13, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Five of Them Were Foolish, and Five Were Wise

This week’s parable is about judgment, as are the other parables in St. Matthew’s “judgment section” — Unfaithful Slave: 24:43-51; Ten Bridesmaids: 25:1-13; Talents: 25:14-30; Great Judgment: 25:31-46. These parables, taken together, are about an ultimate “sorting out” that takes place, separating the faithful from the unfaithful. In the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, the five who prepare themselves for the long wait (they bring extra oil for themselves) are welcomed into the banquet, while those who don’t prepare themselves (they don’t bring enough oil) are left out of the celebrating.

Why does Jesus tell this story? After all, so many of his other stories have to do with undeserved kindness. The Prodigal Son is welcomed home by the father. The Samaritan Woman at the well is promised living water. A sinful woman who barges in on a party in the home of a Pharisee is forgiven and instructed to “go in peace.” These seem to be included in what Jesus is accomplishing, despite the fact that they don’t deserve it. So why, in this parable, does Jesus indicate that what one does (bringing extra oil) determines whether or not one is included (in the wedding banquet)?

The unique aspect of this particular story is the delay of the bridegroom.

First century wedding celebrations often included a bit of game-playing. The guests would gather outside the reception hall and wait for the arrival of the bridegroom. Sometimes the bridegroom would arrive right away, and at other times he would wait until well into the night to show up. The goal of the bridegroom was to surprise the bridesmaids, and catch some of them unprepared. The goal of the bridesmaids was to be ready at any time to trim their lamps and enter into the festivities. In this story, the bridegroom doesn’t show up until after midnight — surprising everybody (and most of all, the foolish bridesmaids). Not only did the bridesmaids have to be ready, but they had to be ready over the long haul — ready for the bridegroom to delay his arrival even until after midnight.

Which is exactly what is happening during the time when St. Matthew wrote his Gospel. Many first-generation Christians had come to believe that Jesus would return before the end of their lives to bring all of creation to a conclusion. But by the early nineties (when many scholars suspect Matthew wrote this account), decades have passed since the resurrection, and Christians are beginning to wonder, “How long will this take? We thought it was only a matter of months, but…”

In a time of adjusting to the “delayed” return of the Messiah, these words of Jesus become important to St. Matthew. They don’t suggest that time is short, and believers ought to hurry up and get prepared before it is too late (a common mis-interpretation in our time). Instead, they suggest that the faithful Christian is in it for the long-haul, not the short-haul. The focus of a faithful Christian life is not living in fear that the end might come any moment (although, in fact, it may). The focus of a faithful Christian life has to do with preparing well, and being ready for a lifetime of faithfulness.

So how is it that we prepare well? How is it that we are like the wise bridesmaids who take “flasks of oil with their lamps?” How might we, in the words of the old Spiritual, “Keep your lamps trimmed and burning?” We commit ourselves to daily prayer and Bible study. We allow weekly worship with God’s people to play a central role in the rhythm of our lives. We commit ourselves to lives of love and service to our neighbor. We stretch ourselves to become generous people. We gather regularly to encourage one another in faith. We practice these habits of discipleship, and build up the store of faith and trust that we will need for the long-haul.

The question is not, “Will we be included or excluded?” The question is, “How will each of us develop the resources we’ll need for a life of faithfulness in Christ’s name?” Thanks be to God who calls us to this life, and through the Holy Spirit strengthens us for the journey.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What do the ten bridesmaids all have in common?
  2. What distinguishes the five from the five?
  3. How might Jesus’ listeners have understood this story differently than St. Mathew’s readers did?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. Do I tend to think more in the short-term (Christ is coming soon…) or the long-term (I hope to stay faithful for years to come…)?
  2. What discipleship habits or faith practices have helped to strengthen my faithfulness?
  3. What habits or practices do I want to strengthen in this coming year?

All Saints Sunday; Year A (November 2, 2014)

Lessons:
Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
Saint Matthew 5:1-12

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lesson:

5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

St. Matthew 5:1-12, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Blessed Are They

In the congregation where I grew up, All Saints Sunday was a time to read the names of those who had died in the previous twelve months, while a solemn bell tolled in the background. My grandmother’s name was read when I was twelve years old — I still can feel the agony of waiting for her name (she died on New Year’s Day, but the names were read alphabetically), and the pain of hearing her included in the list of those who were gone. To this day, I have a visceral reaction to that litany. It seemed then, and it seems now, more a “litany of woe” than a “litany of celebration.” Continue reading

Reformation Sunday; Year A (October 26, 2014)

Lessons:
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 46 (7)
Romans 3:19-28
St. John 8:31-36

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lesson:

8:31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.


St. John 8:31-36. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Reformed or Reforming?

On October 31, 1517, the evening before All Saints’ Day (then referred to as All Hallowed’s Eve; now as Halloween), when the city of Wittenberg, Germany was teeming with Christian pilgrims who had traveled there to celebrate the festival, Martin Luther made a trip to the entrance doors of the Castle Church. Long used as the official bulletin board of the University, he nailed on them a bulletin of his own: the Ninety-five Theses, a statement of his objections to some of the practices of the church in his day. Continue reading

The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 24A (October 19, 2014)

Lessons:
Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm 96:1-9 [10-13]
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
St. Matthew 22:15-22

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm:
Exodus 33:12-23
Psalm 99

Prayer of the Day:
Sovereign God, raise your throne in our hearts. Created by you, let us live in your image; created for you, let us act for your glory; redeemed by you, let us give you what is yours, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

22:15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 16 So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

St. Matthew 22:15-21, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Jesus and Taxes

“Come on back this Wednesday, and we’ll focus on what Jesus thinks about taxes.” That was my announcement last Sunday. The obvious first reaction, during this heated political season, was to wonder if Jesus is for more taxes or fewer taxes; bigger government or smaller government. After all, the question posed to him in this middle section of Matthew 22 is: “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” Continue reading

The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 23A (October 12, 2014)

Lessons:
Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 23
Philippians 4:1-9
Saint Matthew 22:1-14

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm:
Exodus 32:1-14
Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23

Prayer of the Day:
Lord of the feast, you have prepared a table before all peoples and poured out your life with abundance. Call us again to your banquet. Strengthen us by what is honorable, just and pure, and transform us into a people of righteousness and peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

22.1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”


St. Matthew 22:1-14, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
An Invitation

The Parable of the Wedding Feast. The anger of the king. The rejection (even destruction) of those whose response is inadequate. At first glance, this is an incredibly difficult parable to understand. We find ourselves with so many questions: Continue reading

The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 10C (October 5, 2014)

“God’s work. Our hands.” Emphasis:
First Lesson: St. Matthew 25:31-46
Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 10:25-37

Prayer of the Day:
O Lord God, your mercy delights us and the world longs for your loving care. Hear the cries of everyone in need, and turn our hearts to love our neighbors with the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lessons:

10:25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”


St. Luke 10:25-37, New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Who Is My Neighbor?

What is he thinking, this Samaritan? He is known by many as the Good Samaritan, but perhaps he is more foolish than good. Traveling that dangerous stretch of road between Jerusalem and Jericho, he happens upon a fellow traveler who has been stripped and beaten by a gang of robbers. They leave him, half dead, on the side of the road.

Others happen upon the same scene, including a priest and a Levite; two religious professionals. Their response is much more reasonable. They understand the dangers (those robbers may have been lying in wait, just beyond the bushes). They honor their responsibility to God’s people (nobody who comes in contact with a dead person can worship without first being ritually cleansed, and God’s people need them to lead worship at the Temple). They choose to pass by on the other side.

Not this Samaritan. What he does is dangerous, impractical, expensive and disruptive. Continue reading

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