The 24th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 28A (11/19/2017)

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.

“You wicked and lazy slave!”

This text shows up in the lectionary every three years: The Parable of the Talents. Whenever I read it I can’t help but think of the unfortunate third slave. I try to imagine this imaginary character in Jesus’ parable. Compared to the two other slaves, he seems less ambitious, less driven, less adventuresome. He seems aware of the master’s demanding nature — maybe even more acutely aware than the other two. He seems to understand that there is significant risk in investing assets that don’t belong to him, and more than a bit frightened about what might happen to him if he trades with his master’s talent and fails. I know many people — fine, faithful, decent people — who probably would identify more with this slave than his less risk-adverse co-slaves.

I can see why a wealthy homeowner would want to place the first two “in charge of many things.” Anyone who has ever managed a small business (or a large one for that matter!) knows that the more capable the leaders are, the more effective the venture will be. We even find ourselves asking that question here at Saint Peter: “Which of our members seem to have the strongest leadership gifts, and how might we invite them to use their gifts and abilities in a way that moves us closer to our stated mission as a congregation?”

It is harder to understand why the master is so harsh with this slave. He takes the responsibility of managing this asset away from him and gives it to another, which seems to make perfect sense if the master’s objective is to grow his portfolio. But calling him wicked? Lazy? Throwing him into the outer darkness? Weeping? Gnashing of teeth? How is this an appropriate response? Is this how Jesus wants us to think of God?

Of course this isn’t a parable about money management, or leveraging one’s strengths and passions. Jesus isn’t necessarily teaching us that we had better put to work whatever God has given to us in a way that multiplies it. (There are some who might contend that if, for instance, one’s gift is playing the banjo, less might actually be better than more…)

It is helpful to remember that both in Jesus’ day and in St. Matthew’s day, there was a strong need for the faithful to stand up for what was righteous and just in God’s eyes. Under significant pressure from the state, followers of Jesus found themselves both called by God to share their faith, and pressured by the powers-that-be to hide their faith. The future of the church depended on their response. Some stayed as far under the radar as they could, to escape detection. Others spoke out publicly at great personal risk. Perhaps Jesus is speaking a critical word to those who shirked their responsibilities in those days, and a word of gratitude to those who stepped up and took risks for the sake of the Gospel.

In the next passage, Jesus will say to his followers (and to us), “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.” In the final verses of St. Matthew’s Gospel he will say, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” How do we understand these two passages in light of this week’s Parable of the Talents?

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What forces opposed the early church, making it dangerous to be identified as Christian?
  2. Which early followers of Jesus were fearless and tireless in promoting their faith?
  3. How did this make a difference in the development of the Christian community?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. Who has been a model, for me, of courageous faithfulness?
  2. When have I felt called to stand up for my God and my faith?
  3. What do I do on an ongoing basis that strengthens my ability to be faithful to God’s call?

The 23rd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 27A (11/12/2017)

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.

In the Time Remaining…

Parables are strange creatures. They are disturbing; sometimes even shocking. They attempt to shake us out of our own preconceived notions about what God is up to, and bring us to a new more faithful place. This is not always an easy journey to take, and we find ourselves resisting it, sometimes with all of our might. This week’s parable might be described in just such a matter. It is a “Kingdom of Heaven” parable —designed to help us see how Jesus envisions what is important to God, and how it becomes part of our lives. (more…)

The 23rd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 27A (11/12/2017)

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.

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

All Saints Sunday; Year A (11/5/2017)

Lessons:
Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1st 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 You! Holy Are You!
Rejoice and Be Glad! Yours Is the Kingdom of God!

Whenever I consider the Beatitudes — these beautiful and powerful words with which Jesus begins his well-known “Sermon on the Mount” — I can’t help but hear David Haas’ moving 1986 worship song: “Blessed Are They.”

Make no mistake, these are hard words from Jesus: blest are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who huger for what they don’t have, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted… And finally: blessed are you when you are reviled and persecuted and spoken about falsely. Not a collection of realities on anyone’s wish list these days! How is it that Jesus considers these as the blest ones in his world?  He certainly isn’t working with the metrics of blessing that seem operative in our culture. (more…)

Reformation Sunday (10/29/2017)

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.

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 (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Happy Anniversary, You Lutherans! 

On October 31, 1517, as the story goes, a young German monk from the Augustinian order in Wittenberg, Germany made his way to the entrance of the Castle Church. On the doors there, often used as an unofficial bulletin board for the college community, he posted what has come to be known as his 95 Theses — www.luther.de/en/95thesen.html — 95 statements describing the ways in which he wanted his church, the Roman Catholic Church, to turn back to a more Biblically grounded Christian faith, and a bolder proclamation of the grace of God that can be known in Jesus Christ. (more…)

The 20th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 24A (October 22, 2017)

Lessons:
Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm 96:1-9 [10-13]
1st 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.

“Give to God the things that are God’s.”

This weekend’s Gospel lesson sounds at first like a battle of wits. These educated religious officials (disciples of the Pharisees and some Herodians) pose a theological puzzle to Jesus, and he responds with a witty answer. But as we look closely at this story we discover it is more than a gathering of religious professionals playing a trivia game. It has to do with life and faith and politics and rebellion and idolatry.

(more…)

The 19th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 23A (10/15/2017)

Lessons:
Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 23
Philippians 4:1-9
St. 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.

What About That Guy?

This weekend the lectionary features the last in a string of five parables from Jesus. Together, we have reflected on the parables of: the Unforgiving Servant, The Vineyard, The Two Sons, The Wicked Tenants, and now The Wedding Banquet. Of all of them, this weekend’s story is perhaps the most difficult. Much could be said about the parable itself: the rejection of those first invited (which reminds us of an important line from last week’s Gospel, “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.”); the extraordinary setting of this regal banquet (does anyone remember 1981?); the mistreatment of the king’s slaves; the punishment of those who harmed the slaves; the extension of the invitation to the unworthy; the notion that both “good and bad” were ultimately invited; the full wedding hall. Each of these elements of the parable is important, and could give rise to a sermon all of its own.

Regardless what we say about these matters, though, the primary response to this parable is almost universal: “What about that guy?” I don’t even have to point out which guy I’m talking about here, do I? It’s the guy without a wedding robe. He shows up with the wrong outfit on, and is treated nearly as badly as the king’s slaves. Bound hand and foot. Thrown into the darkness. Weeping and gnashing of teeth…

(more…)

The 18th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 22A (10/8/2017)

Lessons:
Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:7-15
Philippians 3:4b-14
Saint Matthew 21:33-46

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm:
Exodus 20:1-4
Psalm 19

Prayer of the Day:
Beloved God, from you come all things that are good. Lead us by the inspiration of your Spirit to know those things that are right, and by your merciful guidance, help us to do them, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

21:33  [Jesus said,] “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;

this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

St. Matthew 21:23-32, 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.

Cornerstone or Stumbling Block?

This week’s Gospel lesson contains another compelling parable from the teaching of Jesus. This time it is “The Parable of the Wicked Tenants.” Here Jesus expands on the ancient imagery of Isaiah (Isaiah 5:1-7), and makes a compelling case for faithfulness. A vineyard has been let out to tenants, who benefit from being able to raise and harvest a crop in it, but who refuse to reimburse the owner for the use of the vineyard. Multiple representatives are sent to the tenants and demand what the owner deserves, but each in turn is mistreated or murdered. Finally, the owner sends his very son, and they kill him too. (more…)

The 17th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 21A (10/1/2017)

Lessons:
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
Psalm 25:1-9
Philippians 2:1-13
St. Matthew 21:23-32

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm:
Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16

Prayer of the Day:
God of love, giver of life, you know our frailties and failings. Give us your grace to overcome them, keep us from those things that harm us, and guide us in the way of salvation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

21:23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

St. Matthew 21:23-32, 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.

The Will of the Father

I used to wonder why these two paragraphs were paired by our lectionary. It seemed to me that the first paragraph, with its narration of this dispute between Jesus and the chief priests & elders, had little to do with the second paragraph, with Jesus’ reflections on how these two sons responded to their father’s instructions. The first paragraph seemed to be about Jesus besting his adversaries in an intellectual dispute, proving his superiority. The second paragraph seemed to be about the importance of keeping promises made.

There is little doubt that Jesus and the religious officials of his day squared off time and time again. But the message of Jesus — the message that so angered his opponents, making them cry out for his death — can’t be boiled down to “it’s better to not promise and come through than to promise and not come though.” These two paragraphs are connected in a much more central way. (more…)

The 16th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 20A (9/24/2017)

Lessons:
Jonah 3:10-4:11
Psalm 145:1-8
Philippians 1:21-30
St. Matthew 20:1-16

Semicontinuous Reading and Psalm:
Exodus 16:2-15
Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty and eternal God, you show perpetual lovingkindness to us your servants. Because we cannot rely on our own abilities, grant us your merciful judgment, and train us to embody the generosity of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Lesson:

20.1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

St. Matthew 20:1-16, 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.

Pastor Dave is out of town this week, and won’t be posting a new devotional message this week. But please enjoy this encore edition of his message from September of 2014.

Grace in the Vineyard

What will the kingdom of heaven be like? I am thinking of images from a wide range of sources. Songs (especially some of the old spirituals), movies, stories, and pieces of art have all contributed to my personal vision of what the kingdom of heaven will be like. But as I try to form a picture in my mind, I can’t say that it is based on anything I have read in the Bible, because the Bible teaches us about heaven in a different way than that. (more…)