One Little Word

Where God's Word Meets God's World

Category: Devotional Messages (page 1 of 41)

Weekly Devotional Message

The First Sunday of Christmas; Year B (12/28/2014)

Lessons:
Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Psalm 148
Galatians 4:4-7
St. Luke 2:22-40

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, you wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and yet more wonderfully restored it. In your mercy, let us share the divine life of the one who came to share our humanity, Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

2.22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”  25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;  30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”  33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed-and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.  39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.


St. Luke 2:22-40, 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.

Christmas Day (12/25/2014)

Texts:
Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 98
Hebrews 1:1-4 [5-12]
St. John 1:1-14

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, you gave us your only Son to take on our human nature and to illumine the world with your light. By your grace adopt us as your children and enlighten us with your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

1.1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

St. John 1:1-14, 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.

Christmas Eve (12/24/2014)

Texts:
Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96
Titus 2:11-14
St. Luke 2:1-14 [15-20]

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, you made this holy night shine with the brightness of the true light. Grant that here on earth we may walk in the light of Jesus’ presence and in the last day wake to the brightness of his glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

2.1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see-I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,  14 ”Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

[15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.]

St. Luke 2:1-14 [15-20], 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.

Advent 4B (12/21/2014)

Lessons:
2nd Samuel 7:1-11, 16
St. Luke 1:46b-55
or Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26
Romans 16:25-27
St. Luke 1:26-38

Prayer of the Day:
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that would obstruct your mercy, that willingly we may bear your redeeming love to all the world, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

1.26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.


St. Luke 1:26-38, 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.

 

Let It Be with Me According to Your Word

Picture Mary, Mother of our Lord, in your mind. What does she look like to you? Is she a frightened young girl, perplexed by the greeting of an angel, and struggling to understand what this strange message means? Is she a serene servant of God, undisturbed by the troubles that surround her in the world, and focused only on accomplishing God’s will as Mater Domini? Is she distant and aloof, beyond the comprehension of mere humans (a light blue colored sculpture, high up on a cathedral wall)? Is she loving and attentive, swaddling her newborn son, and pondering all that has taken place in his young life?

For all the attention paid to Mary, Mother of our Lord, we really don’t know much about her. The Gospels picture her at Jesus’ birth and death, and a couple of times in between. The last mention of her takes place in the very first chapter of Acts (chapter 1; verse). After that we never hear about her again.

The richest look, though, takes place in St. Luke’s Gospel. The first two chapters are almost more Mary’s story than Jesus’ story: Gabriel’s announcement of the birth of Christ. Mary’s visit to Elizabeth (and her moving “Magnificat”). The journey to Bethlehem and Christ’s birth in the manger. The visit of angel-inspired shepherds. The presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve. Mary is pictured as perplexed, confused, faithful, resolute, obedient, prophetic, nurturing, treasuring and pondering, religious, concerned, astonished…

At the heart of St. Luke’s portrayal are the words of this week’s Gospel lesson. Mary receives a confusing and inspiring visit from an angel, announcing that she will bear the Savior to the world. We wouldn’t have blamed her for resisting like Moses (Exodus 4:13), running away like Jonah (Jonah 1:1-3) or hiding like Simon Peter (St. Matthew 26:74-75). But Mary — faithful, obedient Mary — honors God’s wishes above what must have been her own. “Let it be with me according to your word.”

These nine words tell us more about Mary than any other verse in the Bible. Faced with living in first century culture as an unmarried pregnant teenager, wondering how her neighbors and her betrothed might respond, she puts aside any fears and concerns she might have had and announces her willingness to follow God’s will no matter what. “Let it be with me according to your word.”

It’s no wonder she has been an inspiration to millions of believers over the years. To open ourselves to God’s will is no small thing. When called to stand for what is righteous and faithful, we can find ourselves drawn to the model of Moses and Jonah and Peter. But Mary offers us the possibility of another way. As we contemplate her faithfulness this week, may we imagine ourselves as faithful and obedient. Let us consider responding, as she did, with: “Let it be with me according to your word.”

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What aspect(s) of following God’s will must have been difficult for Mary to embrace?
  2. What might she have understood, at the beginning, of what she was being asked to do?
  3. What prepared her to honor God’s word with her life?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. When have I found myself resisting God’s will in my own life?
  2. What resources do I use, as I try to discover God’s will for me?
  3. Who could partner with me in searching for God’s will, and becoming accountable to it?

Advent 3B (12/14/2014)

Lessons:
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126
or St. Luke 1:46b-55
1st Thessalonians 5:16-24
St. John 1:6-8, 19-28

Prayer of the Day:
Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God, and open our ears to the words of your prophets, that, anointed by your Spirit, we may testify to your light; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

1.6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ ” as the prophet Isaiah said.

24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.


St. John 1:6-8, 19-28, 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.

John: Not the Greatest…

Charles Kirkpatrick tells a story about a little boy who walked out into the backyard wearing his baseball cap and carrying a ball and bat. “I’m the greatest hitter in the world,” he said. Then he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it, and missed. “Strike One!” he yelled. He picked up the ball and said again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Again, he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it and missed. “Strike Two!” he cried. The boy looked at his bat and ball, straightened his cap and said again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” A third time he tossed the ball up and swung at it. He missed again. “Strike Three!” The little boy picked up the ball, looked at it, and cried out in a loud voice, “I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”

I wonder how many of us can identify with this little boy. I used to imagine holding down a spot on the professional golf tour. (A persistent slice that often left me a fairway or two to the right eventually cured me of that fantasy…) There have been days when I’ve pictured myself as a world class fly caster, or one of the best husbands/fathers ever, or a renowned preacher. Perhaps you’ve enjoyed fleeting moments like this too. It probably is true for many of us.

Not so much for St. John, the Baptizer. There were undoubtedly those who thought otherwise. John’s ministry of introspection, confession, forgiveness and new beginnings was profound for people. It left some of them believing that he was the greatest. Some Biblical scholars speculate that by the time the Gospels were written (most likely between a.d. 70 and a.d. 100), there still were bands of believers who thought of themselves as disciples of John. The people may have misunderstood, but John was clear. In this week’s lesson we read: “I am not the Messiah.” (v. 20) “I am not [Elijah].” (v. 21) I am not the prophet. (v. 21)

Who was John? “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness.” (v. 23) “The one who baptizes [only] with water.” (v. 26-27) The one who knew that his role was important — in some ways more important than any of the prophets who came before him — but secondary. Secondary to the One for whom God’s people had been waiting. Secondary to the One who would baptize, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit. Secondary to the One whose life and death and resurrection would become a source of new life for centuries to come.

St. John teaches us what it means to live with humility. By all accounts he was bold, aggressive, brash, insistent, compelling, determined… but he never lost sight of who he was. He never imagined himself to be more than God had called him to be. He never forgot the greatest meaning in his life was that he had been caught up into something far greater than himself — the story of the birth of the Messiah, the Son of God.

May we live with that same humility. May we never lose sight of who we are. And may we always remember that we too have been caught up into something far greater than ourselves: the love of God that has come to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. Who did the people imagine John to be?
  2. What aspects of his ministry must have inspired them to think in these ways?
  3. How did John’s humility — and self-awareness — make him even more compelling?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What role has God called my to play in this world?
  2. What might it mean for me to have the same strength and humility as John had?
  3. How might that give witness to Christ, who makes all things possible?

Advent 2B (12/7/2014)

Lessons:
Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2nd Peter 3:8-15a
St. Mark 1:1-8

Prayer of the Day:
Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming strengthen us to serve you with purified lives; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

8.1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ ” 4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”


St. Mark 1:1-8, 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.

Beginning the Good News

“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” This is the first verse of the first chapter of the first Gospel account in our Bible. Sure, St. Matthew comes first in the order of the New Testament; but St. Mark was written as many as twenty years before St. Matthew was (perhaps shortly after a.d. 70 as opposed to shortly after a.d. 90). Sure, some scholars argue that these first thirteen words (seven words in the original Greek language) were intended, by St. Mark, to be the title of the work, not its first verse; but the way they drive us into the story makes them seem more like the story’s beginning than its cover page. Only thirteen words in St Mark before John the Baptist is on the scene, while St. Matthew and St. Luke wind their way through two full chapters before they get to this point in the story.

St. Mark doesn’t have time for genealogies, Mary & Joseph, Zechariah & Elizabeth, angels & dreams, the birth story, shepherds & barnyard animals, wise men, a cruel king, an escape to Egypt, and trips to Jerusalem for worship… He needs to get this story started, and so he does, abruptly and purposefully: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Continue reading

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.

And We Begin Again

There is a rhythm to the liturgical church calendar. It begins with the season of Advent; four weeks of preparing ourselves for the announcement of the Messiah’s birth. It continues with the seasons that follow: Christmas (the celebration of Christ’s nativity), Epiphany (a focus on how God is revealed to the world, especially through Christ), Lent (repentance, and forgiveness and Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem), Holy Week (the passion of Christ and the mystery of salvation), Easter (a week of Sundays, celebrating the good news of the resurrection), and then the long time in between, sometimes called “The Sundays after Pentecost” — thought of as a time when we explore what it means to be claimed by the Gospel and called to faithful living — but technically not a season in and of itself.

We have just reached the end of this particular in between time. With parables drawing our attention to the end of the ages (The Foolish Maidens, The Talents, The Great Judgment), Jesus reminds us that just as every church year comes to an end, so will the history of this world, and in that ending there will be hope for God’s people. With this message comes the realization that we live in another kind of “in between time.” In between the time when Israel looked for (and experienced) the arrival of the Messiah, and the time when we look for (and hope to experience) Christ as he returns to bring history to a close, is the “in between” time when we look for the ways Christ comes into our hearts today, deepening our trust in the promises of God, and strengthening our resolve to live in ways that bear witness to our faith. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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.” Continue reading

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