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The Real Deal

(a sermon for October 25, 2020, the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, based on Matthew 22:34-46)

There’s no pretty way of saying this, so best to come right out with it:  our text this morning represents a fervent effort to expose Jesus as a fake! 

It’s true; our reading this morning from Matthew is in fact the culmination of several attempts on the part of the religious “powers-that-be” of the time – the Pharisees and the Sadducees – to question Jesus’ authority and to seek to discredit him amongst the people.  And in all honesty, looking at it from their perspective who could blame them for trying? 

Remember, all of this is taking place soon after Jesus has made his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, which in and of itself was pretty much a subversive act; and then almost immediately, Jesus turns over the tables of moneychangers in the temple, he curses a fig tree as though to put the whole religious establishment on notice, and then he goes on to tell at least three parables that were thinly veiled denunciations of the so-called righteousness of said “powers-that-be!”  It’s no coincidence that no sooner than Jesus had finished his teaching, those who would put Jesus to the test started to arrive, and not kindly: isn’t it true, after all, in the words of Alyce McKenzie, that “when those with prestige and position are challenged, when their presuppositions are upturned, they react with hostility and fear?”  Better, they reason, to try to trip Jesus up with impossible questions and humiliate him in front of all the people than perhaps actually have to listen to what Jesus is saying and realize that maybe the world – and they – will need to change because of it; in other words, if Jesus is made to look like a fake, then he goes away, life goes on and the status quo is maintained.

And like I said before, I understand; I get why they would do that; because the truth is, I’ve lived it.  And so, I’m guessing, have you.

Pastorally speaking, it’s there in the experience of having someone tell you that they’d never go to church because it’s filled with hypocrites; or else, when they let you know that while God is very well and good, they’ve got a real problem with “organized religion” (at which point, I am always tempted – but never quite dare – to reply, well, then, why not try our church, because we haven’t managed to get ourselves organized yet!).  More seriously, I hear it from those who tend to back themselves far away from faith because of all the sorrow and suffering that goes on in the world; why would a just and loving God ever let that happen, they reason.  And besides, they’ll say, aren’t there “extremists” to be found in every kind of religious tradition, and isn’t that really the problem in the world today?

So friends, I can certainly attest to the fact that in this modern era, just as in every one that’s come before, there will always be those who would seek to put Jesus to the test; people in the midst of the predominant culture and the politics of the time who would look at what we believe, what we stand for and who we follow, and wonder if it truly is “the real deal,” so to speak, or if there’s a way to be found to have it simply… all go away.

What’s interesting is that leading up to our reading for this morning, the Sadducees and Pharisees had been doing their dead level best for exactly that to happen!  First, in order “to entrap” Jesus, the Pharisees “sent their disciples” (aka, their lackeys!) to ask a question about taxes being paid to the emperor (Matt. 21:17).  And then the Sadducees, who were famous for not believing in resurrection, came along to try to trip Jesus on a tricky question about what would happen in the afterlife if one widow ended up married to more than one brother in a family!  It was all about creating a conundrum, an impossible riddle for Jesus to solve; but each time they try it, Jesus not only avoids the trap, but does so with theological depth and finesse.  In short, their attempts to paint Jesus as nothing but a charlatan and rabble rouser, so far had failed miserably.

But then they decided, why not get to the heart of the matter; this time, the Pharisees would come to Jesus in person and ask of him a single question; one that, by the way, happened to be a pretty common topic amongst the faithful of Jesus’ time:  “Teacher,” one of them asked (and you have to know that the title of “teacher” was dripping with what is often referred to these days as snarkiness!), “which commandment of the law is the greatest?”   It was the perfect question, at least as far as the Pharisees were concerned: they figured that whatever commandment that Jesus chose, they could then assume that apparently Jesus didn’t really care much about the other nine; and so then they could proclaim to everybody in Jerusalem that not only was this Jesus a flagrant commandment breaker, but a blasphemer as well (truthfully, I have to imagine that at the end of this proclamation, they’d end with their own 1st century Palestinian version of “we’re your scribes and Pharisees, and we approved this message!”).  Simply put, no matter how Jesus responded, they’d have the goods on him at last.

But then Jesus answered the question. 

And the answer was… brilliant.  “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This,” Jesus says, “is the greatest and first commandment.”  And, by the way, it pretty much sums up the first five of the Ten Commandments; covering false worship, idols, taking God’s name in vain, keeping the Sabbath, and honoring one’s parents.  And Jesus isn’t done:  “And a second is like it:” he goes on, “‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  That would pretty well cover the second five commandments – that is, lying, stealing, coveting, adultery, false witness and murder – thus bringing all ten commandments into one razor sharp focus; or as Jesus concludes, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

I would have loved to been there to see the Pharisees’ reaction; because whether they were willing to admit it or not, Jesus had not only avoided the trap they’d set for him, but he’d also answered their question correctly; deep down, they knew Jesus was right!  The Pharisees, remember, were all about the law; specifically, following the law to the letter; and to be fair to them, following the law to the letter was for them an act of great and pious faith!  But now here’s Jesus, to remind them that at the heart of all that law and deep in the midst of its interpretation and practice, is to be the one simple truth of LOVE.  Loving God… and loving people.  In the words of Hillel, an ancient teacher of the Jewish faith, it’s all about loving God and loving people; “the rest is commentary.” Every law, every rule, every custom and tradition we have, every act of piety we embrace as people of faith pretty much comes down to – or ought to come down to – LOVE.  And it’s LOVE, you see, that ultimately reveals Jesus – and our Christian faith – as “the real deal;” as something neither fake nor transitory nor empty in the face of the struggles faced in this world, but rather, in fact, that which is “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

Now, I know that as we look at this story, this all comes off as a pretty basic tenet of our Christian faith, does it not; I mean, if it isn’t all about loving God and loving our neighbor, then what is it that we really stand for as Christians or as the church?  But the fact is, this story of the Scribes and Pharisees’ challenge to Jesus actually raises for each one of us an important issue; and that’s whether or not we really understand how central love is to who we are and what we do?  Because in truth, the reason that there are many out there who are suspicious of faith and of those of us who espouse faith is that they don’t always see, or feel, or experience the love through us or in us!  What is that famous quote from Mahatma Ghandi:  “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”   That sounds harsh – and it is – but how are we ever to convey to the world the truth of our Christian faith if we ourselves are not “the real deal” where love is concerned?

The late Marcus Borg, the renowned Biblical Scholar and theologian, has written that so often “we have made being Christian very complex, as if it’s about getting our doctrines right.  But being Christian,” Borg says, “is actually very simple, even breathtakingly simple.”  And basically, it comes down to this: being Christian is about loving God and loving what God loves; and what God loves is the world… “not just you and me, not just Christians, not even just human beings, but the whole of creation.” 

Being Christian is about our working with God to become that kind of person; understanding of course, that we’re not talking about love in some sort of passive sense, but love actively; doing what we can do to be about the business of God’s love in the world: bringing light into darkness, lifting up the fallen and bringing them hope, doing justice in the places and amongst the people where “the power of politics, and the politics of power” seem to reign supreme.  It’s about living unto the love we have for God by letting it be transformed into the love we show for others; a simple thought, to be sure, but where the law and the prophets are concerned – as well as the mission of the church and, might I add, our own Christian walk, yours and mine – it’s where everything starts and on which its success truly hinges.

You might have noticed that there’s a brief postscript to our reading this morning, in which Jesus essentially turns the tables on the Pharisees by offering up a test of his own.  The question has to do with the Pharisee’s own interpretation of whose son the Messiah is supposed to be, and the exchange ends on a rather ominous note:  “No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any questions.”   It was the kind of exchange that those involved in the art of debate live for – the “drop the mic” moment, as it were (!) – the final, definitive statement that shuts down all further argument.  Of course, we know the gospel story and understand that once the Pharisees had retreated, the inevitable plan for Jesus’ death had already begun to unfold; so in a larger sense, the ending of these tests signaled the beginning of something even more crucial. 

Actually, read on in Matthew and it’s all there:  will we keep our lamps burning in anticipation of the kingdom to come?  Will we be investing our talents for the sake of the Master?  Will we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned?  Will we truly love our neighbor as ourselves, loving God by doing so?  And will we walk with Jesus, even if that walk inevitably leads to the cross?  Will our faith, our love, our loyalty be as fleeting as that of the disciples when they scattered, or will people see in us true faith, and know that we are “the real deal?”

Seems to me that that’s a test of a whole other sort!

Let us pray that as the test unfolds in our own lives this week, we’ll be able to say that we passed!

So might it be; and thanks be to God!

Amen and AMEN!

© 2020 Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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Nurturing a Good Name

(a sermon for October 11, 2020, the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, based on Proverbs 22:1-11)

While going through some scrapbooks and photo albums up at my mother’s house this week, I came across something I literally hadn’t thought about in years:  clippings from the newspaper column I wrote for a couple of years in our hometown’s little weekly paper, The Katahdin Journal. Now, that’s not quite as impressive as it might sound: basically, I was a high school reporter and the column was a weekly conglomeration of basketball scores, student events and teacher interviews.  But I do have to say it was kind of neat; since in those days I fancied myself as a latter-day John-Boy Walton, writing something that actually ended up in print was quite a thrill for me, and the admittedly minor notoriety it garnered me in my home town wasn’t bad either! 

It was fun to read some of that stuff again, but what really made me laugh came at the end of my weekly report.  You see, early on I got into the habit of ending each column with a “quotable quote.”  And the quote was usually along the lines of this: “Until next week, think about this: ‘To get ahead in life, don’t stare up the steps, step up the stairs!’”  Or, “Till next time, ask yourself this question: ‘Is your mind open, or is it just vacant?’”  Just little one-line bits of wisdom that I’d scoured out of quotation books and my family’s small collection of Ideals magazines!  In retrospect, it was kind of an early foray into church newsletter writing, and yes… I’ll admit, it was a little cornball!   But as it turned out, it also was quite popular! 

In fact, what I started to find out was that the thing people remembered most about what I’d written were these silly little quotes I’d stuck in the last paragraph!  People regularly started asking me about those quotes and where I’d found them; and even the newspaper editor confessed to me that if on a particular week he had to cut it out for lack of space, he’d inevitably get a phone call from an irate reader asking where it was!  But the best thing of all was that I’d go over to friends’ houses and I’d often see these tiny little clippings from the end of my column on their refrigerator doors! 

It got to the point where I ended up spending nearly as much time finding good quotes as I did writing the column (I even managed to get a couple of Bible verses in there; which was quite a trick, considering the decidedly non-religious nature of my editor at the time!).  I suppose that it was an early indicator that my destiny did not lie in the world of hard-core journalism but rather behind a pulpit; but it was also a small lesson in the truth that people need, want and appreciate some encouragement in their lives, even when that encouragement comes in the form of a “pithy” little saying.

To put this another way, we all need some proverbs for our lives… and that’s what our text for this morning is all about.

By definition, friends, proverbs are short, one-sentence bits of wisdom drawn from everyday human experience, and they are intended to help us find our way in a confusing world.  Or as the Alyce McKenzie of Perkins School of Theology has said it, “proverbs help to create order and reliability in an often unreliable world.”  Historically speaking, Biblical scholars believe that what we know as the Book of Proverbs arose during a time of great social upheaval and moral dissolution in Israel, a period when society was rife with corruption and moral weakness; which means that a great deal of what we read in this part of scripture grew out of a time much like our own:  a moment in time when culture seems to be in chaos, when accepted ways are coming unglued and old truths are being questioned.  What’s needed in such times is an affirmation: a reminder, writes William Willimon, “that life has some answers, that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, morally speaking, in each generation.  Proverbs,” Willimon concludes, “point the way.”

Very true; most especially in times such as these.  In fact, it would seem to me that now more than ever, we need some “proverbial wisdom” for our lives, a world view that’s spun not on the dreams of riches, the desire for power or the wish to prevail over others at all costs but rather wholly focused on the Word of God.

The trouble with the Book of Proverbs, of course, is that every verse is its own sermon, and the topics often vary widely from verse to verse:  from child rearing (“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.”), to care for the poor (“Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.”), to taking a proper attitude towards God, self and others (“Those who love a pure heart and are gracious in speech will have the king as a friend.”).  And if you read for very long in Proverbs, you’re going to run headlong into some fairly harsh and explicit advice in dealing with the perverse, the wicked and those who engage in loose living; not to mention some verses that, given the times in which they were written, certainly don’t jibe with our modern sensibilities as regards discipline and the treatment of women and children.  Suffice to say that there’s a whole lot to digest in the Book of Proverbs!

So maybe what we need to do, at least for our purposes this morning, is to find a way to somehow bring all these proverbs together.  And for me, the key to this can actually can be found in the very first verse we shared today from the 22nd chapter of Proverbs: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

What’s interesting is that if you ask someone what they want out of life – particularly if you ask someone this question as they’re starting out in life – odds are this person will answer in one of two ways: either they will say something to the effect that they want to be successful (that is, to be powerful or popular or influential or rich) or that they wish to build a life that is based on happiness or security (you know, falling in love, raising a family, having a home, getting a job that not only pays the bills but offers some satisfaction).   Now, don’t misunderstand: this is not to say that these two points of view are mutually exclusive from  each other, nor that one choice is all bad and the other all good – there are those who do seem to “have it all,” as it were – it is just to suggest that when it all comes down in life, most of us end up in one way or another choosing in which direction we wish to go.  Whether we actually reach the destination we’ve chosen is almost beside the point; what matters is how the choice we’ve made defines who we are along the way.

So… when this proverb for today advises you and me to choose for ourselves a good name over great riches, you can’t help but wonder what true wisdom really is!  For instance, you might remember my telling you a few weeks ago how Lisa and I have been “binge-watching” old seasons of “Survivor” this summer and fall; well, I can share with you from that experience the insight that the most memorable players of that million-dollar game succeed through cunning and deceit, backstabbing and a decided lack of personal integrity!  Likewise, you don’t hear an awful lot of politicians running for office these days who focus solely on matters of one’s own goodness, mercy and worthiness for office, but rather on tearing down the character of that his or her opponent… even as they rail against negative campaigning!   But that’s the choice that they’ve made, and we refer to it as “politics as usual.”

By the same token, however, think for a moment about the handful of people who have meant the most to you in your lives: family members, friends, teachers, mentors of one sort or another; the people you love and who have loved you.  When you describe these people, what do you say?  I’m guessing that you’ll say that they were kind and generous to you; that they could be counted on through thick or thin; that they did so much good without ever saying anything about it.  The point here is that these are the people who have for you personified love and faith:  they may or may not have ever had anything in their lives approaching worldly success, but they were and are of good character, people who have chosen in their lives to make a good name for themselves; and that has made all the difference.

The very word character comes from the Greek word charaktíras, meaning “a engraving tool,” that is, that which creates and sharpens the unique traits of one’s personality.  So character does matter, doesn’t it; and it matters to you and to me as we walk the pathways of our lives.  Character is determined by the choices you and I make in how and which way to walk, and not only does that become integral to the way that life unfolds for us, it also has a profound effect on those who walk with us.  As theologian and author Stanley Hauerwas has written: “Be well assured,” he says, “that our character will conform to some account of what’s going on in the world.” 

The question is – it always is – which account… and is that account true?

I think I’ve shared with you before that one question I always ask every couple that comes to me wanting to get married is where they see themselves in, say, five or ten or twenty years?  What would they like to be doing?  Where would they like to be?  Actually, it’s a good question for any of us, married or no, to ask ourselves from time to time; basically, what do we want out of life, even as that life is being lived?  How do we wish to be seen by others – be they friends, neighbors, or even strangers – and who is it that we want to look like in terms of who we are?  When all is said and done, what is it that we fervently hope that the people who know us will say about us?

Will those people say we were “pure of heart and… gracious of speech?”   That we were generous to a fault, kind to others in their distress, both cautious and clever at the right time, people who live life in “humility and fear of the LORD,” and thus knew “riches and honor and life?”  Will they say of you and me that ours was a good name?

Well, the answers to such questions and so many others come down to the choices we make here and now… today, tomorrow and in every day that comes.  Because, beloved, the nurture of a good name is work that stretches over a lifetime.

And it begins and is rooted in the power and presence of God, because as the Book of Proverbs reminds us, “The rich and poor have [at least] this in common, the Lord is the maker of them all.” 

Yes, a good name is of greater value than anything the world can provide; so rest assured that what we do out there – as persons, as people, as the church of Jesus Christ – matters; and how we’re seen in these strange, divisive and distressing times is not only important, but crucial.  May it be truly said of you and of me that the light of our character and wisdom was but a reflection of our God, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

And may our thanks be to God.

AMEN and AMEN!

© 2020 Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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Walking the Talk

(a sermon for September 27, 2020, the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, based on Matthew 21:23-32)

Let me just say this up front:  I could have been either one of those two sons!

I actually remember a whole lot of times growing up when my father would ask me to do chore or another – raking leaves in the front yard, for instance, or stacking firewood in the garage at camp – and just like the second son in Jesus’ parable I would say, if not altogether happily, then mostly willingly, “Sure, Dad, I’ll do that!” But somehow, I never seemed to get the job done: there was always something else I “needed” to do first, always something that I wanted to be doing rather than the job I was supposed to be doing!  And the best part of all is that I always had a perfectly reasonable, well thought out reason for not doing the job right then: I had the chance to hang out with my friends, for instance; or  it was kind of looking like rain and I didn’t want to get wet;  or (and thinking back, this excuse is my personal favorite), it’s only October, and all the leaves haven’t fallen off the trees yet, so why bother even trying to rake till all the leaves have come down?  Suffice to say, in my callow youth I was the very model of that second son who tells his father, “I go, sir,” out into the vineyard, but “did not go.”

On the other hand, however, I can also recall a few times when I cussed and moaned pretty much without ceasing over some chore or another, to the point where I pretty much refused to cooperate because it wasn’t fair and none of the other kids had to do this kind of hard labor!  So just like the first son of the parable, I said, “I will not.”  But then, those were often the times when, for whatever reason – be it wanting to please my parents or to not be grounded – I changed my mind and did the job I was asked to do.

Like I said before:  I could have been either of those two sons in Jesus’ parable.  But which of these two responses do you think pleased my parents the most (ignoring, for the moment, that they would probably would have been the happiest if I’d just said yes and done the job in the first place!)?  Certainly, when I (to borrow a phrase from another parable) “came to myself,” and went to do the job that I’d previously refused to do, perhaps having learned a lesson or two along the way!

At the end of the day, you see, our talk matters very little; it is the way that we “walk the talk” that is truly important.  As the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words,” and not only that, actions have a way of showing forth our true selves, especially as it pertains to our place in the Kingdom of God.

Our text for this morning from Matthew’s gospel is set just after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and just a few days before his crucifixion on Good Friday; so already there is an inevitably about the events that are unfolding.  In fact, as Rev. Nikki Hardeman of McAfee School of Theology has written, as we pick up the reading today, “emotions are high, the politics are tense, and Jesus has a sense of the danger his life is in,” and “we also see Jesus laying all of his chips on the table and not holding back on his teaching.”

With all that in mind, now we have “the chief priests and elders of the people” coming to Jesus in the temple to challenge him regarding the “authority” by which he can teach the way he does.  It is, of course, a classic “gotcha question” on their part: if, they reasoned, Jesus answers in defiance of their authority as priests and elders, he could be accused of blasphemy, but if Jesus answers in deference to those religious leaders, essentially “walking back” his revolutionary teachings, he’d most certainly lose credibility with the people; which, as far as the scribes and Pharisees were concerned, would be a “win-win” for them!  Jesus, however, was not about to get caught in that kind of trap and so, as was typical of Jesus, answered the elders’ question with a question of his own, this one regarding baptism of John, a question that the temple leadership had no intention of addressing!

So there they all were; and it’s in the midst of this long and very awkward silence that Jesus shares the aforementioned parable about the two sons and their different responses to doing the will of their father.  And what becomes immediately clear is that there’s more going on in this story than the comparative work ethic of that vineyard owner’s two sons!  What Jesus is doing here – quite succinctly, in fact – is calling out those so-called “righteous uprights” who claim to and who may even appear to be following God but who, in truth of fact, do not; while at the same time, putting forth the notion that perhaps there are those who by their reckoning, aren’t doing “the will of the Father,” so to speak, but are in fact doing in every way they are able the will of God!  In fact, Jesus goes on to say to this very silent group of priests and elders, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.”  (Which, by the way, was a statement not only shocking in and of itself, but also one rife with the politics of the time: because what Jesus was saying was that even those who were collaborators with the Roman occupation – as were many tax collectors of the time – as well as those who sold out their very faith to other religions and other nations – which was in the parlance of ancient Israel was regarded as akin to prostitution – would be more qualified for God’s kingdom than even these priests and elders, who were considered to be among the greatest adherents of the law and the prophets!).  In other words, says Jesus, what you all say about faith and law and authority means nothing at all (!) unless that is actually practiced; unless you are “walking the talk” of righteousness and faith all these other so-called sinners will get into the kingdom ahead of you.

This text offers up the perfect denouement of how Palm Sunday became Good Friday, as well as a great illustration of the hypocrisy of the religious establishment of Jesus’ time.  What’s interesting, though, is that this parable of Jesus also has a way of speaking to our own attitudes of what constitutes true faith and by extension the status of our own access to the kingdom.

To put a finer point on this, how easy is it for us to become a tad, shall we say, judgmental as to who may or may not be faithful in their walk or who are doing God’s work in their lives.  Don’t think this doesn’t happen, friends: after all, we are currently living in days when people regularly make judgments as to the character of others based solely on their differing political views; so why wouldn’t that also happen as a response to matters of religion and faith?  I remember, for instance, years ago as a young pastor serving on an ecumenical planning board charged with creating a charter for a Christian-based community youth center; but this was a job that was never completed because there were some on the board who refused to sign on because they argued that there were other people and churches in the community who were not Christian “enough” to be a part of the outreach (the project, sadly, fell apart in the wake of the arguing).

So, yes, it is tempting to dismiss those who we don’t think are doing the will of God: maybe their theology is different from ours; maybe the choices they’ve made in their lives don’t scream “capital G-good church people,” maybe we struggle with their points of view on some issues, or maybe they’re just… different from us.   And so we cast them in the mold of the second son, the one who was quick to cut and run on anything we’d consider to be true to the faith… what we do, you see, if I can quote Nikki Hardeman again, is “to judge based on what we see, when what we see is a very small part of the picture!”  And what makes this all the more ironic is that at the same time we’re apt not to recognize that there are a good many “believers” out there, maybe even a few of us who are more like the first son than we’d like to admit, people who seem to be doing everything right but whose faith ends up being shallow at best.

And here’s Jesus, who’s asking us now, “Who do you think is doing God’s will… the one who’s saying, “Lord, Lord, yes, yes, sure, sure,” only to fall away at the first sign of… anything; or the one who’s been struggling to live up to what they should be and how they should live and ends up with a deeper and more sincere faith than anyone ever thought possible? 

Well, Jesus has the answer… and it’s the same one that the temple leadership was given: it’s the one who said “no,” and then relented in doing God’s will; the one who understood on some level, to quote David Lose, that “each moment is pregnant with the possibility of receiving God’s grace, repenting of things we’ve done or were done to us, returning to right relationship with God and those around us, and [truly] receiving the future as open rather than determined,” and then doing everything possible to opening themselves to the Kingdom and everything that God has to offer.

And what does this mean for you and for me in this very strange, uncertain and divisive days of 2020?  Well, first off, it’s a reminder to you and me to, as the kids say, not to be so “judgey;” because God’s grace is amazing and that it extends to each and every one of his children “with the gift of acceptance and love and forgiveness that are the hallmarks of the kingdom Jesus proclaims,” (David Lose, again) regardless of how we might perceive their motivations, their experiences, or their worthiness.  So be careful, brothers and sisters, and judge not…

But I also think that there’s something else about his passage, and it’s that Jesus knows that we struggle at times with “doing the will of the Father” as it regards living up to what we profess to believe in faith.  Most especially right now: I dare say that there have been very few of us over the past six months who have not wondered aloud how anyone is supposed to live in love and with true Christian faith in times such as these; and who haven’t thought, however fleetingly, that perhaps – since the world is going to “heck in a handbasket,” anyway (!) – that maybe we ought to cut and run and just do whatever we can to get by!  Bottom line is that the Lord knows what we’re going through in this strange and divisive time; but the Lord is also, even amidst our current struggles, is calling us to “embrace his grace” and “walk the talk,” returning to the vineyard of God’s kingdom in our midst.  We are called to do God’s work in this time and this place, in our time and our place; and by that work our faith will be made stronger.

Beloved, may you and I answer the call today… and as we do, may our thanks be to God!

Amen and AMEN!

© 2020  Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2020 in Current Events, Jesus, Life, Sermon

 

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