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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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The Faith to Ask

(a sermon for October 18, 2020, the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, based on Mark 10:46-52)

The grade was a C minus!  And honestly, that was charitable; the only reason it wasn’t a D or worse was that the professor had given me partial credit for a couple of lame answers I’d desperately scribbled on the exam at the last minute!  So it could well have been worse, but since this particular exam counted for 40 percent of my grade, I was feeling like I was sinking fast!  Looking back on it now, I know it was just one test amongst many, but back then as a college freshman the whole thing sent me into a major panic.

So with both heart and exam in hand I dragged myself to the professor’s office to ask for help.  Understand, this was not something I wanted to do; this teacher had intimidated me from day one, and I knew he was going to lay into me about my shoddy work, if not berate me for having the gall to take his class in the first place!  Even as I knocked on his office door, I was convinced that this meeting could not possibly end well!

But as it turned out, the professor couldn’t have been nicer: warmly inviting me sit down and have a cup of coffee while he took a second look at my exam.  There were a couple of agonizing minutes as he went over my work: “Mmm hmm… OK… mmm hmm… Ohhhh… Uh-oh…” but when it was all over, he looked up with a smile and said, “Actually, you’re not too far off here; you’re just going about this the wrong way.  I think we can get your grade up.”   And to this, all I could say, in a voice that expressed a combination of fear, relief and utter amazement, was, “No way.”  To which he replied, “Oh, sure.  The only people who end up doing poorly in my class are the one who won’t come and ask for help.”

I ended up getting a B in that class – not too bad, considering – but I realize now this wasn’t because I was such a stellar student; mostly it was because I’d set aside my fear and my pride to ask for help.  It turned out to be a good lesson for what was to come in my college and seminary career; I’ve also come to realize over the years that it’s a pretty good life lesson as well!

The fact is that we all have times when we have to ask for help; moments of challenge and struggle in which if we are in any way to move forward, we need to turn to someone else – a family member, a friend or neighbor, maybe even a stranger – for our aid.  And if we’re being honest about it, that’s not always an easy thing to do; in fact, most of us have a laundry list of excuses for not asking for help: we don’t wish to be a bother or a burden; we don’t want to come off as appearing needy; we don’t want to be “beholden” to others; or maybe we’re like the stereotypical male who, on principle, refuses to ask for directions under any circumstance (which, as I and just every other man can tell you, is because we’re men and we don’t need no stinkin’ directions!).  But whatever it is, what it all amounts to is simply not wanting to ever admit we actually need help!

Bottom line; is all too often for us, this very basic human act of reaching out to others for help turns out to be just about one of the hardest things we ever have to do; and if that’s true on a personal level, on a spiritual level it can seem almost impossible!  Yes, again if we’re being honest, for many of us even asking for help from God seems to go against the grain of our independent, pull-ourselves-up-by-our-own-bootstraps, self-sufficient sensibilities; even in those horrible moments of life when it’s clear that all we have left is to cry out to God! 

And why is that?  Why is it so difficult for us to ask for help, particularly from God?  Well, for one thing, it’s humiliating; at least in the sense that it requires from us some humility.  In other words, it’s humbling to acknowledge our need, and in the process, our utter weakness. It’s hard for us to confess that no, we can’t do it all for ourselves, and then to put ourselves and our own brokenness out there on display in order to get the help we need.   To put this still another way, asking for help requires from us a change of heart; but the good news is that if we’ll just let that happen, not only do we get what we need, but we end up with much more than we were ever expecting. 

It’s a change of heart that leads to a change of life…

…and if you want another word for that, it’s FAITH.

Now, I know this runs headlong into this notion that so many of us cling to that faith means our having everything together and living with absolute certainty about… everything.  But that’s really not faith at all:  I actually love what the Rev. Susan Andrews says about this: “This is what faith looks like,” she writes.  “Faith is needy.  Faith is eager.  Faith is assertive.  Faith is hopeful.  Faith is impetuous and persistent and risky and raw.  Faith is personal and relational.  Faith ends something and faith begins something.  Faith is about God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and [in the end] faith is about us out of dumbstruck gratitude doing for God what only we can do.”   

We have a supreme example of all this in Mark’s story of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar crying out for all he’s worth for Jesus to help him.   Now here was a man who’d not only lived most of his life in darkness, but also in poverty and outside the periphery of society, having long since been reduced to begging to passersby for any loose coins and leftover food in order to survive.  So Bartimaeus had a need that was raw and profound and immediate, and frankly, most people in his situation would have given up long ago on ever having that need answered.

But not Bartimaeus; he’s not at all afraid to ask for what he needs!  In fact, he’s persistent about it to the point of becoming a bit obnoxious (!): we’re told in Mark that even though “many sternly ordered him to be quiet,” Bartimaeus wasn’t about to be quiet; when they shush him, he just shouts for Jesus all the more loudly, until finally, this heart of crazy bold eagerness gets a response and Jesus does answer.

And did you notice – that after they call Bartimaeus, and he throws off his cloak, fairly well leaping to where Jesus is – how Jesus answers?  It’s “what do you want me to do for you?”  What is it that you need? “My teacher, let me see again,” says Bartimaeus, and to this Jesus says simply, “Go; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately, because he had the faith to ask, Bartimaeus gets the help, the healing that he needs.  To quote Andrews once again, there’s nothing “proper or pious or proud” about this, just “uppity, persistent, honest need,  and,” listen to this: “in offering that need assertively and eagerly to Jesus, Bartimaeus finds purpose.  He finds faith.  He finds new life.”

Isn’t it interesting how often in the gospels, when someone asks for, and receives what they need from Jesus, their first response is to follow Jesus; it’s the changed heart that leads to a changed life!  And that does make sense; after all, just as I wouldn’t have gotten a B in that class had I not made use of the help I’d gotten from the teacher, Bartimaeus regaining his sight would ultimately have meant very little if he’d continued living in a way that was disconnected to the world and to God!  For Bartimaeus, his new sight led to change in his vision for living.  And that’s the thing, you see; you not only gave to have the faith to ask, you also have to have the faith to follow.

I remember a piece I read several years back about a group of young people who, though they’d been essentially blind since their birth, underwent an advanced type of laser eye surgery and were enabled to see for the first time in their lives!  Think about that for a moment; what it must have been like for them to actually see a flower, or a sunset, the fall foliage or the people they loved for the very first time? 

But in fact, for many of them, it was literally an overwhelming experience.  One young woman said she was so stunned by the incredible beauty of it all that all she could do in response was to immediately shut her eyes and refuse to open them again for two weeks.  Others spoke of how difficult it was for them to get around: before, they’d been able to maneuver in the dark, but now in the light, they’d bang into furniture, and reach out for things, only to misjudge where they were and knock them to the floor!  Another even felt like he was going mad, so much there was for him to absorb! Turned out that for a lot of them, it was much easier to remain in the darkness than to face having vision, because having vision meant a life so radically different than before.

There’s a parable there for us, I think; and it’s that if you’re going to ask for sight, then you had best prepare for a change in your vision.  Because if you have the faith to ask God will give you what you need, but getting what you need will often lead you down a different pathway than the one you were on before, and you’ll need the faith to follow.  The story of Bartimaeus is a reminder to us that where Jesus is concerned, the miracle is just the beginning; and what follows is most certainly the glory of the journey ahead!

Beloved, let me share with you this morning a truth of faith that I’m learning and relearning every day of my life, most especially over the past six months or so:  that the good news of the gospel is that there is no situation in life and living so bad, so convoluted and without hope that we cannot go to God in Jesus Christ, ask for help, and not receive the help that we need.  Now, understand that how we’re answered and what we receive might not always be in the manner that we expect; but make no mistake, what we are given will be healing and transformative and life-changing.  This is what new, abundant life is all about, and it is what we’re promised: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you…”  (Matthew 7:7) that we might get the help we need and be set free; free to follow him where he leads. 

Even now, his voice is asking: “What do you want me to do for you?”  How can I help you?  What help do you need?

His help is there before us, and beloved, we must never be afraid to ask for it.  What that professor wisely said to me so many years ago, offers equal wisdom to you and me as we walk through this journey of life and faith… that ultimately, the ones who do poorly are the ones who won’t ask for help.

May we have the the faith to ask and the faith to follow, dear friends; and may our thanks be unto God.

AMEN and AMEN.

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

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2020 in Faith, Jesus, Life, Sermon

 

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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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