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Getting Out the WORD - the fourteenth sunday after pentecost
Written by Pastor Bob   
Thursday, 22 September 2011 13:30

 

the PRAYER. . .

 

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

 

the READING. . .

 

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, 'Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.'  When those hired about five o'clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. . . .” (matthew 20:1-16 )

 

the DEVOTION. . .

 

Recession!  Unemployment!  Debt limit!  Deficit spending!  Stimulus!  Job creation!  Tax increases!  Cut, Cap, and Balance!  The debate's been raging around us for months, now!  For years, actually!  So much so that we're drowning in the jargon. . .  and in the self-interest. . .  and in the ulterior motives. . .  But it does provide quite a background for this week’s parable. . .

 

First thing in the morning, a landowner goes to the marketplace and hires laborers to work in his vineyard.  That same landowner returns the same day to the same marketplace and hires more workers. . . not just once. . .  or twice. . .  but four more times! Then, at the end of the day. . .  when all is said and done. . .  the landowner pays the workers he hired. He pays them well! And he pays them all the same!  Those who worked the entire day!  Those who worked three-quarters!  A half!  A quarter!  Even, just one hour!  Each one received a wage they could live on!

 

“The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard”? Hardly! More like “The Parable of the Sympathetic Landowner!”  “The Parable of the Compassionate Capitalist”!  “The Parable of the Benevolent Industrialist”! Giving to all. . . without being asked! Giving to all. . . freely, without limit, without measure! Giving to all. . . generous to a fault!  Impractical?  Unrealistic?  No.  "This is what the kingdom of heaven is like!"

 

bob barndt, pastor

 
Getting Out the WORD - the thirteenth sunday after pentecost
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 10:32

the PRAYER. . .

O Lord God, merciful judge, you are the inexhaustible fountain of forgiveness.  Replace our hearts of stone with hearts that love and adore you, that we may delight in doing your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

the READING. . .

“Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave!  I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?'  And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. . . .”            (matthew 18:21-35 )

the DEVOTION. . .

For two weeks, now, I've been writing about Matthew. . .  how his gospel is different from the rest. . .  full of contrasts and contradictions.  One thing one moment.  Something completely different the next.  "Deny yourself!  Then, Come in glory!"  "Take up the cross!  Then, Repay everyone!"  Well, this week, it happens again. . .  in a parable of course, that appears in Matthew and in Matthew alone!

One slave owes his "master" a debt he can never hope to repay.  But, the debt’s forgiven!  That forgiven slave, then, refuses to do the same for a fellow servant. . .  a debt that could easily be repaid!  The "master" finds out, takes back his forgiveness, and in anger, hands that “Unforgiving Servant” over "to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt!"  The moral of the story. . .  at least, according to Matthew. . .  "So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

Truth is. . . we don't forgive simply because god commands us to.  And we won't forgive just because we're threatened!  We forgive only when our "hearts of stone" are replaced with hearts of sympathy and compassion!  We forgive because we are forgiven!  But, then, to be honest, there are times when we don't. . . or we won’t. . . or we can’t. . . Times when we, too, are the unforgiving servant. But when that happens, the "master" doesn't take back his forgiveness and hand us over. . .  He simply keeps on forgiving!  Not just seven times, but as many times as it takes!

bob barndt, pastor
 
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