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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
 
Getting Out the WORD - the twelfth sunday after pentecost
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 09:00

the PRAYER. . .

O Lord God, enliven and preserve your church with your perpetual mercy. Without your help, we mortals will fail; remove far from us everything that is harmful, and lead us toward all that gives life and salvation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

 

the READING. . .

 

[Jesus said to the disciples,] "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector..." (matthew 18 . 15-20)

 

the DEVOTION. . .

 

Reasonable! Practical! Down-to-earth! You can't say that about too many passages in the bible! But this one's different! Someone from church hurts your feelings... Another member lets you down... What do you do? Apply Matthew, chapter 18, verses 15, 16, and 17, of course! One-on-one! Then, two-or-three-on-one! Finally, the-whole-church-on-one! Three strikes and they're out! Like I said, reasonable, practical, and very, very down-to-earth!

 

But, as I was reading this passage, there was another story that came to mind... one from John's gospel...

 

It's early in the morning. Jesus comes, again, to the temple, sits down, and starts teaching. A woman is brought to him. A woman caught in a "compromising" position. "Moses said to stone her," the scribes and Pharisees tell Jesus. "What do you say?" Jesus bends over... writes in the dirt... thinking... After a moment, he sits back up...

 

"I say let anyone among you who is without sin throw the first stone."

 

He bends back over and continues scribbling in the dust... And slowly... one... by one... by one... the accusers turn and walk away.


"Woman," asks Jesus, "has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she says. "Then, neither do I," says Jesus. "Neither do I..."

 

In the church, there's practical. And, then, there's the gospel!


bob barndt, pastor
 
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