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Getting Out the WORD - the fifteenth sunday after pentecost
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 12:44

the PRAYER. . .

 

God of love, giver of life, you know our frailties and failings. Give us your grace to overcome them, keep us from those things that harm us, and guide us in the way of salvation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

 

the READING. . .

 

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" (matthew 21:23-32 )

 

the DEVOTION. . .

 

Okay. . . Imagine. . . Imagine it's no longer September. . . Imagine it isn't the Fifteenth Week after Pentecost, anymore. . . Instead, it's April. . . the 18th. . . Yesterday was Palm Sunday. . . Three days from now will be Maundy Thursday. . . Four days, Good Friday. . . Easter. . . But right now, it's Monday. . . in Holy Week. . .

 

That's the setting - the context - for today's gospel! Jesus has just ridden into town on the back of a donkey and the crowd has gone wild! Spreading cloaks on the road! Cutting branches from the trees! And everyone singing! "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" The entire city, we're told, is in turmoil!

 

And first thing, Jesus goes to the Temple and drives out all who were selling and buying! He overturns tables! He upends chairs! He shouts! He screams! A man possessed! The chief priests, of course, are furious! "Who does he think he is? What does he think he's doing?"

 

Jesus leaves. But, the next morning, he's back. Sitting. Teaching. The chief priests come to him and ask their question. "By what right? By whose authority?"


You see, they never dreamed that god wouldn't want the same things they wanted!

They never imagined that god might be after something more!

bob barndt, pastor

 
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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