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getting out the WORD - the 16th sunday after pentecost
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 27 September 2017 14:22

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...
[Jesus said to the disciples:] "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Matthew 20:1-16

the DEVOTION...
A little over eight years ago, Disney released the animated comedy Up; a story of an old man and a young boy who team up for an adventure in the jungles of South America. Along the way, they meet Dug the talking - but easily distracted - dog who has a habit, in the middle of a sentence, of quickly looking off into the distance and saying, "Squirrel!"

Well, the gospel, this week, is Matthew's squirrel-moment! For fifteen verses, Jesus has been telling his disciples a parable about the laborers in the vineyard. Five groups of workers hired throughout the day who, in the end, are paid the same amount! It's all about generosity! But for some reason, Matthew ends by saying, "So the last will be first, and the first last!"

The way the workers are paid, though, is only a way of building up the anticipation of those hired early in the morning. As group after group receive a full day's wage, they become more certain they'll be paid more. When they don't, they grumble. Bigheartedness and openhandedness, not chronology! But Matthew tosses this shiny object into the air and we follow it every time! Sidetracked! Distracted! But then, I guess it's always a whole lot easier to worry about your place in line, than admit we, too, are envious of god's generosity.

Bob Barndt, pastor

 
getting out the WORD - the 15th sunday after pentecost
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 14:04

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...
"So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

Matthew 18:21-35

the DEVOTION...

Heartfelt! Compassionate! Sincere! On good days, that's how we think about faith. Strong, but at the same time very, very gentle. And it's all there in those last three words... FROM THE HEART!

Unfortunately, that's not what inspires the forgiving. At least, not in this "gospel." What moves the church, here, is more basic. It's fear, simple and plain. It's the threat! "So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you!" Anger! Torture! Forgive OR ELSE! And so, we forgive. Not because we want to. Not even because we care! We forgive for the same reason we do most things! We're afraid not to! Afraid we'll be punished! Afraid of the consequences if we don't! And love doesn't have anything to do with it!

But truth is, believing IS about warmth and compassion and being genuine! It's patience and gentleness, kindness and all the rest! And the challenge we face is being blind, becoming deaf to it all because of verses just like this one! We forgive, because we've been forgiven! And we love - not out of fear - but because god first loved us!

Bob Barndt, pastor

 
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