the 3rd sunday after pentecost
the PRAYER. . .
Teach us, good Lord God, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, except that of knowing that we do your will, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
the READING. . .
[Jesus said to the twelve:] “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
the DEVOTION. . .
The assumption most make – before we ever read a word, before we ever sing a note, before we ever say a prayer – is that there are two kinds of people in the world. Good people and bad people. And it’s god’s job to figure out which is which. The good rewarded. The bad punished. Eternal. Everlasting. And this week’s gospel reading plays right into the second. “Acknowledge, I’ll acknowledge. Deny and I’ll deny.” Outer darkness. Teeth gnashing. And fire. Lots and lots of fire.
But there’s another assumption that can be made. The assumption that god’s not like us. Hurt feelings. Grudges. Resentments. It’s the assumption that god loves. Always. Forever. Instead of being judge, jury, and executioner, god’s creator, savior, renewer. A god of plowshares, not swords; of pruning hooks, not spears.
Two assumptions. Mutually exclusive. And unfortunately, we’ll find in the bible whichever one we’re looking for. But it reminds me of something Dr. King said. “Hate is too great a burden to bear … I’ll stick with love!” And, you know, I think we will, too!
Bob Barndt, pastor