Friday, October 13, 2017

Lectionary 28 A - Matthew 22:1-14


The interesting twist to “many are invited but few are chosen” is that the choice belongs to the invited. Granted the poorly dressed one is dismissed in no uncertain terms but one can’t help but notice the guest list originally included those who declined and they did not suffer a similar fate. It was only after the A-list said, “No thank you” that the good and bad from the highways and byways were invited to fill the void. It could be that the “friend” in less than acceptable garments represents those who attending the banquet would have rather stayed home but even so being tied hand and foot and thrown into the outer darkness seems a little over the top for a dress code violation. We could read this text as a warning to dress up our lives in acceptable fashion or else suffer the consequence. But maybe we would be better dressed if we read it as an invitation to live life like a wedding reception where the party celebrates our very best hopes and dreams. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lectionary 28A - Philippians 4:1-9

Philippians 4:1-9
Writing from prison Paul encourages the Philippians with a lovely laundry list of “whatever is” think on these things which goes well beyond the power of positive thinking. It is, however, an attitude adjustment in the same way we are to have the mind of Christ who did not consider equality with God something to be exploited. (Philippians 2:6) Gentleness evident to all and the double dip of rejoicing is only possible because the Lord is near. It is for this reason that Euodia and Syntyche are to set aside whatever has come between them and remember the Gospel for which they both contend. Paul had no way of knowing his letter would be read by anyone after it had served its purpose let alone for 2000 years of church history. If he had he might not have called out these two women by name. On the other hand I wonder if the things that divide us would be as important to us if we knew our names would be forever enshrined in the scriptures. Just saying.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lectionary 28 A - Psalm 23



Psalm 23
The table prepared is in the presence of enemies which makes one wonder about the relative calm of green pastures and quiet waters. But maybe that is why this psalm is so often recited at funerals. While the dearly departed have passed through “the valley of the shadow” and experience heads anointed with oil and cup overflowing we who mourn do so in the presence of death, the last enemy to be defeated. The table prepared is the promise that the shadow cast by death is not long enough to block out the light for the evil death would do has been undone by the cross – the rod and the staff of the Shepherd. The green pastures and still waters happen whenever souls are refreshed, despite real loss and longing, by the sure and certain promise of a forever dwelling in the house of the Lord.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Isaiah 25:19 - Lectionary 28 A

Isaiah 25:1-9
When the city is reduced to rubble and the fortified town turned into a ruin then the strong will honor God and the ruthless will revere the Lord. The only power the mighty respect is a more mighty power. In the end death silences the scepters sway and it doesn’t matter how ornate your tomb is when “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” is the only honest epitaph. Every knee shall bow because in the end God is the only one left standing and the forever feast on the holy mountain is a celebration of God and not the “all peoples” who are invited. I know there are plenty of scriptures that would confirm that God is just ruthless as we are but if that is the case then the wicked win or it means everyone loses, maybe even God?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Lectionary 27 A - Matthew 21:33-46

Matthew 21:33-46
Since the text says Jesus is talking about “them” we can safely assume he is not talking about “us.” But then the living word, sharper and more active than a two edged sword, doesn’t let anyone off that easily. In many ways we are like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They were well versed in scripture and loved the law that revealed the way of the Lord. They were familiar with the pattern of religious ritual that gave shape to their every day and marked the passing of the seasons. They trained up their children in the way they should go so that when it came to the time of their passing God would not abandon them to Sheol. Jesus, the self proclaimed rock rejected, threatened the very fabric of their religious life and no matter how Matthew remembered it the pious people of Jesus’ day were serving God by wanting to arrest Jesus and make him conform to the faith of his forebears. So what might that say about the “us” that objects to being identified with “them”? We have ways set in stone that elevate human traditions to divine status. We judge others by their ability to conform to the pattern of our faith. We might be well meaning but that doesn’t mean we aren’t misguided. The good news is that the stone over which we stumble and the rock that crushes our personal preferences is the precious cornerstone that for the sake of those outside the vineyard would have us give it away in obedience to the heir who owns it.