October 15, 2017. "It's Party Time." Matthew 22: 1-14.

What do you like to do at parties?  What makes a party special?  marriage feasts in Israel were like parties.  Like last Sunday, today's gospel is allegorical.  The gospel reading summarizes the experience of the early church.  The early church struggled with who was to be included at the party.  Excuses were common.  The church struggles today with who is included.  Many baptized reject the faith.  Some newcomers do not embrace the expectations.  We confuse church membership with discipleship.  God's gracious invitation extends to all.  Yet that invitation must be received by faith.  The church's mission is to invite all to the party.  But the church must also lay out what will be expected.

October 8, 2017. "Owners or Tenants?" Matthew 21: 33-46.

What is your favorite kind of literature?  Today's gospel is an allegory.  The gospel reading is a summary of Israelite history.  The gospel also describes Israelite economic realities.  We want to see ourselves as the fruitful tenants.  Christian treatment of Jews would suggest otherwise.  Contemporary economic realities would suggest otherwise.  I suggest we see ourselves as unworthy tenants.  Then the passage takes on a new meaning.  The landowner does not react as we might expect.  God turns a bad situation into something good.  God expects rightful tenants to produce fruit.  There are no other options.  If we expect to be rightful tenants, we will need to do the landowner's will.  What are rightful tenants to do?

September 24, 2017. "A Loving God." Matthew 20: 1-16.

What is the kindest thing anyone ever did for you?  Who did it?  Why did they do it?  Today's reading is a parable.  This parable is not about time management, fair labor practices, or economic systems.  This parable is about God's grace or kindness and our hunger for God.  People are hungry for a loving God.  God is a God of surprises.  God's justice and mercy surpass human expectations.  God meets the needs of all people.  Status and service do not guarantee special claims on God.  The original disciples are assured of their reward.  Matthew's church of poor and rejected people is assured of its reward.  Latecomers are assured of their reward.  Come to God's vineyard at any time and be among those whom God will reward most generously. 

September 3, 2017. "Behavior and Personality." Romans 12: 9-21.

What are some personality traits appreciated by most people?  Our culture is enamored by personality.  Actually the Bible says little about personality.  But the Bible says a lot about behavior.  Holy behavior marks the true Christian.  Love is the basis of human behavior.  Love is marked by a healthy community life.  Love is marked by living in peace with all persons.  Let your love be genuine.  Overcome evil with good.

August 27, 2017. "Sources of Our Identity." Matthew 16: 13-20.

How are names important in your life?  How are places important in your life?  Names help us form an identity.  Names are important in the Bible.  Names are important in today's gospel.  The setting is Caesarea Philippi.  Jesus is not John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or a prophet.  Jesus is Son of Man, Messiah, and Son of the Living God.  Simon is named Peter.  The community is named the church.  Jesus builds the church.  Jesus wants himself to be known.  God empowers humans.

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