The Season after Pentecost: Year C, Proper 21

God judges those who neglect the poor and suffering

The parables of Jesus help us to see things more clearly, with the “eyes of faith.” Jesus wants us to see what is really going on in the world and not accept the same, old, easy answers.

Today’s gospel is Jesus’ story  of a very rich man and a poor man (Lazarus) who was ill and lay hungry at the rich man’s gate. Think for a moment about what the rich man did not see. The following are typical “easy answers.” One possible response based on the gospel message is given. Now write your own! Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Year C, Proper 20

Intercessory Prayer

  • Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
  • Psalm 70:1-9
  • 1 Timothy 2:1-7
  • Luke 16:1-13

Intercessory prayer for the church and for the world must inform the life of the congregation. The church prays through its acts of healing and justice as well as through its words. Many of our readings on this day refer to the importance of prayer. Jeremiah tells of how God joins with the people and the earth in expressing vulnerability, pain, and grief over the invasion that will destroy life in the land of Jeremiah’s time. The psalmist reminds us that God stands with the poor and needy; Psalm 70 is a prayer for help. And as Paul writes to Timothy, he urges that prayers be offered for all persons and for all in high office. It is God’s will that all should find salvation and come to know the truth.

Prayer is both personal and corporate. Frank Griswold, in Praying Our Days: A Guide and Companion, states: Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Year C, Proper 19

Jesus seeks out the lost and rejoices at finding them

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus is challenged for welcoming and eating with sinners. The setting helps us to understand that Jesus may have told the story about the lost sheep to defend his acts of reaching out to share the invitation of the reign of God with those often regarded as beyond God’s concern. It may seem foolish to leave many sheep to go after one stray, but the parable emphasizes the lengths to which both Jesus and God will go to bring back one who is missing. The second parable (the lost coin), illustrates a related theme: there is great joy when the lost if found.

Today’s Epistle also states this mission: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Paul speaks out of his own experience, as he offers thanks for the mercy and grace of Christ who has appointed him to his service – despite the fact that he has been a “blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence” (v. 13). He had no valid claim on God’s forgiveness because he was the worst of sinners, thus confirming that anyone could come to Christ through repentance. The mission of Jesus remains: to love sinners into repentance – to relentlessly seek us out and never give up until the lost is found. Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Year C, Proper 18

Counting the Cost of Discipleship

  • Jeremiah 18:1-11
  • Psalm 39:1-5, 12-17
  • Philemon 1-21
  • Luke 14:25-33

The cross has long been the definitive symbol of Christianity and its founder. As early as the 50s of the first century, Paul used “the cross” as a recognized symbol of a much larger set of ideas and beliefs:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning will I thwart.” (I Corinthians 1:17-19) Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Year C, Proper 17

A call to compassion and a warning against pride

Christians are urged to love their fellow Christians by showing hospitality, remembering those in prison or those who are being mistreated, keeping the marriage bond intact, being content with what one has, honoring leaders and teachers and following their examples.

Jesus tells a parable that illustrates humility. He also says, “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” We will be blessed because they cannot repay. True hospitality consists of taking care of those in need for the sake of the kingdom and expecting nothing in return. Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Year C, Proper 16

Jesus brings God’s new covenant to the world

  • Jeremiah 1:4-10
  • Psalm 71:1-6
  • Hebrews 12:18-29
  • Luke 13:10-17

Today’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus healing a bent-over, crippled woman on the sabbath. Rather than rejoicing at the blessing received by the woman, the official in the place of worship protests Jesus’s trespass against one traditional understanding of sabbath regulations. Jesus sharply contrasts these rules with the kindness routinely shown to animals, shaming the official and causing all to marvel at his words and deeds. God’s saving activity cannot be bound by narrow legalism. Once again the crowds rejoice as Jesus bests his opponents.  Continue reading

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The Season after Pentecost: Year C, Proper 15

fire_01Fire & Clouds 

  • Isaiah 5:1-17
  • Psalm 80:1-2, 8-18
  • Hebrews 11:29-12:2
  • Luke 12:49-56

Today’s readings focus on fire and judgment. While the passage last Sunday from Luke spoke of being ready for God’s Kingdom that will come when we least expect it, today Jesus speaks of the end of an age and the need for repentance. Jesus recalls the fire of judgment of which John the Baptist spoke (3:9, 16-17). Jesus expresses the intensity with which he approaches the death foreordained for him at his baptism.

The immediate effect of Jesus’ mission will not be peace, but division. It is warning that the coming of God’s new world will bring division and conflict. Continue reading

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