The Foundation of Faith
- Exodus 1:8-2:10
- Psalm 124
- Romans 12:1-8
- Matthew 16:13-20
It remains a perennial problem. We know we are God’s children through water and the word. We know the gifts of the Spirit are ours through the community. But we remain a divided family, its members too often struggling against one another. We tend to emphasize what keeps us apart rather than what keeps us together – our giftedness in grace through Jesus Christ. Yet there are moments where love is shared, peace is offered, and courage and comfort are brought to those in need.
Jesus declares that the church will be built on the rock of Peter’s bold confession of faith. God’s word of reconciliation and mercy are keys to the church’s mission. Paul urges us to not be conformed to this world, but to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, using our individual gifts to build up the body of Christ. From the table we go forth to offer our spiritual worship through word and deed. Where can we go from here? Continue reading
Faith brings salvation to all
- Genesis 45:1-5
- Psalm 133
- Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
- Matthew 15 (10-20), 21-28
Midway through this green season of Pentecost, we are reminded about what it means to be church. Today we go deeper, as Jesus points out how little his followers understand what God’s meaning of discipleship is all about. Nothing substantive resides in what “goes into” the mouth; it is what comes out that matters. This is a contested issue among “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” as Jesus calls those to whom he believes he has been sent.
Jesus teaches his disciples that true purity is a matter of the heart rather than outward religious observances. Almost immediately, this teaching is tested when a woman considered to be pagan and unclean (a Gentile) approaches him for help. Continue reading
You of little faith
- Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
- Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45
- Romans 10:5015
- Matthew 14:22-33
“Jesus’ miracle of walking on the sea is not just to ‘show off’ who he is but to come to the aid of his threatened disciples. That is to say, while the story is indeed talking about who Jesus is, it emphasized his function rather than his nature. As Messiah he is the one charged and empowered by God to shepherd and care for Gods people.” Douglas R. A. Hare (Matthew: Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, Louisville: John Knox, 1993), 169.
Matthew typically shows the disciples as people of “little faith” who fail despite their best intentions. In the reading from Romans, Paul quotes Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” in reference to those who are willing to go where they are sent and proclaim the good news. And today, the disciples do what Jesus tells them – they go “to the other side.” Doing this, they literally land in “rough waters.” Continue reading
The hidden power of the kingdom of God
- Genesis 29:15-28
- Psalm 105:1-11, 45b or Psalm 128
- Romans 8:26-39
- Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Today’s gospel reading is a challenging series of parables about the “kingdom of heaven.” While the subject of the parables is basically the same, the thematic diversity of the parables suggests how multifaceted is any understanding of the kingdom Jesus proclaims and to which he points. The parables – suggesting the humble and unexpected nature of the kingdom, the kingdom’s surpassing value, and its real and perceived population – offer different windows into the one reality of the kingdom. In telling parables, Jesus surprises and stretches our minds, engages and enlivens our imaginations. Having minds and imaginations set free by the gospel is part of our “train[ing] for the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:52). Continue reading
Wheat or Weeds?
- Genesis 28:10-19a
- Psalm 139:1-11, 22-23 or Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
- Romans 8:12-25
- Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
It is an age-old question: why is there evil in the world? In the parable of the wheat and the weeds (King James Version = tares), Jesus suggests that both grow together until the harvest. With Paul, we long for the day that all creation will be set free from bondage and suffering. Having both weeds and wheat within us (like Jacob in today’s lesson from Genesis), we humbly place our hope in the promises of God and from the sustenance we receive at the Lord’s Table as we go forth to bear the fruit of justice. To do this we also must be willing to forgive.
Just like last week’s Gospel reading, Jesus again uses the metaphor of sowing and reaping, as he speaks of unfaithful and fallen individuals. Here he takes a stand for including doubters and obvious sinners. After Jesus tells this parable, his disciples come to him for an explanation. They are troubled, it is a parable of judgment. Continue reading