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Showing posts from September, 2017

It's not fair, but it is grace

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Matthew 20:1-16
I didn’t go to church much as a kid, but I remember pastor Bill calling up one day. He invited me to the church for a class. I think we played basketball, but there was a teaching part too. I remember him sitting us down around the table and he gave one jelly bean to one person, then 4 to another, 2 to another kid, and 6 to another. Then he asked, “is that fair?” “No way”, I replied. “But, they’re my jellybeans”, was his reply. And that moment was fixed in my mind. Something seemed wrong about it, but I couldn’t figure out what. He was trying to teach us about the grace of God, but I wasn’t getting it. All I could think was “that’s not fair”.

This idea of fairness has been deeply ingrained in us- Give people what they deserve. The parable Jesus tells us today isn’t about fairness, though, it is about grace and mercy. It is about God’s generosity towards those who deserve much less.

In our parable a vineyard owner hires people for the harvest. He hires people in the…

wiggle room for our brothers and sisters

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Rom 14:1-12

The Early Church had an incredible amount of diversity to try to hold together. It was a movement that was supposed to transcend human barriers that usually divided the rich and the poor, free and slave, men and women, Jewish and non-Jewish. In Christ a new humanity came into being. All people were invited to be embraced by the one Kingdom under Christ. The church is the embassy of this kingdom.

This one new humanity is the spiritual reality, but there is a lot of work to be done to live it out. In Christ they were all one new humanity, but there were practical issues that needed to be worked out.

Say you grew up in a Jewish home never eating pork as a part of your commitment to God. Not only that, but you never even sat at a table with someone who doesn’t eat kosher. Then you become a follower of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah and you have these non-Jewish people becoming followers of Jesus, but they are still eating pork and maybe eating pork they got from the market that ca…

Conflict in the Church

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Matthew 18:15-20
We can sometimes have a tendency to be a bit romantic about the early church. That is probably because we read passages like Acts 2:42-47: “[the believers] devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Just about every serious Christian I know wants to have a church like that. They are devoted to the teaching of the apostles, which for us is found in the Bible. They are also dedica…

The Way of the Cross- Matt 16

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Matthew 16:21-28
It is a great privilege to be here with you here at St. Leonard's and to serve Christ with you.
 The lectionary gives us a bit of a rough reading for my first Sunday with you. Peter Rebukes Jesus and Jesus in turn calls Peter “Satan”. That is a hard Gospel reading to ignore.

You might remember that just last week Peter declared Jesus was  “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). And Jesus gives a glowing response to Peter’s decoration of who he is-  "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter [which means Rock], and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matt 16:17-18).Any of us would be thrilled if Jesus said this kind of thing about us. Jesus declares Peter to be receiving insight directly from God and is then called the rock upon which the Church is built. That is a big deal!

The gospel of Matth…