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Showing posts from September, 2020

Fairness, Grace, and Grumbling- Matt 20

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Exodus 16:2-15; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

In our Gospel reading today Jesus tells a parable about a landowner who hires people to work in his vineyard. People who had no other work would stand around and wait to be hired for the day. Kenneth Bailey is a specialist in understanding the New Testament through Middle Eastern culture. He spent 40 years in the Middle East and he has seen unemployed young men standing in certain corners of markets where they would hope to be hired for the day. As an example, he said that this would happen near the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem. There, “unemployed Palestinians gathered each morning at a spot on a major road. Employers, usually Israelis, would pull up in vans. As the vans approached, five to ten young men would rush into the street to see how many men the employer wanted, hoping to be selected” (Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, p.358).  They would usually work hard because they would hope to be hired again and maybe even get a re…

Handling non-essential differences in the church- Rom 14

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Exodus 14:19-31; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35
First, in our Exodus reading, we read about the continuing story about the rescue of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. God saves the Hebrews from the Egyptian army and separates the sea. This saving act is central to the identity of the Hebrew people, and even as Christians we use this imagery- we are rescued from slavery to sin and are set on the path to the kingdom. It's an important reading. 

In today’s Gospel reading, Peter comes to Jesus wondering when his responsibility to forgive someone ends. … Jesus tells a parable about a king whose servant owed him ten thousand talents. A talent was the largest monetary unit of the time. One talent was worth more than 15 year’s wages of a laborer (150,000 years of labour!). So, there is no possible way he could repay this debt. The idea is that when we sin against a holy and perfect God, we create a debt that we have no way of paying back. Amazingly, the king has pity and forgives t…

Dealing with Conflict- Matt 18

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Matthew 18:15-20

I find encouragement in Jesus’ teaching in our gospel passage because Jesus anticipates that there will be conflict and disagreement in the church. This is not a surprise to him, and Jesus gives us a way to deal with conflict. We sometimes think the church should be a utopia, but Jesus never had that illusion…. Jesus’ own disciples argued about who was greater (Lk 22). One of them betrayed him into the hands of those who killed him, and Peter denied knowing him (Lk 22).

Later, in the book of Acts, they are in conflict about the place of Gentiles in the church (Gal 2; Acts 15). Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark argued about whether Mark should accompany them on one of his missionary journeys because he had left them prematurely on a previous journey (Acts 15). We could also look at Paul’s letters, most of which seem to have been written in response to a conflict in a church.

This was nothing new for God’s people. They squabbled under the leadership of Moses, under the pr…

Why is it that religious people are often resistant to, or slow to get behind social movements?

Why is it that religious people are often resistant to, or slow to get behind various social movements? This is a question that leaves some of my non-religious family and friends shaking their heads. Why are so many religious people so stubborn? I think the main reason comes down to the foundations for ethics. Where does the average non-religious person get their ethics from? I'm not talking about a university trained ethicist (The branch of philosophy dealing with ethics). I'm talking about the average person on the street. I think their foundations usually come from family, friends, and the media they consume- What news outlets they watch/read, what TV shows they watch, The music they listen to, the books they read, and what their friends think is likely where the foundation of their ethics rest. This can be an uncomfortable realization. As people who value individualism, we don't like thinking that our minds are so malleable. In Western culture, the general values we te…