Monday, September 22, 2014

Lectionary 26 A - Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
So what gives? Didn’t God commission Moses to set in stone the small print following the second commandment? “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me.” (Exodus 20:5 & Deuteronomy 5:9) Or what about the good news / bad news of Numbers 14:18? “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, BUT he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.” On the flip side of the covenant coin both Jeremiah (31:29-30) and Ezekiel preach personal responsibility. Whoever does the crime does the time. So which is it? Jesus trumps both sides in favor of neither (the man born blind story in John 9 – “whose sin is it?”) and negates the conditional clause (neither this man nor his parents sinned) in favor of the gift of sight revealing the works of God. The work of God is this: the One who knew no sin (and I’m just guessing here but his Abba was pretty much perfect too) was made to be sin so that those who are in bondage to sin (parent and child) might be set free. So turn to the God who takes no pleasure in the death of anyone and live. 

2011 post

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lectionary 25 A - Matthew 20:1-16

Matthew 20:1-16
The kingdom of heaven is always a contradiction of common kingdoms that operate according to survival of the fittest where the winner is the one who dies with the most toys. So the all-day workers sweating in the sun obviously deserve more wages than the slackers who spent all but the last hour of the day playing 42 (the official domino game of the great state of Texas) in the marketplace. You can bet that the next time the master went looking for workers the marketplace had become a right to wait state and expecting a day’s wage for working one hour was the new normal. That is why the kingdom of heaven is like something that is never done in common kingdoms. Apparently God doesn't get how incentives work. But then the parable is not about the workers or even the wages. It’s about the landowner which means it’s about God and in this parable God gets to do whatever God wants to do which in this case is do something we would not. Surprise.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lectionary 25 A - Philippians 1:20-30

Philippians 1:20-30
To live a life worthy of the Gospel is more about embracing grace than adherence to the law although there are always consequences for less than Gospel worthy ways of living. But as those who “are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves” we understand living a Gospel worthy life is always a work in progress. So we bear with each other recognizing that all “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and depend wholly on the mercy of God. Which means the Gospel way of living is to strive together side by side so that our mutual love and affection for one another bears witness to the God who loves all people equally.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lectionary 25 A - Psalm 145:1-8

Psalm 145:1-8
“One generation commends your works to another” is the way the faith has been passed down through the ages so that the ancient story of mighty acts and awesome works is not lost. More than myth the ancient story is retold in the living language of the generation entrusted to bear it into the infinite future. Granted, the “passing on” generation always hopes that their way of telling the story will be as enduring as the story itself and that the generation “receiving” the gift will not throw away the wrapping. But the truth is “the Lord gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” is the same for every generation, whether it's recounted on a Kindle or a scroll. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Lectionary 25 A - Jonah 3:10-4:11

Jonah 3:10 - 4:11
Discussions of the Book of Jonah often focus on the detail of the “whale” and whether someone could be swallowed up and survive. Those who read the story as literal truth do so out of reverence for the scriptures as the source and norm of all doctrine and faith and believe if you doubt the literal truth of one story all the other stories are called into question. Those who read Jonah as a parable or allegory also reverence the scriptures as the source and norm of all faith and doctrine and believe a story does not need to be literally true to be true. The point of this story, which I am quite willing to swallow as literally true, is in chapter four. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh because he knew God would be merciful and forgive the enemies of Israel and that was “very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry.” (4:1) God provided shade to cool Jonah’s jets but then struck it down to make a point and Jonah sitting in the sun and lamenting the burned up bush was “angry enough to die.” (4:9) With or without the big fish story this is the part of the text that is literally true about us especially when like Jonah we care more about the bush of our own understanding than the “great city” of fellow believers whose fish story may be bigger or smaller than ours.