First, THANK YOU to all the people in both churches who worked at our dinners this weekend. Grey Eagle UMC had their annual hog roast on Saturday and served approximately 240 people. Peace United Church hosted the monthly Community Friendship Dinner on Sunday and served about 115 people. It takes a lot of people working together to make these events happen. Thank you so much.
We have three more weeks of our current sermon series, “Making Sense of the Bible”. Next Sunday’s theme is “The Bible and Science”. Does science nullify the Bible? Do we dismiss science because we believe the Bible? Should we be like Christian Scientists who reject medicine because the Bible says we receive healing through prayer? Are dinosaurs which lived millions of years ago God’s cosmic practical joke because the Earth was created 6,000 years ago? How do we reconcile science and the Bible? Or should we?
The lectionary readings for this week are:
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 – The Big Ten; ‘nuf said, except for: There is an old rabbi maxim that in any list you should pay most attention to the first and the last. The last command is, “You shall not covet.” If you consistently break this one then this could lead to breaking #9, then 8, then 7 and then 6. So, to sum up the Big Ten: You shall have no other God and do not covet.
Psalm 19 – All of creation proclaims the glory of God and God’s law are perfect, sure, right, clear, pure, and true. The law is to be desired (coveted?).
Isaiah 5:1-7 – Verses 1 and 2 are a parable of the vineyard that is cared for but produces only wild grapes which are very sour. The people of Judah were supposed to produce good fruit but failed. What is God to do, tear out the hedges and tear down the walls so that it will become a wasteland? God expected justice and righteousness but only got bloodshed and grief. This is a troubling text as we contemplate a God who can remove his protection. Is God being vindictive? Is God giving up? Or is this a way God facilitates change in hardened hearts?
Psalm 80:7-15 – The psalmist pleads with God to restore the vineyard. (See above.)
Philippians 3:4b-14 – Paul states that he has all the right credentials under Jewish law and tradition: a circumcised member of the clan of Benjamin and a zealous protector of the Pharisee understanding of Jewish faith, someone who persecuted the followers of Christ. Yet, once he knew Christ all of that is now “rubbish”. (Actually in Greek it is a coarse word for dung, manure. In English we would say “sh__”.) Now, however, he knows the power of Christ. Paul is leaving his past behind and pressing on to the future. Are we willing to leave the past behind and move confidently into God’s future or do we cling on to the past? Church will never be like it was in the 1950’s or 60’s. What we have is tomorrow. Textual notes: in verse 9 “faith in Christ” could also be “faith of Christ”. In verse 12 “reached the goal” could be read as “been made perfect.” In verse 14, “heavenly call” could be “upward call”. Do these alternate translations make a difference?
Matthew 21:33-46 – In last week’s reading Jesus was challenged and he told the parable of two sons. This week, at the same spot, Jesus gives the parable of the vineyard. The elders and chief priests would have recognized the allusion to Isaiah, above. A man builds a vineyard and rents it out. When it is time to collect the produce due him, he sends several slaves who gets beaten up, stoned and killed. He send more who suffer the same fate. Finally, he sends his son who is promptly killed. As in Mark’s version of the story, Jesus asks the listeners what the landowner will do. In Mark’s version, Jesus answers his own question, “He will send an army to kill the tenants and rent it to better people.” In this version the answer is given by the elders and priests. Jesus then quotes Psalm 118:22-23 and when the elders and priests understand that he means them, they want to kill him. Does Matthew better understand that violence is human in origin than Mark?
Have a great week serving God by serving your neighbor.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor