Jay, Jane, Anna, and Wallflowers
2008-09-16 by David von Schlichten

Jay,

Thank you for your first entry. Your comments about the workers desperate for whatever work they can get remind me of Anna Carter Florence's comments in this week's articles in Lectionary Homiletics. She notes that waiting around for a job, waiting to be hired, is even worse than bearing the burden of the day and the scorching heat.

After reading that, I flashed back to high school dances, when many of us shy types sat around during slow dances, hoping someone would ask us, envious of those who had been chosen.

I'll never forget the exhilaration I felt at one of those dances when the enigmatic, long-legged, brilliant Jane Emerich grabbed me from a gaggle of guys and led me to the dance floor without even asking if I wanted to dance. I had been chosen. I was all nerves, hormones, and heart-pounding.

God calling us is even more thrilling, and we should be ecstatic when someone answers the call, even if the person does so at the last hour.

Yours in Christ,

David  von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





tuesdays blog
2008-09-16 by Jay Wallace

This week is already colored with “events.”  When David asked me if I wanted to be a guest I jumped at the opportunity/complement.  “Wow, yes, OK, uh, what do guest bloggers do?” and now I get to find out.  I didn’t realize that “my week” also coincided with “study leave” which is a course in Appreciative Inquiry.  So ministry, as usual, will be colored by life; Appreciative Inquiry and a just received an E-mail informing me of a death in the congregation. I will complete most of the Training. A colleague will provide some pastoral care and I will hurry home.

 

So the vineyard owner periodically throughout the day walks into the town square and hires workers.  The early birds are only too glad for the opportunity and head off in the cool dawn hopeful for a full days wage.  Meanwhile, the restless the vineyard owner, as day progresses, recognizes the need for more workers.  He returns again and again to the square seeking workers who are themselves growing more and more desperate for work. It is important to notice they haven’t given up.  They are still gathered, but they are “desperate,” why else would they have stuck around all day?  They remain hopeful, it helps them to hold on to life.  They’re willing to take anything, a half day, a quarter day, even a single hours work; then in strides the vineyard owner and he is asking everyone still gathered, “what are you doing here?”

"This is where I am," is my only answer.





Our guest preaching blogger this week is
2008-09-15 by CJ Teets

Jay Wallace:


"I am a second career pastor. In my first life I was a Respiratory Care Practitioner; 25 of those 28 years were served in the setting of the hospital night shift. When a nurse pointed me in the direction of pastoral ministry encouraging me to seek out training as a Hospital Chaplain, I considered her advice inspired, and spent a year earning 4 units of CPE at UC Davis, Sacramento, only to discover I was expected to go on to seminary to become a board certified chaplain. At 52 yrs old I enrolled Seminary at San Francisco Theological and began the slog through Greek and Hebrew, exegesis, preaching and pastoral counseling, etc etc…This is my second call. I currently serve two small churches in 'up-state' (a relative term) New York, and after 6 years in parish ministry I’m still trying to become 'a preacher.'"




Forgiveness, in light of Leviticus 25
2008-09-12 by Bill Carter

There’s an ancient ordinance in the Old Testament. It's the Jubilee Law, in Leviticus 25. It says, “In every 50th year, every debt in the entire country shall be cancelled: every loan, every mortgage, every financial obligation – cancelled! They shall not linger as a burden for the next generation.” And every time somebody discovers that law, somebody else says, “Come on, they never actually practiced that law in ancient Israel. There’s no proof that they ever actually did that…”

 

I don’t know. Just because they didn’t do it doesn’t mean that it’s not what God intends. In fact, do you remember that first sermon that Jesus preached when he showed up on the scene? He stood up in his hometown synagogue and announced, “The Day of Jubilee is here.” Cancel all debts, cancel all sins, announce that God has evened out the playing field, and everybody lives in the great balance of shalom.

 

The first move in becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is affirming that forgiveness is God’s way. Forgiveness is always God’s way. We’ve learned that from Jesus. Can I choose to hold others accountable for their wrongs? Yes. Can I choose to say, you’ve hurt me once, you’re not going to hurt me ever again. Sure, you can say that. Can I even throw somebody into prison because they have done something wrong that they have not fixed? Yes, you can.

 

But as the king in our parable points out, if you throw somebody into prison, you just might discover that it is a cell for two.

 

That's why the New Testament repeatedly uses a particular Greek word for the practice of forgiveness. The word is "cancel." No matter what wrong has been done to us, no matter what wrong we have done to one another, the prayer asks, "Cancel our sin, as we cancel the sin done unto us."

 

The cross of Jesus is the sign that God has kept that side of the equation. Will we keep ours? Or will we prefer to throw ourselves into a prison of torture?





Reflections on Forgiveness
2008-09-12 by Bill Carter

The story seems to suggest an illustration for that familiar line from earlier in Matthew's gospel. You know the line, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."

 

There seems to be some kind of contingency here. If you cannot forgive, you can’t expect to be forgiven. Or to put it another way, the measure to which you forgive is the measure by which you will be forgiven. Or maybe to say one other way, God is willing to forgive the whole world; but forgiveness works only if you pass it along. Otherwise, the whole thing falls apart, and Christ died for nothing.

 

Forgiveness is about relationships – it is the aim to cancel all broken relationships. And it is one of the dimensions of being disciples of Jesus. Matthew tells this story because he is following the commission of Jesus, to make disciples out of those who are baptized. When we are baptized, the church announces that we belong to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And after that, we have to be trained to know what this means. One of the first rungs in the ladder is forgiveness. Forgiveness is a Christian practice. It is something that Christians do.

 

The clear word from this story is that you don’t forgive because you want to, you don’t forgive because you have to, you don’t forgive because holding a grudge is eating you up inside – you forgive because you have been forgiven. That is the mysterious transaction that God accomplishes in the death and resurrection of Jesus. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, “We pushed Jesus out of the world and onto a cross.” And this is what God forgives.

 





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