Love of Neighbor and the Mystery of God With Us

 

Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost

Matthew 22:34-46

As someone tasked with weekly sermon preparation, I often find that the most helpful reflections are those that, rather than make a single, uniform point about the text, offer a few possible directions for exploration and uncovering.

As I read this passage from Matthew’s Gospel, there are a number of directions I think any homilist could go, and I hope that the following possibilities are helpful in either your preparation and writing, or in your prayerful reflection on the text as a spiritual discipline. Read more

Learning to Trust

Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Exodus 32:1-14

What do you do when the only world you’ve ever known has been torn out from under you? When the world as you’ve known it has crumbled and you’re left standing in a desolate place with an unknown future before you? How do you respond when it appears that the One whom you’ve trusted has disappeared? Read more

The Vocation of the Vineyard

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 5:1-7

Psalm 80:7-15

Philippians 3:4b-14

Matthew 21:33-46

Crying to God for justice in a world of violence.

Recognizing inherited privilege.

Hoping for a future of reconciliation.

We are witnesses of the outcries against racially-charged violence and the reactions of white supremacy to those laments. We hear the longsuffering pleas of “How long?” in the midst of an ongoing pandemic (one that seems destined to get much worse before it gets better), and we sense the faint hope and longing for a future of reconciliation beyond these struggles. We know and experience what these opening lines describe. They are preoccupations that are very familiar to us, yet this description is not drawn from our current crises but from our appointed lectionary texts for this week, speaking to us in powerfully new and relevant ways. Read more

Cultivating Compassion

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

 

Exodus 17:1-7

Philippians 2:1-13

Matthew 21:23-32

This week’s scriptures simmer with conflict. Our reading from Exodus finds the “congregation of the Israelites” stranded in the wilderness of Sin, in a decidedly unhappy mood. Water is in short supply, and people know exactly who to blame. Things get so ugly that even after the people drink their fill, Moses names the place “Massah” (testing) and “Meribah” (quarreling).

Sunday’s gospel account from Matthew 21 recounts Jesus’ escalating battle with the religious leaders. Accusatory thrusts and countering questions lead to conversation-ending judgment: “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” Temperatures are rising. Trouble is on the horizon. Read more