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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Joel 2:21-27; Psalm 85; James 1:1-15; Luke 15:1-2, 11-32

With the assurance that the army from the north has been put away, the Lord follows with words of assurance to all who were sorely affected by the plague of locusts. He tells the soil to be glad and rejoice. The wild animals, as well as those of pasture, are told “Do not fear.” Fruit trees will bear in abundance as well as the vines. The children of Zion are told to be glad and rejoice in the Lord. God has given early rain for vindication, in abundance, and a later rain as well. The threshing floors will overflow. The Lord will repay them for the years that the swarming locusts stripped and cut and destroyed—the great army that the Lord sent against them. Instead, they shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord for having dealt wondrously with them. Never again shall they be put to shame. And, they shall know that the Lord is in the midst of them. The promise is repeated: Never again shall they be put to shame. But there is more yet to come.

Psalm 85 is a communal lament of petition that is preceded by reminding God of how he has been favorable to the people in the past, restoring the fortunes of Jacob, forgiving the people’s iniquity and pardoning all their sin, withdrawing his wrath and turning from his hot anger. And so the plea is now, “Restore us again.” Will you be angry forever? “Revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in you. Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.” Whether the psalmist himself or a priest in the temple, one now speaks prophetically and says, “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,” and then promises, “God will speak peace to his people, to his faithful ones, to those who turn to him in their hearts.” For these, salvation is at hand. The result of this is that steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss; faithfulness will spring up from the ground and righteousness will look down from the sky. These four cardinal and classic attributes of God will be upon those who turn to him as a sign of God’s favor. The land will yield its increase, and righteousness will go before the Lord, making a path for his steps.

We begin the book of James, the book that Luther called “an epistle of straw” because of its emphasis on works as the expression of faith, and the lack of talk about Jesus, who’s name appears only twice. There are two James in the New Testament: the apostle James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John, and James the brother of Jesus who became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Both died early as martyrs, the former in 44 CE and the latter in 62 CE. Neither seems to be the author of this book which is written much later and in quite elegant Greek, utilizing the sophisticate literary style of the diatribe. The book appears to be a general epistle, not written to any specific congregation, and is instructional in nature. It is heavily influenced by the Jewish wisdom tradition. Notice that all the author claims for himself is to be “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” an introduction used by many of the writers of New Testament epistles. It is written to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion—Jewish Christians beyond Palestine. The first issue is trials—obviously written at a time and to a group being persecuted (from within Judaism?) for their faith. Testing of faith produces endurance, and endurance make them mature. The letter picks up the Old Testament theme of wisdom as God’s gift, but now, wisdom is to be asked for in faith and the theme of doubt as the opposite of faith is introduced. Doubters are not faithful and can expect to receive nothing from the Lord. Quickly, the distinction between rich and poor is introduced, with wisdom’s word that wealth will disappear like the flower in the field. Next, we have a blessing upon those who endure temptations and trials (the word can be translated either way). Those who withstand this will receive “the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (This notion of reward for faith made Luther very uneasy, and it is why he argued against this book being included in the New Testament.) James warns: let no one ascribed temptation to God, “for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one.” What tempts or tests us is our own desires (and within that word there is a strong connotation of sexual desires), which then gives birth to sin, and if allowed to come from birth to full life, brings death.

After reminding us of the tax collectors and other notorious sinners included in Jesus’ following, we hear another parable, this the parable of the prodigal father—the parable is misnamed as it is the father who is prodigal with his love. The father has two sons, one immature and profligate, and the older, mature and self-righteous. You know the story. When the profligate has gone through his inheritance and realizes that even his father’s slaves live better lives then he is now living, he comes to his senses and decides to return to his father, beg for forgiveness and ask to become a hired hand. His father, who has been waiting at the door, receives him as a son, forgives him, and celebrates as Jesus said the angels in heaven celebrate when a lost sheep is found or a sinner repents. The father puts his best robe on the son, gives him a ring and sandals and kills the fatted calf to have a banquet. This son who was dead is now alive—another metaphor for repentance. Jesus now shifts to the older son who is out in the field when his younger brother returns. When he sees his father’s response he is outraged, not unlike the Pharisees are outraged at Jesus’ acceptance of the tax collectors and sinners. His father begs him to come to the feast, but the brother stands outside, refusing to associate with the younger brother, and in the ensuing argument some remarkable things are said. The older brother refuses to recognize his relationship to the younger when he says, “this son of yours,” just as the religious officials refuse to see the tax collectors and other sinners as their sisters and brothers. The father responds that the older son is always with him and all that is the father’s is the older son’s as well. But the father must celebrate and rejoice, because “this brother of yours was dead, and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” Why is it that the religious leaders cannot rejoice over sinners coming home and being welcomed back? Why is it that when a notorious or public sinner is forgiven, most Christians are uncomfortable recognizing it an act of grace and think that somehow the sinner has simply “copped a plea?” Why is it the church is so often the last place one finds grace and true acceptance?

Posted November 13, 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Joel 2:12-19; Psalm 81; Revelation 19:11-21; Luke 15:1-10

In the midst of foretelling doom upon the people at the Lord’s return, there is a prophetic interlude that calls upon the people to return to the Lord, repent, rending their hearts rather than their garments (see Exodus 34:6), in acts of true contrition and repentance. Joel calls upon everyone to attend to the fast and solemn assembly, especially the high priests as they go about their duties. Let them weep for the people and plead with the Lord to spare them rather than make them—God’s own heritage—a mockery among the nations. Why should it be said among the people, “Where is their God; why, if he is God, is he allowing this to his own people?” (It is interesting, if not amusing, how the petitioner regularly pleads for mercy, while at the same time, warns the Lord that it is ultimately his own reputation that is at stake.) Who knows: perhaps the Lord will hear and relent, be gracious and filled with mercy, abandon his anger and be constrained by his steadfast love, and relent from punishing the people. The Lord just might even leave a blessing behind him. It appears that the people do repent, for the Lord responds, becomes jealous for his land and had pity on his people (note the past tense—it is a way of saying it is done as far as God is concerned!). In response, the Lord sends a rich harvest of grain, wine and oil to their satisfaction. No more will they be a mockery among the nations. The Lord removes the northern army that had been threatening and drives it into parched and desolate lands, and into the sea, as it goes to its destruction. The image of “northern army” or “troops from the north” is, itself, a reminder of how the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian troops approached Israel from the north to engage it in war.

Psalm 81 calls the people to a liturgical assembly on a festival day. They are to sing, shout for joy, raise a song, sound the musical instruments and blow the shofar (ram’s horn) at the new moon (perhaps the feast of Passover, Pentecost or Tabernacles). The reference to Joseph may mean this was composed in the Northern Kingdom during a Levite reform. The psalm turns prophetic and introduces the voice of God, remembering that he has “relieved [their] shoulder of the burden” of Egypt. They called and God answered. God tested them at the waters of Meribah (Exodus 17). Now, they are to listen, as God admonishes them. If only they would listen! There are to be no strange gods among them, nor are they to bow down to them. This is the Lord speaking, who brought them out of Egypt. If they would but open wide their mouths, the Lord would fill them. But the people did not listen and would not submit. And so, God gave them over to their stubborn hearts. Once again the Lord extends the plea: If only they would listen and walk in God’s ways. Then, God would quickly subject their enemies; turn his hand against their foes, causing those who hate him to cringe. For their own part, God would feed them with the finest of wheat and honey from the rock. It initially seems quite remarkable how often these themes need to appear, causing one to wonder why the people did not respond. But then, the Israelites were making a transition from being a nomadic, pastoral people to those who depended upon agriculture, and Baalism was a fertility religion that focused on Baal insuring the crops. Notice how often the Lord promises to fill them with good things if they but turn to him. Now, think of how easily you and I are drawn away from trusting the Lord when other solutions seem to be at hand and both more tangible and practical.

After all of the “Hallelujahs,” the book turns to seven visions of the consummation. The heavens open and there is a white horse (white being a symbol of victory more than purity) mounted by one called “Faithful and True” who in righteousness judges and makes war. It is the Christ, whose first appearance upon the earth was as a lowly servant who healed, taught, proclaimed the kingdom and welcomed sinners. At this, his second appearing, he comes as a divine warrior decked out in apocalyptic finery—eyes of fire, many diadems reflecting his wide-ranging sovereignty, a secret name that only he knows, and a robe dipped in his own blood—this is the Living Word of God—who has come to wage war on all the enemies of heaven. All of the armies of heaven—the heavenly hosts—follow him, also dressed and mounted on horses witnessing to their triumph. A sharp, two-edged sword issues from Christ’s mouth striking down the nations. As with a word he created, with but a word he now destroys! He rules them with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9). He is “trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” (This is where Julia Ward Howe found the imagery for the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”) It is the wrath of God the Almighty. And on the blood-soaked robe and on his thigh his name is inscribed: “King of kings, and Lord of Lords.” But, there is no battle! There is no need for one; the word issuing from Christ’s mouth is enough, it is done. An angel calls all the birds in mid-heaven to come to the great supper of God—they are to feast on the flesh of the high and mighty and their horses and riders, the flesh of all, both slave and free, small or great, who have been God’s enemies. Then, there is yet another shift—it is simply a different perspective on the same reality—as the beast and the kings of the earth gather with all their armies to make war on the Christ of God and his army. Again, the battle is not described. Rather, the beast (emperor) is captured, and with the false prophet (religious leadership of Rome), the two are thrown alive into the lake of fire, to be totally destroyed forever. The rest who served them were killed in the battle by the Word issuing from the mouth of Christ, and the birds of prey gorged on their slain flesh. If you think this language is abhorrent, then think back on what took place in the arena of the Coliseum, or of how Nero soaked Christians in tar, tied them to poles, set them afire and used them as torches to light his dinner parties. The cruelty of the Romans was inversely proportional to the brilliance of their government and peace. But more, this is less vengeance than God’s justice taking place. The Daily Lectionary will now leave the Book of Revelation for a time—I’m not sure why—but will pick it up at another. Briefly, Chapter 20 is the vision of the millennial reign of the church, where Satan is bound for a thousand years (again, the “thousand years” is symbolic not numeric), then released from prison for a short time, only to be thrown into the lake of fire with the false prophet and the beast, destroyed forever. The Dead are judged and in chapter 21, then comes the new heaven and earth. We will leave a deeper discussion of that for another time.

Within the crowd following Jesus are tax collectors and others considered notorious sinners who have come to listen to him, all who have the Pharisees and scribes grumbling, because not only does Jesus welcome them, but eats with them as well. Meals in that day were a time of establishing social norms, and to eat with sinners was to welcome them into the sphere of your world. As usual, Jesus knows what is on the religious leaders’ minds, so it is time for another parable—the parable of the lost sheep. In a brief tale, Jesus makes the point that God is concerned about each of his sheep and goes looking for them (a shepherd leaving 99 behind in search of one must have astonished the crowd), and when finding it, places it on his shoulder (gesture of rescue), and brings it home rejoicing. He even calls on his neighbors to join him in it. In just this way, there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. So too for the woman who loses one of her ten silver coins; she will turn the house upside down until she finds it. In her searching, she will create such turmoil that all the neighbors will know of her loss as well. But when she finds it, she will gather them and ask them to rejoice with her. Just so, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. So, let the religious leaders grumble if they will; there is joy in heaven over what is taking place here.

Posted November 12, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2104

Joel 2:3-11; Psalm 78:40-72; Revelation 19:1-10; Luke 14:25-35

The theme of the Day of the Lord as a “day of judgment” rather than deliverance continues, and though the locust plague is past, another invading army and its danger to the city is described in graphic terms. The land, once like the Garden of Eden, will be consumed and left a desolate wilderness, and nothing will escape the army’s advance. The invaders appear like war-horses with rumbling chariots leaping on the top of mountains—the absurdity of the imagery, adding to its terror—and flame of fire devouring stubble. As it comes, the people grow pale in anguish but stand motionless, unable to resist, and the warriors charge, and are described in terms reminiscent of the locust’s invasion. This is God’s army coming to destroy God’s enemy—those who were once God’s people. And as God does so, the entire cosmos reacts. God’s victorious voice is heard above it all, making it clear that this is no accident. This is the great Day of the Lord; who can endure it?

Psalm 78:40-72 continues to recount for a later generation how God graciously established them as God’s people, acting to redeem them from Israel, and how their ancestors have behaved so badly in response to God’s goodness until the time God established David as king and Jerusalem as God’s home. The people’s continuing rebellion in the wilderness is recalled, in spite of all that God did for them in Egypt to liberate them. God led them there, as a shepherd cares for his sheep; brought them to God’s holy hill; drove out the nations before them and gave them appointed portions of the land in which to settle. Yet, they continued to test God, rebelling and ignoring God’s decrees and provoking Him by indulging in the worship of their Canaanite neighbors. God abandoned his place in Shiloh, so corrupt with high places had it become, and allowed the ark to be captured by the Philistines, delivering His glory to the hands of the foe. Behind this also lies an allusion to the fall of the northern kingdom to Assyria, with the priests falling by the sword as God vented his wrath. Rather than choose Joseph or Ephraim, the more powerful and noble tribes from the north, God chose Judah—David’s tribe—and, within that tribe’s territory, Mount Zion as God’s dwelling. There God built His sanctuary, a replica of the high heavens, and chose David, taking Him from the sheepfolds, to become the shepherd of all of the people of Jacob, of Israel (Jacob’s other name) and Jacob’s inheritance. With upright heart and skillful hand, David tended them as a faithful shepherd.

As the merchants of the earth weep over Rome’s fall, the inhabitants of heaven shout “Hallelujah!” This section of Revelation is filled with ascriptions of praise, confessions of faith and the hymns of the early church as God’s victory over the powers of evil is celebrated and confirmed. The whore has been judged; Hallelujah! The smoke from that judgment goes up from her forever and ever! Twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fall down in worship, saying “Amen, Hallelujah!” A voice from the throne commands: “Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him small and great.” Out of a voice of a thunderous multitude comes another “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God reigns.” The kingdom for which Jesus has taught his followers to earnestly pray has now come. The marriage of the lamb to his bride, the church, is now to be complete. “She is dressed in the fine linen of the righteous deeds of the saints. Blessed are all who are invited to this feast (the banquet the pious dinner guest alluded to in yesterday’s gospel lesson). The angel turns to John and says, “These are true words of God,” and, at that, John falls at the angel’s feet to worship. But the angel warns John, “You must not do that!” The angel is but a fellow servant with John and his friends who hold the testimony of Jesus. “Worship God!” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy—God’s very word! It is why the church can say, “Hallelujah!” in Jesus’ name.

We have a scene change; Jesus is again traveling with large crowds accompanying him. And so, he turns to them and says, “If those who desire to build towers or go to war against another are prudent enough to account the cost, plan and make other provisions for their work, how much more must you, who want to follow, count the cost?” It means a cross daily, not just once at the end of life. The language of “hate” here is not about emotional anger, but rather, the recognition that Jesus must be first in all relationships, even the primary relationship of family, and there was none—is none—more fundamental in society. The notion of giving up all your possessions is better phrased, “say farewell to all you possess”—including those primary relationships. Discipleship demands singular devotion that places Jesus first before all else. Salt is good, but if it loses its ability to season and preserve it is good for nothing and thrown out. Again, Luke is warning about the need to not only hear but do, and the rejection of those who want the former to stand for the latter.

Posted November 11, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Joel 1:14-2:2; Psalm 79; Revelation 18:15-24; Luke 14:12-24

The alert is sounded: “Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord and cry out.” The aftermath of the locust swarm is a desolate land. Everyone complains, even the animals groan, domestic and wild alike. Formalize the alert: “Blow the ram’s horn in Zion.” The Day of the Lord is here, and as in Amos and Zephaniah, it is a day of judgment—a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness. A great and powerful army comes the likes of which has never been seen before nor will be seen again.

Psalm 79 is a communal lament that reveals the horror in and around Jerusalem when Babylon finally came and destroyed it in 587 BCE, burning the temple to the ground, slaughtering its people and taking its leaders into exile. The psalmist pleads for God to give up his anger and jealous wrath at the people and stop all of the violence. Rather, pour forth that anger on the nations that have plundered Israel, those who do not know the Lord or call upon the Lord’s name. The psalmist now offers an oblique confession of sin, pleading that God not remember against them the sins of their ancestors, but, instead, respond speedily with compassion and help. The Lord is addressed as “The God of our salvation,” and asked to do so for the glory of his name. “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’” Rather, give the nations what they have given us. Avenge us and let the nations know it is your vengeance, and let that be known among them before our eyes—vindicate us! Prayers are offered for God to preserve the prisoners carried off to Babylon who are doomed to die. The psalmist then turns bitter and requests that those around them who taunted them and refused to come to their aid, while they watched Jerusalem under siege, receive seven-fold the taunts with which they taunted the Lord as Jerusalem fell. Notice that it is only after this complete retaliation is accomplished that the psalmist promises to give thanks to the Lord. “Then, we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” The bitterness of the survivors of Jerusalem, and their hatred of those around them who took advantage of their defeat, is clearly resonate in this very human expression of grief and despair. Yet, it is a grief and despair that is still addressed to God. This, too, is the glory of the Psalter and its ability to cast all of life under the sovereignty and mercy of God.

The merchants who have made great wealth selling to the city will stand afar in fear and weeping. In one hour, all this wealth has been laid waste—so fast will be the judgment on her. Shipmasters and seafarers, sailors and all who trade will do the same. They will throw dust on their heads in grief. On the other hand, the heavens with the saints and the apostles are called to rejoice over her destruction. The vengeance that belongs to God alone has now come in judgment upon her. A great millstone is thrown into the sea as a symbol of all that will go down and no longer be found: the musicians, the artists, the artisans of any trade, the joy of ongoing life symbolized by the bride and bridegroom, the merchants and magnates of the earth, all who were deceived by the city’s sorcery will be no more. All of that falls with the fall of Babylon, for in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints and all who have been slaughtered. The judgment is more comprehensive than simply Rome. This is about every nation that rises up against the meek of the earth, and others of God’s people, and pursues power for its own purposes, abusing its subjects rather than serving them.

Jesus is still at the dinner hosted for him by the Pharisee and says to all at table that when they put together a dinner party; who should they invite; the rich, the powerful, the important, all who will be compelled to return the favor? No. Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind—all who are outcasts and cannot repay the favor—and you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. Having heard these instructions on hospitality, one of the dinner guest says, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God,”—a pious statement that all can affirm. Jesus uses it to tell a parable of a great banquet, and does so in such a way that it can be construed as a description of the banquet at the consummation of the kingdom the pious guest has just alluded to, making the point that none of those initially invited will be there, because they have all allowed the cares of the world to get in the way of their obedience and discipleship (remember, these stories are being read aloud in churches gathered in dinner settings). Or, it can be read as a description of someone who has heard and is not acting out the rules for hospitality that Jesus has described earlier in verses 12-14.

Posted November 10, 2014
Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014
Joel 1:1-13; Psalm 34; 1 Corinthians 14:1-12; Matthew 20:1-16

We begin reading the prophet Joel who is a bit of an enigma to biblical scholars in that there are no historical records of him. He is clearly well versed in Israel’s literary tradition and will reference a number of citations, sometimes even having the courage to twist them to produce new meaning. In addition, he is a gifted writer himself, utilizing various stylistic forms in his work. We have no historical record, but internal evidence would suggest that it dates sometime in the 5th century BCE, after the return from Exile and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. It begins with the classic, “The word of the Lord that came to Joel,” whose name means “The Lord is God.” There has been a national disaster, a locust infestation that has brought extraordinary devastation, which Joel interprets as God’s judgment, though he does not name it as such here. Rather, he begins in lament calling on the people to repent. The locusts came in stages, like an invading army and have destroyed everything eatable; grain, grapes, figs, olive and other fruit trees. The elders and others are called to “Wake up!” “Lament like a virgin dressed in sackcloth for the husband of her youth.” It is a particularly poignant image—a virgin’s betrothed has died and left her a widow even before her wedding. All, from the priests ministering in the temple to the vine dressers and field workers are called to put on sackcloth—signs of repentance—and offer prayers of lament.

Psalm 34 is attributed to David, when he feigned madness before king Abimelech so that the king drove David out, allowing David to escape. It is a wisdom psalm built on an acrostic pattern, each new section beginning with a word that begins with the successive letter of the alphabet and focuses on God’s goodness. It uses a number of Hebrew parallelisms, the first phrase making a statement that the second phrase repeats with different language: “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be continually in my mouth.” “O magnified the Lord with me, and let us exalt in his name together.” “Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.” These, of course, have been solidly incorporated in the liturgical language of the church as the Psalter was its first prayerbook. The psalm is testimonial through and through: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me…, look to him and be radiant. …. This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord.” The young are then summoned to listen and learn the fear of the Lord and what it means for their lives. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in sprit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all. …. The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”

One of the problems vexing the church in Corinth was various manifestations of the Spirit among them that they saw as signs of spiritual superiority. None, then or now, has been more troubling than the gift of tongues, a form of ecstatic prayer that is unintelligible but leaves the one doing the praying on an emotional high. In chapter twelve, Paul has identified spiritual gifts, among them the gift of tongues—notice that he does not deny that they are a spiritual gift—but he then urges them to seek the higher gifts, tongues being among the lowest. Paul then cites the hymn on love, pointing to it as the greatest of spiritual gifts. Now, Paul continues to encourage the Corinthians to pursue not only love, but prophecy—what today we call preaching the word—and sets prophecy over tongues as being far superior, because prophecy edifies everyone whereas tongues only edify the one praying. Tongues build up the person, prophecy builds up the church. Paul then does something interesting, saying he wants them all to pray in tongues but, he wants them to prophesy even more. Then, indulging in a musical analogy, he notes that the flute and harp, though lovely, do not give the distinct note of a bugle that gets one ready for battle. So, if all they do is speak in tongues, how will others know what they are saying? If they are eager for spiritual gifts they should strive to excel in those that build up the church. Spirituality is not intended to be personal only, but given for the greater purpose of drawing all people into the love of God in Christ.

Jesus tells the familiar parable about the laborers in the vineyard, some who came at the break of day, others at nine, some at noon, others at three and even some at five in the afternoon. All are sent to the vineyard to work with the promise that, at the end of the day, they will be paid “whatever is right,” and so they go. When the owner of the vineyard returns at the end of the day, he instructs the manager to pay the workers, beginning with those who had come to the field last. Starting there and continuing through all the workers, to those who have worked since sunrise, each is given a day’s pay. Those who have worked all day are outraged believing the owner is not being fair. Well, it is a question of fair from whose perspective! The landowner replies that he has given them what he promised—a day’s wage—what they need for life. Take it and go. Is he not allowed to do what he chooses to do with what is his? Or, are they envious because he is gracious? The last will be first and the first will be last.” Behind this lies the grumbling of those in the church—yes, even the early church had grumblers who complained because of the attention being given to newcomers, and who thought that having been there from the beginning warranted them some special merit. The tragedy is manifold: clearly, they have never understood the blessing of being in the vineyard in the first place, much less the fact that they serve someone committed to seeing that everyone gets what they need—even them! Behind such notions of meritocracy in the church lies a loathing of God’s grace.  God is too good to give us what we have earned, but rather, what we need!

Posted November 9, 2014
The Rev. Dr.       Fred R. Anderson

Author: The Rev. Dr.       Fred R. Anderson
Created: June 21, 2012

The Rev. Dr. Fred R. Anderson, Pastor of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, offers thoughts on today’s lectionary readings.

© 2014