Wayne A. Strohschein Pastor
14th Sunday after Pentecost
Conflict is a part of relationships and life in community. Jesus’ words in today’s gospel are often used in situations having to do with church discipline. The prophet Ezekiel tells of warning the wicked to turn from their ways, and Paul reminds us that love is the fulfilling of the law. We gather in the name of Christ, assured that he is present among us with gifts of peace and reconciliation.
You have heard (or read) the gospel lesson. What do you think? Do you want to say – skip it, it doesn’t apply to today. We don’t, can’t, do things that way today. Or do you think there might be a gem there if we dig a little deeper?
Before we simply dismiss it as not applicable anymore let us go back to the question that the disciples raised to which this is part of Jesus long answer. The question posed by the disciples was: “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus gave multiple responses to that question of which today’s gospel is one of them.
As we look at this lesson we find Jesus is giving an insight into the nature of God and thus into His nature. I would have you read Exodus 12:1-14 and listen for the insight it gives on Matthew’s story.
Note if you will the remarks about the time of the year. This event and all its remembrance from then on take place at the beginning of the year, the first month of the year. That is very significant. On this first month of the new year God is beginning a new period of time in human history, and God communicates this in a joyful message; He is beginning a new historic era in the life and history of Israel. Against the backdrop of Israel’s suffering in slavery at the hand of Pharaoh and now the wailing of the Egyptians, in comes from the future this promise of deliverance and a future life. It is a powerful promise that comes in the midst of the sin filled and broken life that is Israel’s story and ours.
They are to have this rememberance celebration for all time henceforth. It becomes the backbone of their history. For Jews this Passover celebration remains alive and formative as much today as in centuries past. For Christians, this Passover story is understood in light of Christ’s own death and resurrection, as the lamb who was slain (1 Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29, 36).
As Ezekiel says: “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11).
God’s judgment and God’s promise are together God’s Word to us and the world.
Happy Anniversary to Darrell and LuAnn Kochis, married on Sept. 11. Happy Birthday to both Ed Wittorff, born on Sept.14 and Alice Sturgeon, born on Sept. 15.
Council will meet immediately following worship today.
Naomi circle will have a guest speaker from Options Pregnancy at its regular meeting on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
Bible study and Sunday school are at 9:30 Sunday with worship at 10:45 followed by pot luck.