Sermons

March 29, 2018 – Holy Thursday

Posted by on Apr 3, 2018 in Sermons | 0 comments

Holy Thursday March 29, 2018 ************************** Reflection Lent began, Ash Wednesday – with the sign of ashes on our brows in the shape of a cross – and the taste of ashes in our hearts – the cries of those slain that day in Parkland, Florida ringing in our ears – with tears of families, friends and people everywhere joined with them in weeping and prayer… Reminded so starkly of our human condition… And the depths of our need for God. Others, around the world, also suffer… just as deeply… But there is something in the loss of a child… that breaks our hearts beyond words… If life lately sometimes feels as if we’re at the end of the world – with the world in disastrous breakdown and perpetual crisis… Probably this is how life felt for Jesus and his first disciples also… that first Holy Week… As if time flowing in all directions – past, present, future all intermingled – as if the world has already ended…  With God our Father’s beloved child… dying on the cross… Yet, Jesus and the apostle’s tell us – this is not the end – this is the birth-pangs of God’s new world coming into being… and… We’re not even formally at the cross till tomorrow – though Jesus has been talking about himself on the cross all the while we’ve been with him… We have see him there already… from many angles… As we’ve journeyed with Jesus through his wilderness temptations and testings… As we’ve journeyed with him vicariously through his years of ministry in Galilee, Judea,  Samaria… And into the holy city, Jerusalem, where Jesus spends his last week, Holy Week, teaching – making ready disciples – to continue his work when he is taken up – lifted up – from among us. Now, tonight, we’re with Jesus at his last supper – hearing again his last instructions – as he prepares to return to God the Father. Jesus reminds us – eat this bread, drink this cup. Eat my body, drink my blood. Do this in remembrance of me. We’ve been reminded by John the gospel writer (as we’ll be reminded by other apostles) – the good Shepherd of the sheep is also the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – also the bread of life who came down from heaven to give life to the world. Mixed metaphors abound with Jesus. Eat this bread, drink this cup. Come to me and never be hungry. Eat this bread, drink this cup. Trust in me and you will not thirst.  The Word of life is also the bread of life. We need Jesus in our heart, mind and soul. We need Jesus bodily also. We need his life, his teaching, his presence with us in our flesh and blood… Jesus has prayed to God the Father we’ll all be one. (He’s even told us we’ll do greater things than he’s done, together. Which is only possible because he will still be with us…) Together we are the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood. Called and blessed to keep making Jesus real for all the world that God still so loves… despite the world’s denial of God and Jesus… Tonight again we’ve renewed our vows...

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March 25, 2018 – Palm Passion Sunday

Posted by on Apr 3, 2018 in Sermons | 0 comments

Palm-Passion Sunday    March 25, 2018   Psalm 118, John 12:12-16, Mark 14-15 ***************************************************************** If we remember just one thing today – I hope it will be – Stay with me – remain here with me – watch and pray – watch and pray. We’ve sung these words spoken by Jesus. Stay with me. Remain with me. Watch and pray with me. One of the simplest things Jesus asks us to do. Yet it can be difficult to stay close to someone suffering. Keeping company with people suffering didn’t come naturally for me. I’ve had to learn by doing over the years. Being willing to share in the suffering of others (of course) is part of our job description as Christians. Jesus tells us love one another. It’s his first commandment. And I’ve learned… being there for people in the midst of difficulties and suffering is a very big part of what it means to love. And what Jesus asks from us is really not so hard, in perspective. Even though I’m a slow learner, I do want to spend time with those I love when they’re  hurting. And the vicarious suffering Jesus asks us to share with him in Holy Week is small indeed compared with his own actual experience. Jesus has been through the worst imaginable for us… And – we’ve already accompanied him to the cross and the grave today. Remaining with him through the rest of this holy week ought to be less difficult. Especially as we understand… The worst pain for Jesus is not being beaten and whipped… nor even the nails of the cross. The worst pain for Jesus…. is his friends denying him and fleeing away… and being left alone. That’s why he asks us – Stay with me – remain here with me – watch and pray – watch and pray. Last week I came across a meditation by Pastor Anne Jernberg (written for Christian Century magazine) about a retreat in a monastery she participated in.  She writes, “I was on my knees in a monastery…. imagining being in the garden of Gethsemane as the brothers and other worshipers and I gathered and sang the Taize refrain “Stay with me – remain here with me – watch and pray – watch and pray” over and over again. It was then that I realized that Jesus needed me to walk with him…” (She continues–) “I had come to the monastery that evening for a brief respite from my studies. I left four hours later with bruised knees, an aching back, a raspy voice and a growling stomach. To top it off, I felt guilty because I didn’t stay through the night. (The brothers began singing that night and continued to sing in shifts until the Good Friday service the following afternoon.)” But, she says – …“I experienced something that night. [As–] Someone read the words Jesus prayed in the garden, “Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done”… we were instructed to get on our knees and begin singing. That was it – one brief scripture followed by 18 hours of singing four simple phrases.” “Some sang the phrases through a few times and then got up and left… others lasted longer…. The length...

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March 18, 2018

Posted by on Mar 27, 2018 in Sermons | 0 comments

Lent 5   March 18, 2018   Psalm 29, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 5:5-10, John 12:20-36a   We want to see Jesus *************************************************************** People come saying, “we want to see Jesus.” And Jesus tells us what life looks like…. When we look to him – and see him – as he is. We never actually get to hear the reactions of these seekers from afar who come to see Jesus. So we’re left wondering – did they turn their lives around and follow Jesus? Or did they turn tail and hurry home – as soon as they got a glimpse of Jesus – and heard him telling what it’s like to follow him? We’re left to wonder. And I admire the way John’s gospel leaves the story open-ended – like get-your-picture-taken-here-with-Jesus – if you want to know how the story ends. The end of the story in fact depend somewhat on us… And our willingness to see… what God is doing in Jesus Christ. *** As we rejoin our story in progress – here’s Jesus – who up to now has been saying  many times “my hour has not yet come” (my time’s not up) – now saying “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” The words glorify and glorified (each word heard twice) play key harmonic roles in the melody of the story. And it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out what Jesus means by glorify… as he says – unless a grain of wheat falls to earth and dies its just a single grain, but if it dies it bears much fruit – and – Those who love their life in this world will lose their life – while those who love God more than life will keep their life for eternal life – and – Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am my servants will be also. Now it’s not so hard to see where Jesus is heading… And – do we still want to see Jesus? *** We’re coming up on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Author Cornel West says at the time of his death 78% of Americans, including 50% of Black Americans, did not approve of Dr King. Many regarded Rev King favorably when he was just preaching non-violent integration and reconciliation. As long as he was preaching just the first part of our Thought for the Week: “The Christian gospel… seeks to change the souls of men and thereby unite them with God” – many were willing to say amen. Not so many looked favorably on Rev King when he began advocating radical change in the American economy – preaching the second part of our Thought for the Week – “(the Christian gospel also) seeks to change the environmental conditions of man so the soul will have a chance after it is changed…” Reverend, now you’ve gone from preaching to meddling. Many were glad to follow Jesus when he was multiplying loaves and fishes, feeding the multitudes and healing the sick. Not so many kept following…. when he began letting it be known he is the Son of God as well as the Son of Man… Not so many were eager to follow when Jesus turned over...

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March 11, 2018

Posted by on Mar 27, 2018 in Sermons | 0 comments

Lent 4  March 11, 2018  Psalm 107, Numbers 21:4-9, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21        ***************************************************************** For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son – so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. The most popular verse in the whole bible, according to several recent surveys. I wonder if the verse would be quite as popular – if we spent more time looking at its back-story – of Jesus comparing himself with a bronze snake on a pole – the image Israelites were told to gaze upon in order to survive actual snake bite. Gazing at the image-of-the-snake-that-bit-you sounds suspiciously close to the old infamous hangover remedy of downing a bloody Mary on the morning after. Not exactly what I’d normally expect God to be telling us to do, when we’ve sinned grievously against God and God’s appointed leader, Moses. And this certainly wasn’t the cure for snakebite Israel asked for… But it worked. So – if Jesus wants to compare himself lifted up with the bronze serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness, I won’t argue. I’ll keep looking to Jesus. I’ve read the whole story. I know he’s talking about himself lifted up on the cross. I’ll try to keep looking to Jesus there… Though it hurts even to imagine the suffering he went through. But if this is what Jesus says it takes to be saved – I’ll keep looking and listening to the back-story… and the whole story as it continues… *** Somewhere between eight and eleven rebellions against God are recorded (depending on how we count) in this book called Numbers – officially because of it’s two extended censuses of Israel. But for God it’s all about heartaches by the number, troubles by the score… (as the poet of old Ray Price sang of a one-sided love affair)… Israel whines and complains repeatedly, even as God provides water from a rock, quails to eat, and manna-bread fresh every morning, ample food for the journey. And God is perennially slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. But when Israel claims A) we have no food – and B) our food tastes awful – God’s patience wears thin. God sends a plague of snakes that recalls the plagues that God previously afflicted Egypt with… And I’ve been remembering sitting in Steve’s Diner in Allston, one night when I was in seminary at BU. A man at the counter who appeared to be homeless and intoxicated was complaining about the food. Steve, behind the counter, cooking and serving said, “I’ve been feeding you all these years and… Not even charging you. And you’re complaining about my food.” Talk about ingratitude! And when Jesus compares his own future lifting up on the cross with Israel’s snake-on-a-pole remedy – I hear this as Jesus strongly suggesting that all the world is in need of a remedy as strangely extreme as that prescribed by God for Israel of old. Ingratitude and disobedience in other words are embedded in the human condition. Like Israelites of old, we too are in need of extreme measures if we are to be healed and saved. The symptoms of our sin vary widely. But as Ephesians tells us – we’re all  dead in sin until...

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March 4, 2018

Posted by on Mar 27, 2018 in Sermons | 0 comments

Lent 3   March 4, 2018    Psalm 84, Exodus 40:1-3,16-17, 34-38; 1 Corinthians 3:10-17  John 2:13-22  [Partial notes, from before power went out in the storm that weekend.] As people made in the image of God we’re wired for worship. Gifted with built-in yearning for worship – in the largest sense of the word – worship meaning loving, serving, thanking, praising, acknowledging God as the center of our being. Acknowledging our need of God – and seeking God’s guidance in all we do. And – regardless of all of our differences in how we understand biblical accounts and church doctrines of the fall or universal sin – few will argue against all the evidence that strongly suggests – we all come with some wiring issues. (Though I don’t recommend pointing this out unwisely – telling anyone “hey buddy you’ve got your wires crossed…” or “ excuse me ma’am, I’m noticing your spiritual wiring is dysfunctional.”) But as soon as left the garden the worship wars began… Cain making his offering, Abel making his, and God preferring one over the other…  We’re not going to go there today, except to notice – alongside all the excellent blessings that flow from good worship, worship has also probably always carried with it the potential for conflict. And we may remember – Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell this story of Jesus driving merchants and money-changers out of the temple very near the end of their gospels, letting us know this is one of the main reasons Jesus is crucified by the religious and political authorities of his day. The powers that be did not appreciate Jesus’ worship offering – nor did even his closest disciples understand his offering… Till he raises up the temple of his body. And to oversimplify a bit in the interests of time and keeping our focus on Jesus we can notice that from the beginning we are both wired for worship and also learning the arts of worship – as we travel along in the stages of faith and grace with Jesus. John’s gospel starts where the other gospels leave off – and tells the story in a rather different chronological order – John placing this temple clean up story near the beginning not the end – which is one of John’s ways of telling us – Jesus and his gospel can’t be contained in just a linear chronological way of telling. And John’s gospel also starts up way before all the other gospels – telling us Jesus is the Word who was with God in the beginning… Through whom all things have been made… And the Word became flesh and lived among us – and the word for lived among us in the original language uses is actually became flesh and tabernacled among us. The tabernacle being one of the other names for the same tent of presence we hear of in Exodus in our first reading. This big tent takes a year or so to build, and the tent houses the arc of the covenant and the altar for sacrifices and the golden lamp-stand… And the presence of God fills the tent with cloud and light too thick for Moses to enter when it’s first set up and commissioned… And as God leads Israel through the...

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February 25, 2018

Posted by on Mar 4, 2018 in Sermons | 0 comments

Lent 2  February 25, 2018 Psalm 22, Genesis 17:1-7,15-17; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Mark 8:31-9:1 ******************************************************** ‘Get behind me Satan,’ Jesus tells Peter. ‘You’re thinking like the world, not like God.’ Just before where we began reading today, Jesus asks disciples “who do people say I am?” They reply: ‘Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, some say one of the prophets. “But who do you say I am?” Jesus asks. And first-round-draft-choice disciple Peter blurts out “you are the Messiah, the Christ.” (Messiah- Christ, same word in Hebrew and in Greek.) Right answer. But immediately Jesus is teaching that he must be rejected by religious leaders, suffer much, and be killed… and on the third day rise from the dead.  Suffering and death aren’t in the job description of the Messiah most of us have been expecting. (And rising from the dead doesn’t seem to register.) And Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes him. Jesus rebukes Peter back, in front of all the disciples, saying “get behind me Satan.” And the Christ-without-a-cross option Peter proposes does sound suspiciously like some of the temptations Satan offered in the wilderness. (Where we were with Jesus just last week.) And half way through Mark’s gospel, now, Jesus tells us – anyone who wants to be my disciple must take up their cross, deny themself, and follow me… The cross was the Roman Empire’s cruelest form of execution, reserved for murderers and insurrectionists, designed to cause maximum pain and humiliation. Those condemned to crucifixion were stripped, whipped, and forced to carry their  cross-beam through crowds to the place of execution. It’s difficult to translate the intentional horror of the original cross – which has become so familiar in domesticated form in our culture. “Take up your electric chair and follow” doesn’t quite work; as the  electric chair is meant to be quick and less painful. “Follow me; be lynched with me” might work. Lynching, the means of torture most employed in our nation as a means of terror over the centuries, is closest… to the cross. Take up your cross is a metaphor designed to shock. Not always meant to be taken literally – but all the first disciples of Jesus knew – dying with Jesus was a very literal possibility for them. They probably mean it… when they swear they’re ready to die with Jesus…. We know how hard it is to do all that we mean to do… We know Peter will deny he even knows Jesus three times in one night… while other disciples flee… and Jesus goes to the cross… alone. ********* This commandment to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Jesus is not exactly one of my favorite verses in the bible. But as John Wesley, our Methodist ancestor, said: “If we do not continually deny ourselves, we do not learn of Him, but of other masters. If we do not take up our cross daily, we do not come after Him, but after the world, or the prince of the world, or our own fleshly mind. If we are not walking in the way of the cross, we are not following Him…” Self-denial doesn’t come easily or naturally for most of us. Even Billy Graham said he was much more interested in baseball than...

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February 18, 2018

Posted by on Mar 4, 2018 in Sermons | 0 comments

Lent 1   February 18, 2018   Ps 25, Genesis 9:8-17, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:9-15  In the wilderness ************************************************************** Every year on the first Sunday in Lent, we head for the wilderness… Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels all tell the story of Jesus tempted by Satan forty days in the wilderness. St Matthew and St Luke talk about Jesus fasting for the whole forty days, and describe the temptations offered by Satan. But St Mark tells the wilderness temptation story in barely two sentences – saying nothing about Jesus fasting – nor giving any description of Jesus’ testing. But Mark does tell us – the same Holy Spirit who descends on Jesus like a dove in his baptism –  now immediately drives him out into the wilderness for forty days, where he’s tempted by Satan. And Mark alone among the gospel writers tells us – Jesus is with the wild animals – and the angels wait on him. Then with barely a pause – John the baptizer’s arrested – and Jesus is back in Galilee, proclaiming “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is near. Repent! Turn your life around! Believe the good news!” Mark, the gospel writer (the word gospel means good news) has his own sparsely-worded-way-of-telling-the-story. Mark uses words like “immediately,” “right away,” and “at once” so often it can sound as if the whole story’s one-long-run-on-sentence. Which is probably intentional to grab our attention – and get us pondering life’s short span and our need to not wait, but get with Jesus now, while we can… Right away… But this speeded-up-telling-of-the-story sounds a little extra strange here – as we’re talking about hurrying immediately to be spending forty days with God in the wilderness. An activity which surely demands slowing life down… Yet St Mark is describing life today. A recent issue of Christian Century magazine has an advertisement from a Trappist monastery that says – Be a monk. For a month. For a year. Suggesting – We’ll work with you around your schedule and whatever amount of time you can make. (And I won’t be surprised if next month the message will be tweaked to say: Be a monk. For an hour. Half a day. While you’re sleeping…) And I’m pretty sure I’d have to be forcibly driven by the  Spirit, like Jesus, to be able to even begin to seriously plan a forty day retreat. Mark’s gospel tells the story in a bit of a hurry… even when Jesus is on retreat with the angels and wild animals… And we may notice – Mark gives no indication of whether these animals are fierce or friendly. Mark likes to leave those details to our imagination, like a spiritual Rorschach Test. Interpreters over the centuries have imagined it both ways. And probably both fierce and friendly are in play… Mountain lions, bears and wolves can be dangerous. Yet we also have Isaiah’s vision (Isaiah 40, 65) of God’s peaceable kingdom – where the wolf and lion and bear live in divine harmony with cows, sheep and people. The danger is real. The opportunity for grace is even more real. Likewise the temptations and testings from Satan are real. (The same biblical word means both tempting and testing.) But the presence of God’s angels and God’s Spirit...

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October 22, 2017

Posted by on Oct 27, 2017 in Sermons | 0 comments

Pentecost 20 October 22, 2017  Psalm 67, Isaiah 58:6-12, 1 John 3:1-2,16-18, John 15:8-17          Be fruitful **************************************************** The first commandment ever given (to people) in the first chapter of the bible, is to be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over the fish. Most of you know – I’m ready to fish at a moment’s notice. But even I have to admit – probably fruitfulness is supposed to come first – then fishing. There’s an order of priority here. Fruitfulness comes first. And the fruitfulness God is talking about is not just biological reproduction. Remember, God has already commanded the fish and birds to be fruitful and multiply, before God even makes humans. And if humans are supposed to be closer to God than fish (which might be a big assumption, but if so – ) probably God has higher things in mind for people than just biological reproduction. Nothing wrong with that. We still need to reproduce physically for life on earth to continue. But as we read on in the bible, we learn God is mostly interested in spiritual fertility. Jesus speaks of bearing fruit that befits repentance. Changed lives are the evidence of faith… The fruit of the Spirit, Galatians tells us, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… and… The fruit Jesus is talking about today is spiritual fruit – all the results that come with following him – helping him in the sowing, watering, weeding, and nurturing of the seeds of faith he’s planting… Abiding in the true vine of Jesus, pruned, fertilized, watched over by God the Gardener…this is how we bear fruit that lasts. And we’re talking about fruitfulness today because… Today is the third and last Sunday in this year’s stewardship series. Stewardship means taking care of something. Christian stewardship is about the care we take with all God has entrusted us with – meaning every good thing we have in life. Two weeks ago we began by considering prayer as our basic foundation for all stewardship. We spent a little time together in small groups practicing praying for each other and our church and God’s world… Last week we heard from Gary Melville of the United Methodist Foundation of New England. Gary’s sermon used the metaphor of a river as a way of talking about stewardship – letting God’s love flow through us, like a river of grace – not dammed or bottled-up, but flowing through us, making us stewards of the life of God. Gary nailed it. I can’t think of much to add to what he said about  stewardship. So this week, let’s just take time to review the ministries of our parish – asking ourselves – Are we fruitful? Are we bearing good fruit for God? *** I’m going to be naming many of our ministries of our parish – as I name each, I’ll be asking all of us to be in prayer for each ministry. Then I’ll be calling on one or a few of you to speak briefly about each of these ministries… Not really to explain it all, or give a detailed report, but just to say a little about what makes this ministry important for you, for us, and for others. (I’m mindful that some of these ministries are...

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October 8, 2017

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in Sermons | 0 comments

Pentecost 18   October 8, 2017   Psalm 143, Philippians 4:4-7, Psalm 130, Matthew 6:9-15,25-33, 7:7-11                    **************************************************** Author Annie Dillard has written about church, saying, (quote): “we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.” Life with Jesus, in other words, is an adventure, a bit like a sailing around Cape Horn in a storm. An adventure in the overthrow of the world order as we know it. Which is really also what The Lord’s Prayer is all about. Every time we say this prayer we’re asking for God’s revolution to be accomplished… Every time we say “Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven…” we’re asking God to turn the world upside down. Most of us, I suspect, have probably said this prayer so many times that we have built up a little immunity to fully hearing everything we’re asking. But every time we pray Our Father in heaven… We’re calling on God to do the ultimate radical make-over of all the world. Consider– In the world we’re told, directly or indirectly – look out for number one – we ourselves, and those who think like us. But in the prayer Jesus gives us, we’re told to give all glory to the name of God. God alone is ultimate and above all. God’s name alone is to be kept holy. And every time we pray God’s kingdom come – God’s will be done – we’re also saying – not my will (or your will or our will) – but God’s will be done – not just in heaven, bye and bye – but here on earth as it is in heaven… And every time we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” we’re actually also asking God to not give us everything we imagine we might like or want – but to give us really all we need to live on. This prayer isn’t about piling up surplus for a rainy day future. It’s about everyone having enough for today. Everyone, not just us. Because… We pray give us our daily bread. And forgive us our debts – our sins, transgressions, trespasses. And perhaps to remind ourselves – we don’t want to be asking good things for our ourselves that we’re not asking also for others, we pray – forgive us our debts, our sins, our trespasses, as we forgive all those indebted to us – all who sin or trespass against us… And lead us not into temptation. (I know how to get there all by myself.) But bring us through every testing – every time of trial. Deliver us from every evil, as only you, O Lord our God, can do. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are all yours, Lord, not ours… This prayer, from start to finish, is never about me, myself, and I. It’s always about our God (not my God), our daily bread (not my bread alone but ours), and our debts forgiven. This prayer is for all of us together – as we pray Our Father in heaven, your name be hallowed, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. *** The Lord’s Prayer is our basic...

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October 1, 2017

Posted by on Oct 6, 2017 in Sermons | 0 comments

Pentecost 17 October 1, 2017 (Psalm 25, Deuteronomy 6:1-7, Philippians 2:4-13) Matthew 21:12-17,23-32    One father, two children ********************************************************* Every morning at breakfast time our family has a prayer we sing together – “Help us to do the things we should – to be to others kind and good – in all we do at work and play, to grow more loving every day. Amen.” Help us to do the right thing, Lord. A simple little prayer. And… Jesus tells a parable that sounds almost as simple. “…A man has two sons. He says to one, “Son, go, work in the vineyard today.” The son says “I’m not going.” But later, changes his mind and goes. The second son says, “Yes dad, I’m on my way.” But doesn’t go. Which child does the will of the father?” For context, remember – Jesus has come into town on a donkey, acclaimed by crowds as Son of David. He’s entered the temple courts and chased merchants and money changers out and healed the blind and lame. Children sing his praises–again, naming him Son of David, Israel’s favorite king. Now religious authorities, scribes and chief priests – those who think they have power and authority in the temple – question Jesus: “Where do you get this authority? Who gave it to you?” (It sure wasn’t give by us…) If Jesus says ‘my authority comes from God’ he will be accused of blasphemy, and probably executed. Jesus will go there very soon. But he still has some teaching to do. So Jesus says “I will ask you a question – and if you answer – I will also tell you where my authority comes from. The baptism of John – where did it come from? From heaven? Or from people?” Religious leaders huddle together. “If we say ‘from heaven’ he’ll ask, ‘then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say‘from people,’ all the crowds who believe John was a prophet will turn on us…’ So they say, “We don’t know.” And Jesus says, “Neither will I tell you, then, where my authority comes from.” And he asks, “What do you think?” And tells a parable of two children and two responses to the one Father’s command. Which do you think did the will of the father? And even those who question Jesus have to say “the first one.” And Jesus concludes by naming the religious authorities as the second son, who says the right words, but doesn’t do what’s asked. While tax collectors and prostitutes who have repented at John the Baptist’s preaching are compared with the first child. ‘They,’ Jesus says, ‘will enter the kingdom of heaven before you leaders who have not repented – even when you see what repentance looks like.” *** In the exodus out from slavery, God tells Israel, I am making you a nation of priests (Exodus 19)… But twelve-hundred-some years later, like in George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm – some priests are now more priestly and privileged than others. By the time of Jesus, the power elite of Israel have formed an alliance with Rome, the new Egypt, the Empire of the day. Now its hard to tell ‘our’ priests apart from those who oppressed us in the land of slavery. Last week Jesus told a...

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