Forging a new authority

23 October 2011
Nineteenth Sunday after Epiphany
Proper 25 A (RCL)
Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Matthew 22:34-46

I find it surprising that I can read the same passage from Scripture (and preach on it) many times in a row, and never quite be hit by what it’s saying. For years, I’ve preached on this passage from Matthew, and never noticed how disjointed the two sayings seem when juxtaposed to each other. We have the saying about the two great commandments and the saying about the Christ as David’s son (or not). I don’t ever recall preaching on the second part of this; I think we all usually get distracted by the “love your neighbor as yourself” bit. So, why do Matthew and Mark place these two sayings together?

I think it comes down to a question of authority. Continue reading “Forging a new authority”

Giving God what’s God’s

16 October 2011
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 24A (RCL)
Exodus 33:12-23
Psalm 99
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22

Jesus’ response to the question of the Pharisees and Herodians works on many levels, and forces us to think about the nature of our relationships with our government, our economy and God. When Jesus asks the Pharisees whose image is on the coin (the NRSV translates “head”), he uses the same word (eikon) that the Septuagint uses for the image in which God created humankind: Let us create humankind in our eikon. The understanding at the time was that all money belonged to the emperor, and he could call it back whenever it pleased him. Often, that happened in order to debase the currency, to dilute the silver in it with other metals, in order to make more money.

It raises the question for us of how money works. Our money, of course, is paper, Continue reading “Giving God what’s God’s”

Give and Take

9 October 2011
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 23A (RCL)
Exodus 32:1-14
Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

Last week, in my sermon, I said I wish I could use a razor blade to remove the parable of the vineyard and the tenants, with its idea of Christianity superceding Judaism, from the Bible. The same goes for Matthew’s telling of the parable of the wedding feast. I like the impulse to invite people off the street to fill the banquet hall, but the retribution in the story just seems un-divine. And, it breaks the original story — how long would it take to besiege and conquer the city? How long is that food sitting around before the feast? Matthew allegorizes Mark’s parable and turns it into an accusation against Israel, blaming them for the destruction of their own city.

The Exodus story tells a very different story Continue reading “Give and Take”