21 September 2014
Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 20A (RCL)
Exodus 16:2-15
Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45
Philippians 1:21-30
Matthew 20:1-16

There’s a lot of grumbling in our readings this Sunday. The Israelites grumble about being in the desert, and the workers in the vineyard grumble about others receiving the same wage. There is a lot of grumbling in congregational life as well. I wonder what we can learn about our grumbling. Continue reading “Grumbling”

Privilege or grace?

Sunday 14 September 2014
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 19A (RCL)
Exodus 14:19-31
Psalm 114
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 18:21-35

Our readings present us with two very different reactions to power. In the Old Testament reading, Israel passes through the Red Sea on dry ground, and rejoices to see the corpses of their oppressors washing up on the shore. In the Gospel, the master is at first merciful, and then extracts vengeance on the servant who did not pay his mercy forward.

I’ve always been troubled by the arrogance of that can creep in to a concept of election as God’s special people. Continue reading “Privilege or grace?”

Community rule

7 September 2014
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 18A (RCL)
Exodus 12:1-14
Psalm 149
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20

The NRSV does a bad bit of translation with this passage in Matthew. The opening sentence is “If another member of the church sins against you.” The Greek has adelphos, brother. If we’re going to try to be inclusive and accurate, a better translation would be, “If a brother or sister sins against you.” The word “church” is jarring on the lips of Jesus. There was no church at the time of Jesus. A couple of chapters ago, Jesus tells Peter, after his confession of the Jesus as the Christ, “on this rock I will build my church” — future tense.

However, Jesus does speak this word in this passage: first go to your brother the two of you alone; then take one or two others; and then take the matter to the church. Matthew Continue reading “Community rule”