Monthly Archives: June 2008

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

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“Where You Look”

Matthew 10:5a, 21-33

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It all depends on where you look. Turn your gaze inward for a moment. Look at yourself; examine your life. How it look? Better: how does it look from God’s perspective? Because if God has numbered every hair on your head, then He certainly takes account of your life and actions, every one of them. Now you may find that hard to believe. You may say to yourself, “God doesn’t care what I am doing every minute of every day.” You might even think that He is not able to keep track of every person’s actions. But if you think so, you have to reckon with Jesus’ words, the words of the Man who is God Himself, and He says this: “Two sparrows are sold for an assarion, aren’t they? And one of them does not fall to the earth apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29). An assarion was one-sixteenth of a day’s wages; so if the work day is eight hours, then an assarion is the pay for half an hour. “Two for a penny” is not quite right; it might be more accurate to say that one sparrow is worth fifteen minutes of work. Still not very much. But here’s the point: if God’s eye is on every single sparrow, and if you are worth more than many sparrows, then His eye is certainly on you. You could pretend that God does not see what you do when you are alone, but you would be deceiving yourself. You may leave this building and not give another thought to God until next week, but the Mind of God never forgets you. Say it to yourself: “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

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Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

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Laborers for His Harvest

Matthew 9:35-10:8

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Pray, disciples, that the Lord of the harvest would send out laborers into His harvest fields. That was the instruction that Jesus gave to His followers. Looking out over the crowds gathering to be healed, Jesus saw the helplessness of the people He had created. He saw how they were harassed and beaten down under the weight of their sin and the sin of others. And He had compassion for them, the truest sympathy. He knows, because He is a man, what it is to experience the limitations and effects of being human. He also knows, because He is God, what the deepest need of humans really is: to be gathered by the Good Shepherd into a place of safety and rest. I can imagine the Twelve nodding at Jesus’ words. Perhaps Peter gathered the other disciples and they prayed at that very moment for God to send laborers into His harvest. And then notice how God answers their prayer in Matthew 10, verse 1: “[Jesus] called to him his twelve disciples” and gave them His own authority over unclean spirits and every disease and affliction. Verse 5: “These twelve Jesus sent out….” The Twelve Apostles, named in Matthew 10:2-4, were the ones whom God chose as His first laborers into the ripe harvest fields of Israel. Later, in chapter 28, Jesus would send the representatives of His Church into the field that is the whole world. Be careful, disciples, what you pray for! You may be God’s answer to your own prayer!

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Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

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“The Sacrifice of Mercy”

Matthew 9:9-13

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Here we sit, around the table at which Christ is present, and He speaks to us of the sick and the healthy, the sinner and the righteous. Some of us think that we are too sick to be healed. Our sin is too much and mercy is too small. No one knows the sins we have committed, with our eyes and hands, our minds and hearts; if anyone did know, we would be ostracized, cut off from others by disapproving looks and whispered gossip. And we do not want to be exposed, so we let our sin burn us up from the inside rather than confess it and be healed. Some of us think we are too healthy to see a physician. Sure, we have an occasional mild cough of spitefulness or the common cold of elevating ourselves above obvious sinners, both small and great. But no one would ever think of including us among them. People know us, and they approve. We sacrifice our money and time, and we will always be seen as the backbone of our community and our church.

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Third Sunday after Pentecost

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False Prophets on the Narrow Way

Matthew 7:15-29

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“For the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:14, ESV). My brothers and sisters in Christ, there is life at the end of the tunnel. I am only beginning to get to know you and, for many of you, I don’t know if your life has been hard or easy. I know some of you have faced challenge after challenge, setback after setback, sickness after sickness, death after death. Whether that is the case in your life, most of us have had times in our lives when the way that leads to that life at the end of the tunnel seems to constrict around us, pressing in on us, squeezing the breath from our lungs. Whatever your particular circumstances and experiences, you were each put together with the rest of us because you, like us, were baptized into the new life of Jesus Christ. We walk together on the same baptismal path until Jesus completes our baptism in death and resurrection at the end of time. Nevertheless, the way that leads to the gate of life is hard. The physical, psychological, and emotional challenges certainly add to the difficulty of that way, and the devil is not above using such experiences to pull you off the road. But in our text for today, Jesus tells us of another demonic obstacle on the path to the fullness of life: false prophets.

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