Tag Archives: commandments

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost: Proper26

Track 1: Your God Shall Be My God

Ruth 1:1-18
Psalm 146
Hebrews 9:11-14
Mark 12:28-34

Elimelech, his wife Naomi, an Israelite family from Bethlehem – and their sons Mahlon and Chilion – emigrated to the nearby country of Moab to escape a famine in Judah.  Elimelech died, and the sons married two Moabite women: Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah.

After about ten years, the two sons of Naomi also died in Moab. Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem. She told her daughters-in-law to return to their own mothers and remarry/ Reading from Ruth:

“See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”   (Ruth 1:15)

Orpah reluctantly left. However, Ruth said,

“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!

Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;

your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.

Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.

May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,

if even death parts me from you!”   (Ruth 1:16-17)

Clearly, Ruth loved Naomi. She saw something in Naomi that she did not have. The Moabites had a culture of sacrificing their children to false gods. They  practiced incantations and curses. Ruth did not know the God of Naomi, but she was willing to seek him.

In today’s Gospel, a scribe saw something in Jesus that attracted him. He had seen the way Jesus had handled the questions of the Saducees. Most of the scribes dismissed Jesus altogether. But this scribe called Jesus “teacher.” He asked Jesus: “Which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, reading from Mark’s Gospel:

“The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”   (Mark 12:28-34)

The scribe was excited about the answer that Jesus gave:

Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”   (Mark 12:32-34)

This scribe was seeking the kingdom of God. He had the Word made flesh to inspire him. God has promised us:

“When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,”   (Jeremiah 29:13)

Seekers, however, need evidence that there is something more than this current world has to offer. Some of us may think that we do not do evangelism, but we do it every day with our lives. Do people see something in us that they want? Are we the Naomi’s of our day? The Holy Spirit will do his job. But has our Christian witness drawn people near to the kingdom of God?

If so, they will say:

Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;

your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.

 

Track 2: Suggestion

Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Psalm 119:1-8
Hebrews 9:11-14
Mark 12:28-34

In the wilderness.Moses commanded the children of Israel, before they entered the promised land, to obey the commandments of God. He summarized the Law in this way:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.   (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

The key was keeping the Law in one’s heart.

When the scribe asked Jesus what is the first commandment of all, Jesus answered:

“The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”   (Mark 12:29-34)

The scribes and Pharisees had added many legalistic requirements to the law of Moses, things they failed to keep themselves, making it burdensome for the Israelites. Do we need a clarification of the Law today? How many of us judge others based on our interpretation of the Law?

Leave a comment

Filed under Eucharist, Gospel, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year B

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 23

Track 1: One Thing You Lack

Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Psalm 22:1-15
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10:17-31

Today, let us examine one of the costs of being a disciple of Christ. Reading from Mark’s Gospel:

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.   (Mark 10:17-22)

Is Jesus telling us all to sell what we own and give the money to the poor? That might be true for some of us. The key is the phrase: “You lack one thing.” When we are concerned about growing in Christ, we need the direction of the Holy Spirit. Jesus could see that the rih man was bound by his wealth. What are we bound by?

God will tell us what we are missing ir we will listen. Like the rich man, he loves us. He wants to restore our soul and reform us in his image. We read from Hebrews:

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.   (Hebrews 4:12-13)

God knows us. He sees everything. Yet we must remember that Jesus is on our side. Again, from Hebrews:

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.   (Hebrews 4:14-16)

God extends his grace and mercy to us. But we must grab it with all our being. We should not take it for granted. Nominal Christians assume all is well without laying their souls before God. Jesus paid to high a price for us not to pay any price. The Spirit gently speaks to us: “One thing you lack.” What wez lack, God generously provides through the blood of his Son. Are we seeking him? Are we listening?

 

Track 2:

Amos 5:6-7,10-15
Psalm 90:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10:17-31

The Gospe speaks about a man who was rich, but was seeking the kingdom of God:

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.   (Mark 10:17-22)

The rich man grieved because he did not want to give up his position. Riches have a tendency fir one to feel secure, eliminating aby fear of lack. This is a false since of security. Amos warns against this thinking.

you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;

you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.   (Amos 5:11)

All our blessings come from God who can take them away at any time.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eucharist, Gospel, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year B

First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday

The Fullness of God

Today is Trinity Sunday. We celebrate the unity of God in the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is complete in three persons. Each one of these persons is God. God is all three. God is not divided. Reading from Deuteronomy:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.   (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Let us look the separate ministries of each of the three Persons of the Trinity and see how they support and complete one another.

We will start with the ministry of God the Father. In our Old Testament passage today the Prophet Isaiah sees a vision of God the Father sitting on his throne:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”   (Isaiah 6:1-3)

God the Father is Holy. He is pure. He is absolutely good. His glorious presence makes us very aware of out sins. Isaiah said:

“Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”   (Isaiah 6:5)

God the Father is in total control of the universe. He sets the rules. He alone determines what is right and wrong. He alone is the one who judges sin. He alone can also forgive sin. This is what he decided to do for Isaiah:

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The tseraph[b] touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”   (Isaiah 6:6-8)

Isaiah could do nothing to eradicate his sin. Only God could do that. What he did for Isaiah he can do for us. Isaiah prophesied how the Father would deal with our sn. He foretold the coming of the Messiah:

He was despised and rejected by others;
    a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities
    and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
    struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.   (Isaiah 53:3-6)

The Apostle Paul proclaimed that there is one God. But he also illuminated on the ministry of the Holy trinity:

For there is one God;
    there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
   who gave himself a ransom for all.   (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

God the Father judges sin, but Jesus, who is God the Son, is our mediator.

Let us look at todays Gospel reading. God explains the new birth to Nicodemus:

“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.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.   (John 3:16-17)

This is the message of salvation. But this is not all that Jesus said to Nicodemus. He also said:

“Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”   (John 3:5-8)

Jesus has introduced us to the ministry of God, the Holy Spirit. Later, Jesus spoke to his disciples about his departure from this world, he comforted them with the promise of the Holy Spirit:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.   (John 14:15-17)

The Spirit is our helper and guide to a Holy life. His ministry is essential. The Apostle Paul

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh– for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ– if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.   (Romans 8:12-17)

Are we children of God? If so, we are led by the Spirit. That is choice we must make. To be a new creation in Christ our old worldly self must come under the authority of the Spirit.

God, in his fullness, is found in the Holy Trinity. This is true of his ministry to us as well. Do we know him this way? Today, he is calling us to embrace all that he has given us. Are we willing to give him all of ourselves?

Leave a comment

Filed under Eucharist, Gospel, Holy Trinity, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Trinity Sunday, Year B