November 5/Pentecost + 22/Matthew 23:1-12/Joshua 3:7-17 Reforming Jesus Comes with Joy!
Jesus was teaching the crowds and didn’t challenge the teaching of the scribes or Pharisees, but rather affirmed that people should obey it. He did criticize the scribes and Pharisees for making religion a burdensome experience rather than a joyful thing. Their endlessly critical approach was judgmental and oppressive, rather than being pastoral and liberating. Jesus also criticized the scribes and the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in behaving as though they themselves were infallible. They made public displays of piety, while inwardly enjoying the respect and privileges that they received from others as a result. Jesus didn’t call his followers to positions of favor, but rather to service.
November 12/Pentecost + 23/Matthew 25:1-13/Joshua 24:1-25 Ready to Serve!
Many of our faith community have served their country faithfully in the United States Military. Service to God and others come in very traditional and non-traditional ways. Joshua invites the People of Israel to choose whom they will serve. He states emphatically, “Me and my house will serve the lord.” Matthew’s parable of the 10 Bridesmaids tells of 5 who were ready and prepared to serve and 5 who were not ready to serve. Are we ready for service in the Kingdom of God?
November 19/Pentecost + 24/Matthew 25:14-30/Judges 4:1-7 Talents Buried and Talents Used
This parable may have been part of Jesus’ denunciation of the scribes who had ‘buried’ the law under the mass of their traditions and regulations. The parable continues Jesus’ theme of rewards and punishments, and explains more fully what is meant by ‘readiness’. Such attributes are not exhibited by being inactive, but involve work and in this case, trading. The parable points to two classes of servants: those who make good use of their lord’s property and those who do not. When the lord returns to settle his accounts with them, one group will be rewarded and the other punished. God blesses different people with different gifts. The reward for work well done is more work to do. Punishment is for the people who don’t even try. If someone has a talent and uses it well, then he or she will progressively be able to do more with it. And, vice versa, if a talent isn’t used well or even at all, it will inevitably die.
November 26/Reign of Christ the King/Matthew 25:31-46/Ezekiel 34:11-24 Sheep, Goats, and Followers of a Shepherd King
Christ, the Shepherd King comes to judge and separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep hear the voice of the shepherd and obey. These tend to the needs of others. Indeed the test of our committed to God lies in our faithfulness to caring for God’s people. Furthermore, our lack of commitment to God is also measured in our lack of care for others. The measure of our walk with Christ is not measured by our talk as much as it is by our action.
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