OCTOBER 11, 2020 SUNDAY
Dear Church Family,
Our Collect for this next week asks gathers that God’s grace go before us, and behind us. You live in a divine bubble of grace. It strengthens us with power to seek good works and do them. In what ways does God’s grace touch and strengthen you? How does grace change you, and help you do the good works of God’s love, forgiveness and compassion for others?
The theme of the golden calf dominates the reading from Exodus and the Psalm for this Sunday. If it weren’t so sad, it would be funny. Unable to wait patiently on Moses or the Lord, the children of Israel hold an idol making class. The plan to make sacrifices to this altar. Realizing what’s going in the valley, Yahweh dispatches Moses with the Torah on stones, commands to destroy these people, so he can raise up a new nation. Moses, though, intervenes for the people, telling Yahweh he needs to uphold his reputation before the Egyptians, and keep promises made to Abraham and his offspring. Moses calls on Yahweh to repent. Interestingly — Yahweh repents. Think about that one.
The Psalm recalls the folly of the people, God’s anger, and all Yahweh has done to bring them this far. He would destroy them, but Moses intervenes. One of the interesting and beautiful aspects of these stories is conversation (argument) over whose these people are — God’s or Moses’s. God says he’s given them to him. Moses argues – “no, they’re yours.” It’s as if both at are ready to get rid of them by reassigning ownership. “They’re your people, Moses.” “No they’re not. They’re yours. You set them free. It’s your fault.”
Readings from the letter to the Philippians conclude and draw together a number of themes from Paul. Faithfulness to the gospel is most important and urgent. As Jesus was faithful to God’s way of salvation, through suffering and death, and as Paul has stood firm in is calling, he now calls on the Philippians to stand firm in the Lord. Both Christ and Paul are examples to follow.
“Faithlessness” begins Jesus’ parable in Matthew – an allegorical tale of a wedding banquet. Those invited don’t take the king seriously — even to the point of killing those he sends to call them to his table. And when the banquet hall is finally filled, it’s not those first invited. It’s anyone – good and bad who’ll come, good and bad. One guest dares come without proper wedding attire. Matthew has taken this story and applied it to his church — now some years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. What does it mean to be properly attired before God? I’ll try and answer that in Sunday’s sermon.
Read the Collect. Then read each text. Take time to listen to the words, either you speak aloud, or in your mind. Listen for God to speak. Sit with what you “hear” or comes into your mind — meditate with it. What do you believe God is asking you to do differently?
Blessings, God’s peace, and we gather via YouTube, Sunday — Fr. Steve
19th Sunday after Pentecost – October 11, 2020
Year A – Proper 23
Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.” They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.
The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.”
But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.
Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23
Confitemini Domino, Et fecerunt vitulum
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, *
for his mercy endures for ever.
2 Who can declare the mighty acts of the Lord *
or show forth all his praise?
3 Happy are those who act with justice *
and always do what is right!
4 Remember me, O Lord, with the favor you have for your people, *
and visit me with your saving help;
5 That I may see the prosperity of your elect
and be glad with the gladness of your people, *
that I may glory with your inheritance.
6 We have sinned as our forebears did; *
we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.
19 Israel made a bull-calf at Horeb *
and worshiped a molten image;
20 And so they exchanged their Glory *
for the image of an ox that feeds on grass.
21 They forgot God their Savior, *
who had done great things in Egypt,
22 Wonderful deeds in the land of Ham, *
and fearful things at the Red Sea.
23 So he would have destroyed them,
had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, *
to turn away his wrath from consuming them.
My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Once more Jesus spoke to the people in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”