Really? Do we really have to say “Glory to you, Lord Christ” after that reading? This is a terrible week to be preaching the lectionary! Some weeks are great – some not so much. This is a Gospel lesson I have been wrestling with all week. I offered to let Owanah preach on it when we met on Wednesday, but she turned me down. She’s a smart on who had been reading ahead!
Let me remind you of where we are in the bigger story. These are the 3rd and probably 4th parables in a string Jesus is telling to the chief priests and elders who asked him where he got his authority. The first one parable was about the disobedient brothers, the second was about the wicked tenants. Then we get the Wedding Banquet and the Underdressed Guest. We have to remember that Matthew is writing this Gospel after the destruction of Jerusalem that happened in 70AD. Over and over again in Matthew’s Gospel, we see those who look religious but whose lives have not been changed, being held to account. Matthew has no problem naming Gentiles in Jesus’ lineage, telling us about the Magi, and quoting the Great Commission from Jesus as “Go and Make Disciples of All Nations.” Matthew seems impatient with those who would get mired down in the status quo – those who would be able to quote Scripture from heart, but who would never take it to heart. Matthew is concerned for those who will not clothe themselves in Jesus and be changed.
If we look at the bigger picture – at what Jesus may have been trying to teach us over these last few weeks, I have broken this down in my mind that this is all about Jesus teaching us about disciplines: how to be faithful, how to show or prove our faith in God. Two weeks ago, neither brother was completely obedient, but one did what he was asked after all. Last week, all the Owner of the vineyard wanted was his share of the fruit – his share of the profits – as was owed to him. It seems to me that Jesus was teaching us about the importance of obedience two weeks ago. Then last week, Jesus was teaching us about sharing the first fruits of the profit. This week, Jesus seems to be teaching us the importance of showing up and suiting up.
All of these are very important lessons as we start into Stewardship Season. This week, probably on Tuesday, you are going to get a letter from me in the mail. It will contain information about our Stewardship campaign. It also contains a pledge card that I hope you will pray over for the next five weeks. Every week, there will be a special bulleting insert that has discussion questions to ponder as you pray about what God is calling you to in Stewardship. On November 9th, at the Offertory, I am going to ask you al to turn in your pledge cards completed. We will pray over them and thank God for your obedience. We will thank God for your sharing of your labor. We will thank God that you have been suiting up and showing up – and that you are a valuable, beloved member of this community. This is a brand new community that needs your obedience, your stewardship, and you – we need everyone suiting up and showing up with all of their God-given talents. Amen.
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