Proper 19|Ex. 32:1,7-14 | Ps 51:1-17| 1 Tim 1:12-17 | Luke 15:1-10
“Against you only have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight.” FSHS
A woman and her grandmother were sitting on their porch discussing a member of the family who had really screwed up his life by cheating on his wife and stealing from his boss."He's just no good," the young woman said. "He's completely untrustworthy, not to mention lazy and sort of sleezy. And if, we’re honest he’s been like that since he was kid!”
"Yes, he’s a bad one," the grandmother admitted, as she rocked back and forth in her rocker, “but…Jesus loves him anyway.”
“I don’t see how that could be true at this point," the younger woman persisted.
"Oh, yes," assured the elderly lady. "Jesus loves him." She rocked and thought for a few more minutes and then added, "Of course, Jesus doesn't know him like we do . . .”
All joking aside, the testimony of Scripture is that Jesus not only loves us unconditionally but that he also knows each one of us far better than anyone else in the world, including ourselves. Psalm 139 declares that Lord, “perceives our thoughts from afar” and knows the words upon our tongues even before we speak them. Nothing that has ever happened in our lives, not even the thoughts the flick through our heads, not even our dreams are hidden from God. The love of Jesus Christ is an open-eyed and chosen love. That is part of what makes Jesus’ radical extension of forgiveness through the cross so remarkable and so needed. Hear the Good News, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, who knows our most horrendous thoughts, our secret habits, and the full effect of our selfishness on others, chooses to meet us with mercy.
Duet 30:15-20 | Psalm 1| Philemon | Luke 14: 25-33
“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, by the way of the ungodly shall perish.” FSHS
There was once a pastor named Phil who worked bi-vocationally as the manager of a Pizza Hut. He tried as best he could to be fair and kind to all of his employees, though due to the restrictions of cooperate policy he was never able to pay them much more than $8 an hour. One of his long time delivery drivers, Owen, was a vet from the Iraq War. He was mostly a good worker, but he had some PTSD from the war and sometimes would stay home and smoke to try to calm his nerves. As often happens, overtime marijuana just wasn’t enough. Owen started experimenting with some harder drugs and started missing more work.
Worried, Phil tried to reach out. He felt conflicted about his dual roles as a pastor and a manager, but the truth was, as far as Pizza Hut was concerned Owen’s problem was losing them time and money. Finally, one day when Owen came in 45 minutes late for his shift and clearly buzzed, Phil took him to the back room and explained that he would only have one more chance. If anything like this ever happened again not only would Owen lose his job, but Phil would be forced to give him a bad reference when he tried to look for a new one. You could be out of work for a long time, Owen, Phil warned him. No one wants to hire a druggy! Maybe Phil lost his temper a little, but Owen deserved it. Still coming off of a high, Owen cussed back at Phil, threatened him, and then grabbed the keys for the delivery car and drove off.
Proper 21| 1 Tim 2:8-15, 3:1,8-13 | Psalm 146| Luke 16:19-31
“Hallelujah! Praise the Lord, O my soul! *I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” FSHS
Last week six of our members went through the sacramental rite of Confirmation. Confirmation accomplishes several things in our spiritual lives, but most basically, it is the “ordination service” of the ordinary Christian. Just like in the ordination of a deacon, priest of a bishop; in Confirmation “everyday” Christians make an adult profession of their faith and commitment to Jesus Christ and receive the blessings and laying on of hands of the church through the Bishop to carry out the ministry of Christ to the world. The idea here is that we as Christians don’t just let the pastors do all the ministry. We have a priesthood of all believers, because like the priests of the Old Testament each Christian is called to go between God and the world in prayer and ministry- thus brining the concerns of the world to God and the love of God to the world. Confirmation is a special moment in which the church reminds individuals of that calling and asks the Holy Spirit to equip them for that ministry. Specific ordained Christian ministries such as being a deacon, priest/ pastor or Bishop all come out of the foundation of our ordination into the priesthood of all believers in Confirmation.