Monday, May 26, 2008

Matthew 7:21-29

Pentecost +3 – Year A

Matthew 7:21-29

This summer I am not going to follow the lectionary, though I will still post about it here. We will be having guests (this week, Mel Duncan, Executive Director of Nonviolent Peaceforce) and responding to desired sermon topics from the congregation. I expect there to be connections between the lectionary and other scriptures chosen for their more literal connection to a given topic.

For instance: a general sermon title might be: "When 'Lord, Lord' is a Foundation of Sand" and a specific application this week might be – "You can't use Jesus as an excuse for hitting someone".

An immediate connection is with the possible list of good things we have done that would allow us to excuse ourselves from the evil we have also done. Jesus doesn't seem to have a concept of impartial justice that weighs good and evil and whichever is an ounce/gram weightier wins. Thus the history of evil-doers who are appreciators of the arts and gentle with their own children are not excused because of those and other virtues. Or, in this passage, those who prophesy, exorcise, or otherwise do miraculous deeds under the cloak of "Jesus" are not commended for simply doing such. Even the devil can quote scripture.

Here Jesus suggests a return to his foundation – belovedness. In the baptism of life, wherever rain falls, is there an increase in belovedness – one's own and that of everyone? If so, its solid foundation is revealed; if not, shifting sand is revealed.

Sometimes we desire to hide our base foundation. Here Jesus asks us to reveal it. On this "Memorial Day" can we remember a foundation of Jesus in non-violence (the reported mini-apocalyptic statements attributed to Jesus aside) such as Luke 9:51-56 – "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village."

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