Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 19, Year A
Exodus 14:19-31; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

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As promised last week, this week’s gospel presents a lesson about forgiveness. Just a quick reminder: By the time Matthew’s gospel was written, the temple had been destroyed and the Hebrew people, as well as early Christians, had been driven out of Jerusalem. So Matthew’s gospel is intended to help this early Christian community stay faithful to God and to one another in an unfamiliar land.

In the preceding chapters, Jesus’ teachings have moved the bar on what it is to be faithful. In his estimation, the ten commandments didn’t go far enough. It’s not only those who murder that are liable to judgement, but those who are angry with others.  Not just those who commit adultery, but those who look with lust at another person. Jesus-followers were expected to not just love their neighbors, but to love their enemies, and to turn the other cheek.

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Pulling Together

September 10, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 18, Year A
Exodus 12:1-14; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20

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One of the things I love about the Episcopal Church is our use of the 3-year lectionary. Each Sunday it provides the scripture readings that will be heard across all Episcopal churches and the preacher, ideally, is supposed to preach on one or more of these texts. It keeps us in line, I guess.

What I’ve found remarkable is how often, when something momentous happens in our world, that at least one of the passages seems to fit perfectly. Like after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in 2012 – it was during Lent, Year B – and John’s gospel lesson included the verse “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” What an amazing invitation to preach about not letting this one soul die in vain, but for his death to serve a greater purpose for change.

Or after the horrific event in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine were shot during their Bible study at a Black church in June of 2015. The gospel lesson was the story of the frantic disciples and a sleeping Jesus on a boat in a storm. Most versions of this story have the disciples waking Jesus so he could save them, but the lectionary provided for that Sunday, had Mark’s version of the story. This is the one where the disciples cry out, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” echoing the current-day frustration of our Black brothers and sisters, asking their White neighbors to wake up to what’s going on around them. 

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