Sermon-12th Day After Pentecost-17th-Proper 17-08/28/2022

Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1, 10-16; Hebews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14

The lesson from Jeremiah is one of God questioning His people’s relationship with each other and also with Him. Israel’s relationship to God was like that of an unfaithful wife. God had remorse over Israel’s rejected love. Sin breaks God’s heart, but He gives His people the freedom to reject Him, but He retains freedom to discipline His chosen. People cannot exercise freedom to roam religiously and change gods at will while still claiming innocence before God. The unthinkable sin is to switch gods, losing confidence in God, who proved His claim to be to be the only God so often in history. The new gods certainly never demonstrated power to save, for for that matter, anything else.

In the lesson from Psalm 81, the first verse is a call to celebrate one of the annual feast, probably the Feast of the Tabernacles, while verses 5-16 are the Lord’s, probably spoken by the priest. God loved His people and yet they turned away from him. But my people would not listen to me; “Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their devices. If my people would but listen to me, If Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes?” “Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever.” But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” “But only if you listen to Me…..”

The Lesson from Hebrews is really pretty simple. It states what Christian love is and is not. Christian love includes all people (and there are no exceptions). It leads to pure marriage; Christian love does not love money; Christian love imitates worthy leaders; Christian love centers on the unchanging Christ; Christian loves does not follow strange teachings; Christian love endures isolation and persecution; Christian love praises God and shares with others. Christian love obeys and prays for Christian leaders and Christian loves does the will of God. Christian love has no limits; it reaches out to everyone in need….strangers, brothers, sisters, prisoners, suffers. Christians should kept on loving one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.

In Luke, we see the story of a man with dropsy, Jesus asked the Pharisee and the experts in the Law, “Is is lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, be healed him and sent him away. Then, he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say.

Being God’s faithful believers we minister in love to the poor, cripple, lame, and blind. At the resurrection of the righteous, they will be blessed and rewarded for their ministry of loving service to the least and the lowest. The self-righteous hypocrites will not participate in the Messiah’s banquet at the end of time. The many references to humility in Jesus’ teaching should give us pause to think about them more seriously. The mark of humility is to think of others more highly. Not a weak-kneed approach to life, rather it gives attention to the great work God is doing in others and the great care He extends to them. They are made in His image thus deserving of love, as we all are.

Jesus told the Pharisee host he should have a banquet for handicapped persons rather than for relatives and rich friends. Then he would receive God’s blessings. The handicapped should participate full in our programs and fellowship. God welcomes the handicapped with their special gifts into His kingdom.

Finally, as followers and fellow believers in our Lord Jesus Christ we find that being one of His disciples is not a social hour we share with our group; rather, it is using every occasion of life to minister to persons in need. Participation in God’s kingdom is our reward, not participation in earthly award ceremonies. Beloved, entering the kingdom is most certainly an honor, but the prize is continued ministry and fellowship with those who understand that it is our work on behalf of Christ that gets us into the kingdom. It is learning to use our various gifts in honor of our Lord and all that He taught us in His life on the earth. I hope and pray to see you all in the kingdom. Amen


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