Thursday, September 10, 2020
Wednesday, September 09, 2020
On Wednesday night, we looked at the Seventh and Eighth Commandments.
Tuesday, September 08, 2020
Occasionally, there are stories in the news about people getting lost in the mountains out west. Confident in their sense of direction, these people will head off a path and, whether by their own errors or their errant faith in faulty navigation devices, become lost.
Experts tell those who hike that if they get lost, they should just stop. Don’t move. Do nothing. Keep still and wait to be found.
Many ignore the experts’ advice every year, consuming hours, even days, of effort by park rangers, EMTs, and police. Some of these lost people die. All because they think they can save themselves. The fact is that those who admit that they’re lost and do nothing about it are more likely to be found than those who deny that they’re lost (or that lost) and think that if they try enough, think enough, believe enough, do enough, they can find their way to safety.
In the first four verses of today’s Gospel lesson, Matthew 18:1-20, Jesus addresses this question. There, the disciples ask Jesus, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1)
To answer, Jesus gives the disciples an object lesson. He calls a child to Him and then puts the child in the midst of the disciples. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4) Notice that Jesus starts out by simply addressing how a person enters that kingdom.
It may be difficult for us to understand how absolutely scandalous Jesus’ answer would have been to the disciples. One commentator says, “...in first-century Judaism, children were...regarded as inferior, without status or rights, treated more as property than as persons, and never held up as a model for anything.”
The only people who can get into the kingdom of heaven, Jesus is saying, are nothings and nobodies.
Entry into Jesus’ kingdom can only be given to us, by a different theology that has nothing to do with our efforts, decisions, goodness, or good deeds. It happens by the theology of the cross.
Even entry into God’s kingdom is not something we can gain by our own effort. It’s a gift to those who understand the theology of the cross, to those who sit patiently as God teaches them to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10), to those who heed God’s call, to “wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
By pointing to a child as a model for getting into the kingdom of heaven, Jesus is telling us what His earthly brother, James, would later write in his New Testament letter: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
Monday, September 07, 2020
Tonight, after I got my act together, we looked at the Fifth Commandment, "You shall not murder." These are two renderings of the same session, the first from Facebook and the second from YouTube. Subscribe to my long-neglected YouTube Channel, to which I'll be adding more content.