Sermons 2008
Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Proper 5A 2008 Matthew 9:9-13

There is some really Good News in today’s Gospel lections that tell us Jesus likes sinners, likes them enough to eat and drink with them, to defy the authorities in order to do it, and finally die for these same sinners – all of us included. Jesus was pretty specific: “I have come to call NOT the righteous, but sinners.” This is astounding Good News.

I know an Army Chaplain who likes to do personal evangelism witnessing. While he was in seminary in New Haven, Connecticut – a town with some rough neighborhoods – he had a special tee shirt designed. The message on the tee shirt was in Greek from today’s Gospel. The English translation: “He eats and drinks with sinners.

The seminarian would wear the tee shirt into the bars in those rough New Haven neighborhoods, sit down, and order a beer at the bar. Each and every time, some one would ask what language that was and what the saying meant. When he told them, the person usually asked: “Who eats and drinks with sinners?” The answer, of course, was “Jesus” and this usually led into deeper conversations. One standard response: “Well, if Jesus wants to eat and drink with sinners, this is the right place!”

We really don’t have to go to a bar in a rough city neighborhood to find sinners. All of us pass muster in that regard. If we weren’t sinners we wouldn’t need to be here. And each Sunday, we sinners will gather around the Lord’s Table and eat and drink with our sweet Lord who loves us.

And if we were gathered around that table with Jesus, Matthew the tax collector, and the other sinners, where would we be sitting? When we hear the great stories from Scripture, from both Old and New Testaments, it makes all the difference in the world where we are sitting in the story. And in today’s gospel, where do we find ourselves seated?

Eating a meal with someone has always been a serious sign of relationship. When a couple begins sharing meals with each other, it’s a sign that a relationship has become serious. A young couple were getting serious. So they were invited to dinner by his beloved grandmother whose approval was necessary to everything.

The grandmother cooked a feast. Three kinds of meat. Fresh garden vegetables. Hot fresh home made rolls, corn bread, and cake. Two kinds of pie. All for just three people. The meal was the seal of approval being set upon a new relationship with and within the family. As a result the couple could go public about their plans to marry. Everything was now different -- and better -- for the couple and the family for having a seat at the grandmother’s table.

That eating a meal with someone was a serious sign of relationship and approval was even more true in Jesus’ time. That’s why it caused so much consternation among the righteous ones who asked the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat and drink with tax collectors and other sinners?”

To the righteous ones of the Palestine of Jesus’ time, tax collectors were a special set of sinners. Tax collectors ranked as the lowest of the low, the scumbags of society. They collected the Roman taxes and they made their own livings by imposing a surcharge as large as they could with the support of the Roman imperium. Tax collectors were accounted by the righteous as more unclean than Gentiles. So for Jesus to enter into a relationship of table fellowship with such people – to take a seat at the table with tax collectors and other sinners -- was a great scandal.

The temptation is to think we sit outside with the righteous. But inside the Church is just the place where we sinners should be. The message of this Gospel passage is that Jesus thinks so. So, where do we sit at this table, this holy table? What relationship do we want with this Jesus Christ we meet there, the one who is both meal and host?

Life was never the same for Matthew after he took his seat at the table with the other tax collectors and sinners and with Jesus. He gave up his old life and followed this Jesus about whom the righteous were skeptical.

The tradition is that after the first Pentecost Matthew traveled to the East and to Ethiopia spreading the Good News about the Jesus who came to eat with and save tax collectors and other sinners like us.

Where do we sit at the table? Or kneel or stand?


(Grandmother's table story from unknown InterNet Source)