Sermons 2008

Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32

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 21A 2008                Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32

 One of the interesting phenomena about presidential election campaigns is the importance that labor unions assume.  Candidates of all parties seek their favor and endorsements – as well as their financial contributions.  The ritual of negotiation between candidates and union leaders seems to follow an interplay of promise and contribution.  Sometimes I suspect that neither candidate nor union chief have the best interests of the laborers in view.

At times labor shortages, at least locally and on a micro-scale, can lead to odd effects.  Some years ago when Don Peel, Jim Stone, and Wes Armstrong were building the cemetery columbarium the Northern Neck was in the grip of a severe drought much like the current one.  The July and August heat was fierce.  But almost every day one or two or all three of these gentlemen worked away mixing mortar, carrying bricks, and building the columbarium in the relentless searing July and August heat, all the while in the direct sun out of any cooling shade.

Realizing that they were not as young as they used to be, the three decided to try to hire some help for much of the heavy lifting, something that would also speed the project along a bit.  After all there w re plenty of jobless younger men usually to be found at the nearby corner.  Surely some of them could use a little extra money.  But it wasn’t to be.  No one was interested in working in the heat.  Even offers of twenty dollars an hour were spurned.  No one changed their mind over the course of the rest of the project and summer and none of them came to help.

There’s a story about a group of military leaders who succeeded in building a super computer able to solve any problem--large or small, strategic or tactical.  The generals assembled in front of the new machine for a demonstration. The computer technician asked them officers to give the computer a difficult tactical problem.  The military leaders described a hypothetical situation to the computer and then asked whether tp attack or retreat?  The super computer hummed away for an hour and then gave one-word answer . . . YES.

            The stunned just generals looked at each other.  Finally one of them asked the computer: YES WHAT?  Instantly the computer responded: YES, SIR.

            In today’s gospel the Pharisees, like these generals, were accustomed to people saying "Yes, sir" to them.  They were the religious authorities and were used to being treated as such.  But Jesus threatened their authority and the Pharisees were upset. In their eyes, Jesus was preaching heresy and leading people away from their ancient religious traditions.  The Pharisees wanted to expose him as a heretic and a fraud. 

Jesus first turned the tables on them by asking them questions that they could not – or would not – answer.  It was in this context that Jesus told the story about a man who had two sons.

The man went to the first and said, "Son, go and work in the vineyard today."  This son immediately said, "I will not"; but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to second son and said the same thing. This one answered, "I go, sir." but he did not go.  Jesus was very good at telling stories that described the human situation.

Then Jesus asked the Pharisees a simple question: "Which of the two did what his father wanted?"
            "The first," they answered.
            Then Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." (NIV)

            There must have been some gasps and "How dare he!" from the crowd that day.  Comparing the righteous Pharisees to beyond the pale sinners like tax-collectors and prostitutes?   How dare he!  Didn't he know that only those people with the right credentials would make it into the Kingdom of God?  What was Jesus thinking?

            There is an old Japanese legend about a man who died and went to heaven.  Heaven was beautiful--full of lush gardens and glittering mansions.  But then the man came to a room lined with shelves.  On the shelves were stacked piles of human ears!  A heavenly guide explained that these ears belonged to all the people on earth who listened each week to the word of God, but never did anything about it.  When these people died, only their ears ended up in heaven.  (1)




1.  Esermons illustrations for Proper 21A 2008