Keeping Score?

Year A Proper 19 :  Ex. 14:19-31; Ps. 114; Ro. 14:1-12; Mt. 18:1-35

SeventyxSeven by Susan Berry Taylor inspired by Jan L. RichardsonAn eye for an eye.
A tooth for a tooth.
I have a score to settle.
An accounting must be made.
Justice must be served.
This is the economy of the world.
It is not God’s economy.

It is not the way of God’s people; a called-out people. People of faith are called out of the ways of the world; ‘chosen’ in our response to God’s will by a desire to reflect back out into the world God’s love and mercy as we have experienced God’s love and mercy. (1 Pet. 2:9-10)

Many of us who profess a Christian faith know in our hearts the freedom of forgiveness and of feeling the weight lifted from the debt of sin cancelled. Many of us can acknowledge that our lives could not possibly measure up under God’s judgment let alone other human beings.

In a hostile world where score-keeping is the norm Christians are called to stop counting! to not ‘even the score’ but to forgive yet not forget.

In the Exodus story, the Egyptians getting their come-uppance as they are engulfed by the sea - chariots, horses, riders, all is viewed by the freed Israelites as the Lord’s vengeance. It is named in the Song of Moses, “Vengeance is mine” says the Lord (Dt. 32:35)

Called out of bondage, God’s people do not need to be enslaved to vengeance and retaliation. God’s people are freed from score -keeping.

The Christian tradition names it too in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (ch.12): “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (17-19,21)

In a letter to persecuted Christian communities around 80 a.d. throughout the five provinces of Asia Minor, the author of 1 Peter exhorts the called-out people of faith to “not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but on the contrary to repay with a blessing.” (3:9)

This letter is written in the tradition of St. Peter, yes the very one who asks Jesus in today’s gospel, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”

Read more: This Week's Sermon

Gift

“A gift isn’t fully realized until it is given away” - Lewis Hyde

Child giving flower

Thank goodness for friends who recommend good books! It began casually when a colleague was inquiring about my work as an artist. Out of that conversation came his recommendation to read The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde. Initially written in 1979 its message is as timely as ever. I’m reading it slowly and carefully because it offers great insight about what gift culture can teach us. It reveals the distinctions between gift and capitalist ‘economies’. Even though the intention is not to be a theological treatise one cannot help but understand the implications as a Christian and the author does point out the obvious from time to time not just in terms of the Christian tradition but from many diverse faith traditions.

Read more: Rector's Message

A congregation gathers on a Sunday morning. There has been a lot of preparation. The altar has been set, bulletins have been printed, the heat turned up. The choir has practiced, the children have been at Sunday School. The words of Scripture, the hymns, the sermon, the prayers have challenged and inspired. All have come to the altar rail for Christ's body and blood. The fellowship of coffee hour awaits. The Church, St. Paul said, is the body of Christ and each a member. It's true! Never perfect, filled with all sorts and characters. And yet, a beautiful living organism of God's grace.

Coming Events

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 5:00 PM
Choir Practice

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 6:15 PM
Evening Prayer

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 12:00 PM
Eucharist & Bible Discussion

Sunday, September 21, 2014 10:00 AM
Eucharist

Sunday, September 21, 2014 4:00 PM
Parish Social

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