Proper 23A (OT 28)
241: Oct 15, 2017
VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS: Tremaine Combs
PSALMIST: RICHARD BRUXVOORT COLLIGAN
Tasty Wafer: John Pavlovitz’s book, A Bigger Table just came out!
84: Oct 12, 2014
Featured Musician - Jennifer Knapp
- “Want For Nothing” from her 2010 album Letting Go.
And The River’s Voice (Trish and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan)
Tasty Wafer: Good resources on confronting rapture theology
The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation, by Barbara Rossing
Left Behind? What the Bible Really Says About the End Times by James Efird.
- Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation, by Bruce Metzger
Not an Anti-Jewish Text! Though this text has been misused to promote anti-Jewish sentiments. Counter them vocally! This text is as much about the condemnation or salvation of Christians as it is about Jews/Israel
“Let’s just admit it: this is an ugly parable. No amount of generalizing about God’s hospitality or vulnerability or invitation is going to do away with that. In fact, I think that straying into generalities is a huge mistake, as it glosses over the serious nature and inherent danger in passages like this. So I would urge you either to preach this parable in its distinct and unattractive particularity or to choose one of the other three far more attractive and certainly more edifying passages appointed for this day.” (David Lose, In the Meantime)
Literary Context- three parables - there is a natural progression (use of “again” in v.1 bind this parable to the preceding ones)
21:28-32 - Two Sons- focus on John the Baptist
21:33-46 - The Landowner’s Vineyard - Focus on Jesus (the son who was killed)
22:1-14 - King’s Banquet- Focus on the parousia- the culmination and judgment/salvation
Comes in response to the Chief Priests and Pharisees deciding that they needed to arrest him, but refrained for fear of the crowds.
“We are catching a glimpse of the low point in an intense family feud.” (David Lose, In the Meantime) This is true both within Matthew’s story and within Matthew’s authorship and historical context. This section of the story directly connects the the crucifixion of Jesus to the destruction of the Temple.
Matthew vs Luke 14:15-24
Luke’s literary context was at a table gathering. It was a Sabbath meal at the home of one of the Pharisees, a much less contentious place in the story.
Similar stories, but Matthew escalates it - in violence and absurdity
Wedding instead of “great banquet” elevates the rudeness of snubbing the invitation
Guests don’t even have the decency to provide reasonable excuse. They simply don’t want to come and ignore the invitation.
Rejection of invitation is escalated by beating and killing the messengers - which is an absurd way to respond to a King’s invitation - hence heightening the reality that this is not prescriptive. We are not meant to learn how to handle those who reject our invitation from this story.
Son - Jesus
Initial Guests - Israel
First group of slaves - Hebrew Prophets
Second Group - Christian Missionaries
This parable is not to be understood historically or literally in any sense
The “killing” of the servants and the Kings “destruction” of the initial guests is both hyperbolic and symbolic of the abuse of the prophets at the hands of the “faithful” and the destruction of Jerusalem
Matthew is writing out of a particular context which includes the destruction of the Temple and the persecution of followers of the Way.
Those that are initially called/blessed/elected are still judged on their actions - there is no “grandfather” policy of salvation
God is interested in who shows up prepared to do the work of God (love God and neighbor)
Is there a conditional nature to salvation? Is grace freely given or does it demand obedience and response?
The Good and the Bad are invited to attend!
Inappropriate clothing (Eugene Boring, NIB Commentary)
Being invited to the party does not mean one automatically is “saved”
The “elect” or the Christian are not a replacement for Israel
This passage is not a word of triumph to believers but a word of warning - do not presume salvation - it is a gift
Salvation is not a destination is a dedication to God’s ministry of love and grace. Showing up is a good start, but not enough
From Douglas Hare (Interpretation) “Why should the king be so incredibly harsh to a poor man who has hastily been brought from outside the city, who presumably had no opportunity to borrow a clean tunic fit for the occasion?... The answer to all such questions, of course, is that this is not an ordinary story but an allegory. The wedding feast is not the church but the age to come. The required garment is righteousness, that is, behavior (to put on Christ) in accordance with Jesus’ teachings. The man is speechless because he has no defense; he accepted the invitation of the gospel, but refused to conform his life to the gospel.” (p. 252, parenthetical note added by me)
Notice that the guests choose not to come to the banquet despite being invited and the unrobed guest refused to respond to the king about why he is dressed inappropriately
The old story about Heaven and Hell being a banquet table with 3 foot spoons
Hell- they starve and are hungry unable to feed themselves
Heaven- they are stuffed feeding each other
“But keep in mind, we are not Matthew’s community; that is, we are not the minority tradition with little cultural power trying to make sense of our rejection and alienation. Rather we are disciples of Jesus who hear, even in this parable, the good news that God invites all, good and bad (Mt. 22:10), because God is a God of expansive love and radical inclusiveness. And we are disciples who see, especially in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, not only just how far God will go to make this invitation of grace but also and that God’s words of love and forgiveness are more powerful than any words of punishment, hate, or fear. And because we have seen and heard and experienced first hand God’s love, we do not have to call down God’s judgment but can trust the God we know in Jesus to care for those who do not respond to God’s invitation just as graciously as God has cared for us. “
All three of these parables are warning to listen to God and to do the work of God - loving God and loving neighbor. To not do that work is to refuse the Kingdom of God. To give false lip service to this ministry is to show up in the wrong clothes. How do we show up, ready to serve?
What about showing up to church? Granted it is not enough in and of itself - but is it a if not the first step?
We don’t want to guilt people into church - so have we made church seem unimportant?
Does your church go out of its way to invite the good and the bad?
This is the basis of many a sit-com. Parents go out of town, leave oldest in charge. A few people come over, and all of the sudden things are out of control. Parents come home, and they are PISSED. So they decide to kill everyone at the party, and start over with new kids.
Last week we were given the Law, the cornerstone of the relationship between God and Israel. “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You must have no other gods before me. Do not make an idol for yourself… Do not bow down to them or worship them.” (Exodus 20:4)
Here the people say, “Come on! Make us gods who can lead us… Then he made a metal image of a bull calf, and the people declared, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:1-4)
If Exodus is the creation story of Israel, passing through the Sea is the birth. This is the fall.
“It is Genesis 3 all over again. The garden scene becomes a tangled mess. Harmony turns to dissonance, rest to disturbance, preparedness to confusion, and the future with God becomes a highly uncertain matter” (Terrence Fretheim, Interpretation: Exodus, p. 279).
Ten Commandments given to Moses in chapter 20 (last week)
Chapters 21-23 are other laws about social order
Chapter 24 Covenant of Sinai is sealed in blood and a meal with Moses, Aaron, and 70 leaders. The leaders “looked at God, and they ate and drank.” God tells Moses “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there. I’ll give you the stone tablets with the instructions and commandments I’ve written in order to teach them.”
Chapter 24:18 “Moses stayed on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.”
Chapters 25-31 are extensive, detailed descriptions of the tabernacle, rituals, offerings, and other priestly concerns.
Chapter 32:1 is a continuation of this thought “The people saw that Moses was taking a long time to come down…”
This passage takes place with only Moses and God, with the people at the bottom of the mountain.
After Moses goes down and sees what God was telling him, he gets mad and breaks the tablets. Argues with Aaron. Gathers Levites to dole out punishment. Purges the unfaithful. Eventually a new set of tablets are made.
Perspectives on the story (Amy Erickson on the Working Preacher blog)
Aaron - The practical leader, willing to compromise
Left in charge, the people are longing for answers.
Aaron builds an altar in front of the golden calf, and declares that the festival is in honor of Yahweh.
Fudges a little on the law, but tries to make it okay.
God - The upset parent
v. 7 in NRSV “The Lord said to Moses, "Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely
Acting perversely - same assessment of people as just before the flood (Genesis 6:12)
v. 7 in CEB “The Lord spoke to Moses: “Hurry up and go down! Your people, whom you brought up out of the Land of Egypt are ruining everything.”
Ruining everything - God had created order, and the people were undoing that order. They were ruining the created order that God had established
In both versions though, God says “the people you [Moses] brought out of Egypt.” He has no disowned them. They are now Moses’ people. They are Moses’ problem. It seems as if even God has forgotten the first commandment.
Moses - The intervener
Moses does three things:
Reminds God that it was God that brought them out of Egypt.
Appeals to God’s reputation in the eyes of the Egyptians
Reminds God of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.
Moses ignores God’s command to “leave me alone,” but instead stands up forcefully to God. (Parents, remember that time when your child convicted you of the thing you told them not to do?_
“The God of Israel is revealed as one who is open to change. God will move from decisions made, from courses charted, in view of the ongoing interaction with those affected. God treats the relationship with the people with an integrity that is responsive to what they do and say… This means that there is genuine openness to the future on God’s part… It is this openness to change the reveals what it is about God that is unchangeable: God’s steadfastness has to do with God’s love… God will always act, even make changes, in order to be true to [love].” (Fretheim, p. 287)
Exodus 32:14 “Then the LORD changed his mind about the terrible things he said he would do to his people.”
This is a remarkable sentence, one that could possibly make people uncomfortable if given a chance to really ponder it.
What does it mean for God to “change his mind.” This seems to run contrary to a classical understanding of the God that is all-knowing, all-powerful. How can an all-knowing God change? Is it possible that even God doesn’t know the future? What kind of vast implications does that have for faith?
We are a “What have you done for me lately” people. God and Moses are out of sight, then they must be out of mind as well. People cannot hold faith through perceived abandonment. How quick are we to forget what God has done? How quick are we to search for gods in times of trouble?
How do we lead? Are there times when appeasing the crowd is appropriate? Are there compromises that need to be made? Or are we too often like Aaron, not standing firm when we need to, or like the preachers that Martin Luther King wrote to from his Birmingham jail
Rejoice. Be Glad. Show gentleness. Do not be anxious. Pray.
“Difficult words to hear, especially in light of recent conversations about “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of _________.” Given that by the time we air this podcast, there might be a different city to place in that blank.” - This was from Dec. 15, 2015
Context of Letter:
Author of the letter is in jail
Readers of the letter going through persecution.
“Jerked out of their context, the exhortations connote an unrealistic attitude toward life, a Pollyanna religion that ignores the harsh tragedies and calls for a stoic like serenity… But they emerge from and are directed to what some would call the dark side of human experience.” (Charles Cousar,Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 24)
My beloved, my desired..my crown
Desire- only time this word appears in the NT. To desire - to want to be in the presence of. Not simply to love but to long to be near
Crown - victory wreath (like that given to athletes), an odd saying for one about to be put to death. Wreaths were given to athletes, but honor was given to an entire community (not that different from today). Philippi is also victorious even in the midst of division. E and S are co-athletes, they “compete together” (synathlein)
A call to unity even in the midst of division
Euodia and Syntyche - two women, apostles, co-workers for the Gospel, presumably in a disagreement which threatens the community
Be of the same mind in the Lord, not that one would agree with the other, but that both would have the mind of Christ.
Both women are commended even in the midst of their division with one another (or with Paul)
“Gentleness” or forbearance
Do not fall into anger, vengeance, quarreling, hatred, bitterness, parking lot conversations
Forbearance - self-control, tolerance, restraint
Be bold in forbearance- not certitude, not righteousness, but in tolerance
Remember that God is near to give strength (and perhaps to judge)
Not ignoring the problems and divisions: Paul is headed to his death, the church in Philippi is waning
Problems are real, but will not have the final word
Struggles are not an excuse to stop trusting in God, to stop caring for one another, to backslide into division and att
Are we willing to take time for prayer, for reflection, to listen to God speaking through us?
Remembering, affirming, believing: God is near
Being “right” will not protect us, the peace of God will guard your heart and mind to focus on self-giving love.
Questions to ask of the text:
How is the Lord near? Spatial, temporal? Is the Lord coming soon, or is he already present - or both?
How can we possibly not worry? Is prayer the antidote to worry?
A stress-free life is hardly a life worth living. Yet that is easy to say in a relatively comfortable place.
For what am I supposed to be glad?
Was Paul glad that he was in jail?
What does it mean to have our hearts and minds safe?
Notice that the prayers do not guarantee physical safety.
In the midst of disagreement, where does your mind go? Most of the time we fall to despair, anger, outrage, frustration and retort. (There is scientific evidence for this: Oatmeal Comic, Backfire Effect). Instead of falling victim to “the backfire” effect”, practice forbearance, listen and focus on v.8: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
THANK YOU FOR LISTENING AND GET IN TOUCH:
Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).