Sunday, October 12, 2014

I've Got a Robe, You've Got a Robe? Sermon 10/12/2014

18th Sunday After Pentecost - Ordinary Time 
A Reading from Psalm 23, Isaiah 25:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14, and Philippians 4:9
The Lord is My Shepherd I shall not want…
You have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; 
He makes me to lie down in green pastures…
the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt. 
He leads me beside still waters…
Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
He restores my soul. 

One went away to his farm, one to his business, the rest seized his slaves, mistreated and killed them. 
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 
The king was enraged. He sent his troops.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
The King destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.  
I will fear no Evil.,
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
But when the king came in to see the banquet guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe,

you anoint my head with oil;
Then the king said to the attendants, "Bind him hand and foot, 

My cup overflows.
and throw him into the outer darkness, 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth
And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever. 
For many are called, but few are chosen. 

And the God of Peace will be with you. 


The Bible is a collection of about 66 books, 
(more, depending on the tradition one is a part of). 
It was written by dozens, possibly hundreds of people, 
over at least 900 years. 

As a collection of books, 
written over centuries, 
the Bible contains tons of images 
and understandings,
and experiences,
and stories of- 
and about- God.

Some of them are comforting. 
Some of them are exciting.
Some of them are very confusing and weird. 

Some challenge us, 
or agitate us, 
or even really annoy us.

Some of them shake us up, and help us to grow into a deeper love for God, for our neighbors, and for all of God’s creation. 

Some of them contradict one another really badly, 
Some of them contradict one another really well. 

As we pick up the scriptures, some of the images of God 
seem to describe a god that is almost the exact opposite 
of the God we pray to here at First Trinity… 

The God who helps us to be a sanctuary, and a home, 
a safe place, and a place for all people to belong; 
the God who calls us to speak against injustice and discrimination and oppression and hate. 

And, of course, violence. 

Sometimes the Bible condemns the things 
that many of us believe God values.
Sometimes it seems that the Bible lifts up and promotes things that are quite damaging, and harmful, 
and even anti-Christian. 
Or anti-Love…

Sometimes the Bible is oozing Christian love and peace and justice and reconciliation. 

When he was tempted in the wilderness, 
Jesus himself was confronted by Satan, 
who, at the height of his tempting-of-Jesus, 
liked to quote scripture at Jesus 
in order to tempt him really hard.

The devil, 
in the Bible, 
quotes the Bible, 
at Jesus, 
to tempt Jesus!

And Jesus didn’t give in. 

Throughout history, 
scripture has been used to justify killing and wars and abuse, 
as well as to fight for peace, and justice, and liberation.
It’s been used to justify slavery, and to abolish slavery. 
To promote hate, and to promote love. 

In the history of Christianity, at any given time, 
most of those people 
who did most of those things—the love and the hate, the war and the peace
thought that they were right and faithful and just and good. 

They claimed the title “Christian.” Some of them even “Lutheran.”  
They baptized their children. 
They sang “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Power and Might”
They broke bread together on their knees. 
They were God’s “faithful.”
“Called…” or “Chosen…” Or… something…


The Bible is a collection of about 66 books.

It was written by dozens, possibly hundreds of people, 
over at least 900 years. 

It contains tons of images 
and understandings,
and experiences,
and stories of God.

It’s been handed down through the generations. 
As a gift. And as a tool. 

It can be used to promote love and peace and liberation. 
It can be used to promote hate and war and oppression. 

It can be used to offer grace and forgiveness, 
It can be used to judge and to condemn. 
To heal and to save, to destroy and to damn. 
To invite, and to alienate. 

And to provide meaning and comfort in a troubling world. 

The Bible is a gift, and a tool. 

How will you use it?


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