What an Entry! What Chutzpah!

In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.

Our story is beginning to come to the climax, and tensions in the story that were strained are about to heat up. The feast of Passover is drawing ever closer, the last feast Jesus will celebrate in Jerusalem, and everyone can feel that something special is going to happen. Jesus has already told them that he is the Messiah and this was confirmed by God’s own voice and the appearance of Moses and Elijah. With this fresh in their minds, Jesus tells them, “It is time let us go celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem,” and you can feel the excitement in the air. Now is the time of Israel’s deliverance.

As they cross the river Jordan and head to the town of Jericho, right before they begin the 15 mile journey, that will them from 1,200 feet below sea level to 2,500 feet above, they encounter two strategically placed blind men. These men are not merely begging for money, they are providing a service. The backbone of Judaism’s piety is made up of three elements, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These two men are allowing the pilgrims to the festival the opportunity to get in a little extra good work on their way to celebrate one of the three great feasts: Passover.

As the pilgrims place their offerings in these two men’s cups, they hear a special treat—Jesus is approaching. If he will just toss in some money, surely everyone around him will as well—their pay day has arrived. As he draws near, they begin their pleas, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd tries to quiet them, but they carry on all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David.”

When he finally reaches them, he asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” They start for their cups to begin the great payday, but then something greater pops into their head: “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Jesus touched their eyes, and immediately they were opened and as they were looking around surveying the land for the first time, they followed Jesus. Now he is going to show them what it is like when he, the Son of David and heir to the throne, looks like when he enters into his kingdom.

Jesus sends two of his disciples to a pre-arranged deal to bring him a donkey and a colt with her. As they bring him these two, they begin to see in the flesh, a story they had read about all their lives concerning a previous Son of David. When David was old and dying, his son Adonijah set himself up as king in his father’s place, for he is the heir by birth order. But David had already promised Bathsheba that their son Solomon would be king.

So David sends his own donkey to Solomon. He is to mount it and ride it down the Mount of Olives and into Jerusalem where he will present himself to Zadok the priest who will anoint him. And then trumpets will be blown to draw everyone’s attention to the proclamation: “Long live Solomon!” Then he will ascend to his throne as the appointed king of all Israel.

Jesus, David’s son (as the two, now formerly blind men so aptly put), mounted on a donkey rides up the Mount of Olives and traces Solomon’s path—a path that leads straight into Jerusalem and to the High Priest Caiaphas, who will recognize him as the king and anoint him and then Jesus will be the tip of the spear of the revolution that will cause Israel’s deliverance from the evil Romans, and God will again establish his earthly kingdom.

And so the people came out in droves to witness this, on the exact day that Daniel the prophet had promised 483 years earlier. And they bring with them palm branches, a sign of triumph, a sign which if you squint your eyes just right, looks like a sword. And the people, thousands of them, proclaim with loud voices, “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest!” All this carrying on draws the attention of Roman forces in the Antonio Fortress not 500 yards from this tumult. These men are there especially to protect against the crowds gathered for Passover, just in case they get an idea of insurrection. The Romans play nice as long as you remember that there is one king and his name is Caesar, and he lives in Rome.

Jesus, surrounded by the huge crowd, reaches his intended destination of the Temple. The crowds now expect him to go see Caiaphas. However, as he enters, he sees an abomination—God’s house has been turned into a bank and this bank is openly taking advantage of the people and corrupting the people, enabling them to offer sacrifices to God that are wholly unfit. Jesus becomes enraged. He starts wrecking the place—overturning well-established money-changing stations (this isn’t merely flipping over card table—these people are not start-ups, they have set up shop in a permanent way) and Jesus drives them from the temple. This is quite a different entry than the people were expecting.

The next day, Jesus heads with the twelve toward the Temple. On the way, he sees a fig tree in full leaf. He stops and examines the tree, and he found nothing but leaves. Though it was not the time for figs, he expected to find something, but he finds nothing—only the outward beauty of the leaves. The fig tree is a real life parable of the Temple. The outward appearance is beautiful, towering 16 stories above the earth, but it is fruitless. Jesus went the day before, looking for something—anything—that could be nurtured into bearing fruit; he went looking for any signs of belief in the Messiah, the true understanding of the Messiah that he has spent the last 3 years establishing—but he found nothing. And so he curses the fig tree and in doing so, curses the Temple—fruitless trees serve no point when their entire existence is based on bearing fruit.

Jesus then proceeds into the Temple. What gall! He just wrecked the place yesterday, and then he has the nerve to come back. Naturally the chief priests and the scribes confront him: “By what authority are you doing these things?” “Who gave you the authority to come in here and mess up everything?”

But Jesus rounds on them, “No I will ask the questions here. I will ask you one question; answer me and I will tell you by whose authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?”

They circle up and debate among themselves, and their conclusion was they don’t know. Rather than take a stance at all, they throw up their hands and do nothing. This reminds me of the letter to the Laodiceans that Jesus tells John to write in Revelation: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you from my mouth.” Had these leaders taken a stance, any stance, Jesus could have corrected it and taught them, but Jesus has no time for lukewarm and fruitless. “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

And then he turns to the crowd that has naturally gathered (who would want to miss that encounter after what happened yesterday?). He says to them: “A man had two sons, both of which he tells to go work in the vineyard. The first initially says no, but then thinks better and goes. The second says yes, but never goes. Which did the will of the father?” The crowd answers: the first.

He then turns to the religious leaders: “Truly I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of heaven before you. John the Baptist came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.”
Beloved, Jesus here is upset, and with good reason. The people who were supposed to be aware of what was going on hadn’t a clue. But those who didn’t let their pride could their vision, were able to see with their own eyes even though they didn’t have all the training. The blind men threw themselves at Jesus and he gave them more than they initially desired. But the religious leaders proved how blind they were to the man who stood in front of them and all that he had to offer to them.

In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.

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The Rich Young Man and Peter Too

In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.
How committed are you that which God calls you?

After last week’s parable of the unforgiving servant, (remember Bob, Frank, and Guacamole-gate 2014?) Jesus and his disciples set off for Jerusalem. In Judaism there are three major pilgrimages that require everyone to head to Jerusalem, Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. It is set up in first Exodus and then Moses reminds the people of this in Deuteronomy: “Three times a year all your males shall thus be seen in the presence of God your Lord in the place that He will choose” and they shall come there to offer their sacrifice to God.

This is a brilliant system for a people who are about to scatter all over the Promised Land. Think about high school, after graduation everyone is scattered to the four winds and they become different people. God prevents this by requiring them to come to a central point three times a year to offer their sacrifices—this is the way they remain a people even though they scatter.

This is still the case in Jesus’ time and so Jesus and the twelve pack up and start heading south. But they are not alone, because every Jew is required to do this, there are great crowds are travelling with them. And Jesus loved crowds, even though at times they could wear on him (remember the incident that caused him to walk on water was that the crowd would not give him a moment’s peace). And as they were all walking together, people would come to him to bring their loved ones to have him heal them.

Along the way some Pharisees came up to him to question him concerning things. This is not necessarily a bad thing for they ask him a good and relevant question to the problem of the day—in this case divorce. “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any reason?” He brings them back to the beginning, back to Adam and Eve and creation—the two become one flesh. “What God has joined, let no man separate.”

“So why then did Moses allow divorce?” If we turn back to Deuteronomy 24, we learn that Moses says, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, is she then finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her…” some indecency is the English translator trying to soft-play the actual there. The Hebrew reads “finds her obnoxious.” (Don’t tell Hollywood this, or it would become the new “irreconcilable differences.”)

So Moses permits divorce if the woman proves to be obnoxious. But he goes on to say that if, after putting her out, he may not then come back to her if she re-marries and her new husband dies. “Well maybe she wasn’t THAT obnoxious.” “No,” Moses says, “go fish somewhere else, you had your shot and you found her obnoxious.”

Jesus tells these people, “It was because of your hardness of heart that Moses allowed this, but from the beginning it was not so.” The disciples chime in, “If this is the case, maybe it is better not to marry.” Jesus tells them, “Yes it is a tough position. And yes you may decide that it is better for YOU no to marry, but let’s not make that the normative stance. If you feel that my stance is too hard-nosed for you to even try, that is for you.” The disciples were asking if they should reject the world and focus solely on God—like the Essenes of their day. Jesus tells them no, that will not be the norm, they will be in the world.

After this, children were brought to him to bless them. It’s like you see on TV when the people bring their children to the Pope to give them a little kiss—same thing. The disciples tried to prevent this, but Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.

Jesus is saying, those who accept Jesus as would a child—that is, accepting his authority because it is his, not trying to rationalize their way in: “Well this is the best of all possibilities” or as fire insurance—just in case—to these belong the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom belongs to them because they are fully committed, those using it as fire insurance, just in case it is true and I do need it, are holding themselves back.

And then we come to the Rich Young Man—he is going to be an example of the alternative to the children—trying to hold some back. “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” To which he says, “Ok. … … Which ones?”

Jesus catches on to this guy and he rattles off some: “You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Notice here, these are all commands dealing with relating with people, and none with relating with God. “All of these I have kept since my youth.”

This guy, though Jesus has no reason to suspect that he is not telling a lie (how many of us can say that we have kept all these perfectly for even one day), is neglecting his relationship with God, so Jesus tests him on this aspect. “If you would be perfect, sell what you possess and give it to the poor, and you will have your treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” Now he reaches this man’s breaking point, he is unwilling to buy in totally, trusting in God, but would rather be content with perfection in this life. Jesus calls him to the seventh day of rest—the commands that call us beyond this earthly life to God himself, but the man is unwilling to come.

As this young man is walking away, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, only with great difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” That is to say, it is hard to know that you need God when you lack nothing.

He is not necessarily picking on the rich here but addressing the situation since a rich man just left. He is addressing the situation of anyone that has anything blocking them. It could be pride and Jesus would have said that that person could not have entered the kingdom without a huge dose of humility—it’s hard to get into heaven if God never enters your thoughts because you are the one who has done everything. It is impossible to enter heaven if you don’t feel the need for it.
And Peter, being the wrong-headed apple-polisher that he is at this point in his life, says in reference to the rich young man, “Hey Jesus, you know we (arms splayed out to indicate the disciples) have left everything and we are following you right now.” And Jesus tells him, “Yes you have Peter, but before you get ahead of yourself, let’s talk about humility, many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Question marks appear on Peter’s face, so Jesus tells him a little parable about this weird and quirky vineyard owner who pays everyone equal pay for unequal amounts of work. He follows this with another prediction of his death. Like the young rich man who just left, Jesus is telling Peter to shed the beginnings of a blockage that would prevent him also from entering the kingdom of God—pride.

Jesus is telling Peter that unless he is willing to forsake any promise of status due to tenure and follow Jesus to kingdom of God, and not of man, then he too will not enter, for it will be impossible because he cannot get past himself. We go back to the blessing of the children as the key to understanding the passages—unless one is willing to commit fully to the authority of Jesus and not try to impose his own will, but accept fully what Jesus is saying, one cannot enter into the kingdom of God, as with the camel and the needle—it is impossible.

Beloved, today each person is called by God to take a good look around and assess your own personal situation. What is preventing you from fully accepting the kingdom and authority of Christ in your life? God knows we all have them—he just shot down two potentially perfect people and showed them what is lacking. He pulled the curtains open and allowed the people to survey the room in the full light of day. And he did this not to be mean and show them their inadequacies but to show them the truth that they too are calling into the kingdom of God. One rejected this invitation, the other accepted.

Now God does the same for each of us. What is hindering you? Jesus tells us to put it aside and come and follow me.

In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.

Bob, Frank and the Guacamole Double-Dip

In the Name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.
Last week we learned about the Biblical method of forgiveness. If your brother sins against you, go to him one on one and tell him his fault. Don’t just let it fester, the only thing that accomplishes is giving you an ulcer, and nobody wants an ulcer. Tell the person, “You know, that really upset me.” If he turns around and says, “Oh my gosh, I had no idea. I’m sorry I hurt you.” Then you have gained your brother and kept it between the two of you.

However, if the person who wronged you says, “No you are in the wrong. In fact, you have upset me and I don’t want to see you again.” Then Jesus told us last week that we are to gather one or two impartial witnesses to give some insight to the situation. “Actually Bob, we were right over there and while we were talking we saw what happened and you really did double dip in the guacamole and it was kind of gross. But Frank, we also noticed that you were a little harsh on poor Bob for such a minor thing.”

Now that Frank and Bob have gained a broader perspective on the guacamole incident maybe now they will be able to forgive each other the wrong: Bob for contaminating an entire bowl of guacamole with his nasty chip saliva, and Frank for overreacting to gauc-gate 2014 and embarrassing his friend. The situation is still small enough that further embarrassment is saved because it is between a small group of people who care enough about the others not to let something minor cause a major rift.

However, maybe some things were said after the initial incident and now some words were said behind Frank and Bob’s backs, and Bob says to Frank’s witnesses, “You all need to mind your business. I can’t stand the sight of that man. Sure I double-dipped, but Frank killed me. I was so mad afterward I couldn’t see straight and I went home and kicked the cat. Now my cat is mad at me too, and now my toe hurt. Bob and I were supposed to go to the Church Softball League game that night, and we couldn’t because he was my ride and I couldn’t play anyway because I hurt my toe. And now we lost to the Baptists and every time I get to the office my co-worker is going to let me know about it. I hate Frank.”

Now this has escalated to a point where Jesus says that the Church needs to have a family meeting. Bob and Frank are members of the family and their actions are tearing the Church family apart. If these two are not careful, the Church could split over this act—some siding with Bob and others with Frank to the point where neither side wants to talk to the other. (Even here it sounds silly, I have seen Church’s split for similarly asinine reasons, and it is just as silly and just as sad.) Now the Church has to show Bob and Frank what their actions are doing to the greater body of the Church.

This is not saying “because I am not an eye I am not a part of the body,” but saying, “there is only room for one eye here and we are both eyes. Pick one and sever that other one.” Sin separates. That was its initial intended goal: to separate man from God. And once man is separated from God, then next step is to separate the one who looks like him: man—made in God’s image. What Jesus told us last week is that the Church is the final fail-safe so that the Body of Christ may remain intact.
However, we are also given free will and so Bob can say, “You know it just isn’t enough. Frank is supposed to be a Christian and he behaved so un-Christianly that it damaged what it means for me to be a Christian, so I cannot be a part of this. I refuse any attempt that Frank has made to reconcile and I am done with him and you all for picking him.” Jesus then says to let him go, because he has willingly walked away and willingly refused to reconcile.

This week we learn what to do when Bob finally realizes what he did and wants to come back.

Peter comes to Jesus, and asks him, “How many times someone should be forgiven—seven times?” In the realm of “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”—Peter is being overwhelmingly generous. But Jesus says, “No. Try 70 times 7. Or as many as it takes.”

Then Jesus demonstrates with the parable of the unforgiving servant. The servant owes a huge debt that he could never repay but is forgiven that debt. The servant then goes to someone who owes him a small amount that was fairly easily repaid, but refuses to forgive the debt. The king who was owed the large sum heard of this and then says to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” And then the king threw him in jail until he could pay the debt.

Jesus essentially tells Peter, “You forgive the person who sins against you as many times as is necessary because you sin against God and come to him for forgiveness and would like him to forgive you as many times as it takes. Isn’t it a little hypocritical of you to expect forgiveness while at the same time refusing to give forgiveness to another who seeks it?”

Jesus also tells this same thing to Bob. Bob has bopped around to several different Churches since leaving his Church home and never really found a place that felt comfortable. He really misses going to his former Church and would go back in a heartbeat, if only Frank would move so he can come back. But Frank is not going anywhere so Bob is stuck attending the Baptist Church that beat his Church in the Softball Championship.

Then one day, Bob is sitting in that Baptist Church when he hears the preacher start preaching on this very Gospel lesson. Bob’s heart is strangely warmed and he remembers all the things that he has ever done wrong in his life—and he shudders. (Bob used to be a really bad person before attending his former Church.) And Bob remembers that he has been forgiven all those previous sins, and, in fact, he turned his life around and carved out a pretty good life there—it is a shame that he had to leave it because of Frank. But then the preacher says, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Bob now knows what he has to do. He is not happy here at the Baptist Church—but it has nothing to do with the Baptist Church it has to do with Frank. And so Bob decides that he is going to swallow his pride and head back and deal with his relationship with Frank.
So, luckily, Bob began going to the early service in the Baptist Church and so he was able to attend the later service at his former Church and this was the service that Frank always went to as well. In fact, it was because Bob always sat in the pew behind Frank that he got into the Softball League in the first place. After months of handshaking at the peace, Frank decided to sit next to Frank and his wife during coffee hour afterward. During that conversation, Bob learned that Frank was the captain of the team and that they were looking for a new centerfielder—the exact position Bob played—and a friendship was born.

So Bob sneaks in and sits behind Frank and, at the peace, Frank turns around and there is Bob. Initially Frank is taken a bit aback because it has been a couple months, but, seeing his friend there where he should be, Frank sticks out his hand for the peace. As they grasp hands, Frank pulls Bob into a hug and says, “I’m glad you are here. Can you ever forgive me for being such a jerk? I barely remember the incident, but I do remember that I hurt you and I am sorry.”

Bob hugs his friend, and with tears in his eyes says, “Of course. Can you forgive me for the way I acted?” Frank: “Of course. Now let’s talk Softball. How’s the toe? We really need you in Centerfield if we are going to win that trophy back from the Baptist Church.”

Beloved, willingness to forgive is essential to our relationship with God. Jesus tells us this. If we are not willing to give it then we should not be willing to ask for it from God. Because if we get the cart before the horse and seek his forgiveness, hoping he is blind to our refusal, he tells us here, his answer will be to turn us right around and tell us to go handle our own business first. Only then are we free to ask forgiveness of God for our sins.

In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.

Gathering Not Scattering

In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.

Let’s recap from last week, Jesus told his disciples that the Son of Man must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and on the third day be raised. Peter tried to give Jesus a little pep talk thinking he was doubting his mission: “Not on my watch. We—I mean you—will win. Jesus, have a little confidence in yourself.” To which Jesus responds, “Get behind me Satan, for you are not on the side of God but of man.”

Jesus then showed his disciples what it would look like for them to be followers of the Messiah: “Take up your cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Then he took the inner three and confirmed this revelation and showed them his ultimate goal: restoration of the perfect image of God to humanity by removing the stain of sin.

As they came back to the disciples in Caesarea Philippi Jesus began to show them what this will look like—beginning with a boy who with a demon that his disciples were unable to cast out. Then he sat down and taught them again about the Messiah: “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Now, after this, the gang packs up and heads back south, back to home base at Capernaum where there is a rather weird encounter with a tax collector. The collector comes up and asks Peter, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” Peter dutifully proclaims, “Yes of course Jesus is current on his taxes, right Jesus (aside: we are not rejecting that yet right)?”

To which Jesus asks Peter, “What do you think Peter, from whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or others?” And when Peter correctly responds “others”, Jesus says, “then the sons are free.” Jesus then tells the man to go fishing and the first fish he catches will have a coin worth double Jesus’ tax, that way he can pay his and the tax collector’s. It is rather weird, but this scene shows Jesus redeeming this man, taking away the burden of being taxed by an earthly king, in a way that is obviously from God.

Apparently the rest of the disciples were not present for this encounter because they come up to Jesus and are still talking about the fact that Jesus is the Messiah. Now they know without a doubt that Jesus is the Messiah, Peter, James and John, heard it directly from God. And if Peter got his turn in the spotlight to make a fool of himself, now the rest of the disciples take their turn. “Jesus, since you are the Messiah, sent from God and will deliver your people from the hand of the Romans and re-establish Jewish rule, who will get placed where in your kingdom? I mean we got in on the ground level so we should be placed at the top right?”

So Jesus calls a child over to him, since the disciples are probably hanging out at Peter’s house, he probably calls over one of Peter’s children (we read earlier that he had a mother-in-law which means a wife, so children are not out of the realm of possibility) and sits the child on his knee and teaches his disciples.

First, you must humble yourself like this child here. A child accepts the authority over him, adults are adults and need to be listened to. (Children may not be the best at the execution of this knowledge, but they know they should.) In fact, unless you turn and become like this child, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. And whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus is telling them that they, like Peter before, have gone off half-cocked and not listened to the complete directions before making a decision and acting on it. In fact, he tells them that if they persist in their thinking, in effect, causing the child cease to listen to him and follow him exactly, it would be better for them as pied piper to tie a millstone around their necks and jump off a cliff into the sea.
He is talking about children, but all are children in God’s eyes, so anyone knowingly leading others astray, away from the kingdom of God has quite the reckoning later. In fact, a person who does this would be better off killing himself, causing himself to immediately stop, than to persist in piping his tune and leading God’s children away from him.

Second, strip yourself of all things preventing you from following exactly my teaching (about the Messiah and the redemption of mankind—remember this is still in regard to the disciples misguided thoughts on the Messiah). In fact, if you look at the body of your belief and notice that your foot is causing you to sin—cut it off, it is better to hobble theologically than to persist in this belief and be thrown into the eternal fire.

Third, I have been to bring back those who are lost. Rather than leading astray, we are going to be bringing back. Since we are thinking earthly here, let’s talk earthly. Shepherds, when a sheep is lost, leave the rest and go find that sheep because, if not, he is going to be responsible for having lost it and have to pay for it.

We learned a bit about this in Bible study last Wednesday with Jacob. The standard practice when tending sheep is that if the sheep wander off due to the negligence of the shepherd and cannot be recovered, the shepherd is financially responsible for the sheep and must make restitution for it to the owner. However, if a predator comes and the shepherd is unable to defend the entire flock, as long as the shepherd shows proof that the predator killed the sheep (read here brings back the pieces), he is not responsible.

So if the shepherd returns with the lost sheep he rejoices because he does not have to pay for the sheep. (This is not necessarily because the shepherd loves the sheep, because even if he doesn’t love the sheep, he is still financially responsible for each one of them.) Jesus tells the disciples, so it is with the children of my Father, we are not to scatter them with falseness, but we are to gather them because they are the property of another and we will be held accountable for leading them away—because the Father DOES love them.

Fourth, since we are in the business of gathering not scattering, here is the way that is accomplished: through reconciliation—brother to brother. Make every attempt to reconcile. When you offend your brother, go to him one on one and see if you can work it out between the two of you. If that proves impossible, bring two or three witnesses that everything you say may be proved truthful. This can help to keep everything in perspective by bringing in impartial third parties that can show the two where they are getting bogged down due to their closeness to the situation.

If there is still a problem, bring them to the Church, maybe the sheer witness of numbers who come in love will convince the other to cease the feud. However, if that fails, then this person has not walked away due to negligence but to willfulness. Some people refuse to be reconciled and when this is the case, it is better to allow them freedom to walk away from the entire Church than to keep them there against their will.

Beloved, we are called to gather through radical reconciliation. Twice in the Gospel today the word Church is used—ekklesia. Ek – out, kaleo – to call. The Church is to function as the ones who are called out. And by doing this we are called out to gather—by any means necessary.

God knows that there will be rifts between two people—we are human, but he has called us beyond the world that tells us to shuck a person if you are mad at them—especially in the Church because this deals directly with salvation. If it is possible to settle the matter between yourself and the person wronged, then do so between two of you. If not, seek help while still trying to keep it as quiet as possible to preserve dignity and prevent scandal. However, if quietness fails to work, then escalate the matter to the body of those called out in love to see if that will help. If not, that person has alienated themselves of their own free will.

Next week we will learn what to do if that person finally does come around?
In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.

Here is the link to the Audio: