Year C – Proper 21 – Amos 6:1, 4-7

1 Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel comes…

4 Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the stall;
5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
and like David improvise on instruments of music;
6 who drink wine from bowls,
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
7 Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

Summary— Amos, in his extended lawsuit against both the southern kingdom of Judah (“Zion” and “Mount Samaria,” v.1) and the northern kingdom of Israel (“Joseph,” v.6), targets “the notable men” (v.1)—which is to say, the aristocracy to whom others came for guidance and leadership (v.1): these leaders were preoccupying themselves with inordinate luxury (vss. 4-6) in the face of Joseph’s ruin (v.6)!  Specifically, they were sprawled out on ivory beds (v.4), eating the finest delicacies (v.4), bellowing drinking songs (fancying themselves musicians of David’s caliber! v.5), in a drunken stupor (proud that they had the largest stein at Oktoberfest, v.6), and dousing themselves with the priciest cologne they could waste their money on (v.6).  All this while Israel played the anti-type to Joseph (v.6)—wallowing at the bottom of the pit, about to be taken into exile.

Insight— These leaders regarded themselves as the first men of the first nation (v.1).  Well then, says God, they can be the first to go into exile (v.7).  How apropos.

Child Catechism—
Q:
  Is it always time to relax and have fun?
A:  No, not when I should be helping others, instead.

Discussion— Should leaders ever relax?  When?  When should they not?  Are most people more tempted not to relax when they should, or to relax when they should not?

Prayer— Great Shepherd, give to us, Your flock, under-shepherds who love You and us more than their bellies, that they might train us for good works, and thereby secure our hope that on the Last Day, You will embrace them and us into Your joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

[Contributed by Scott Cline]

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Year C – Proper 20 – Amos 8:4-7

Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
saying, ‘When will the new moon be over
so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath,
so that we may offer wheat for sale?
We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,
and practice deceit with false balances,
buying the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and selling the sweepings of the wheat.’

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

Summary— In the Prophecy of Amos, Yahweh spends only 1:3 through 2:3 judging various pagan peoples.  By 2:4, He begins leveling judgement against the house of Israel, and in chapter 8, He’s still going strong!  In this section, He targets those who compartmentalize business and friendship, so that the “needy” wind up trampled on (v.4).  These businessmen are litigious about holy days, but even then look forward to the next day’s opportunity to turn a buck (v.5a).  They offer less product for more money (v.5b).  In verse 6, “silver” is probably a loan made to “the poor,” in hopes that the poor will default and thereby give himself up as a slave.  Similarly, “a pair of sandals” in this context is probably the product sold on credit, in hopes that “the needy” will be unable to pay even for those, and have to pay by his slavery (a pair of sandals is a small price for a businessman to pay for a valuable slave!).  In verse 7, Yahweh swears that He will never forget this evil.

Insight— Oaths are typically made on the basis of something solid—something constant and dependable.  People swear by God’s Name (Deut. 6:13), or by Baal (Jer. 12:16), or by the temple or by heaven (Matt. 23:16-22), or by one greater than themselves (Heb. 6:16).  Well, in verse 7, Yahweh makes a jab at these greedy businessmen: He swears by the most trustworthy element in this situation: Jacob’s pride.

Child Catechism—
Q:
Why should we be generous to a needy person?
A: Because generosity to a needy person honors that needy person’s Maker (Prov. 14:31).

Discussion— What are some good reasons to pursue financial profit?

Prayer— O God, to love money too much is to love You and neighbor too little. Save us from our greed, and help us to pursue profit ordinately, not to consume it on our lusts, but to love others by it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year C – Proper 19 – Exodus 32:7-14

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” ’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.’ But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, ‘O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, “I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.” ’ And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Summary— Moses had spent forty days on Mt. Sinai, receiving further instruction from Yahweh.  The children of Israel at the base of the mountain, not sure what had become of him and wanting some reassurance of Yahweh’s presence, had persuaded Aaron to fashion a young bull out of gold, to represent Him.  Although they had not turned to another god, per se, they had presumed to represent Yahweh too concretely and unworthily.  This kindled Yahweh’s wrath, so that He declared His intent to wipe them out and replace them with a new nation from the loins of Moses.  Instead of grasping at this opportunity to be the New Abraham—instead of jumpting at this chance to father God’s People, called “the children of Moses”—Moses interceded for the children of Israel out of zeal for Yahweh’s reputation: Yahweh had delivered this people out of Egypt—if He destroyed them now, the pagan world would get the wrong idea about Him.  What’s more, Yahweh had promised the land to Abraham’s decendents forever—if He destroyed them now, His faithfulness would be in question.  Yahweh relented.

Insight— If God has planned the end from the beginning, ordaining whatsoever shall come to pass—and, if He is all knowing and all wise, and if man is not—then, how is it that He “relented” from His plans, at the pleading of Moses?  Or, for that matter, how is it that our prayers ever “change” anything?  The answer must be that God authors the entire story, including our prayers.  He has planned the situations that we pray about, and He has planned that we pray about them, and He has planned His response to our prayers.  In other words, there is a very real level on which God interacts with us, and there is an equally real level on which He has ordained all parts of that interaction.

Child Catechism—
Q:
  Does God really answer our prayers?
A: Yes, God has planned our situations, our prayers, and His answers.

Discussion— Why do you think that Yahweh “set Moses up” to intercede for Israel in the way that he did?

Prayer— Yahweh, You have ordained the end from the beginning, so that we need never question whether anything which comes to pass has been ordained by You.  Not only does this not exclude our prayers, but it in fact establishes their importance: for, You have planned our free and heartfelt prayers, and Your answers, for You love to hear and answer us.  Your ways are unsearcheable, and Your love everlasting, in Jesus Christ Your Son through Whom we pray.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year C – Seventeenth Sunday in Pentecost – 1 Timothy 1:12-17

1 Timothy 1:12-17 NRSV

12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16 But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Summary – In this passage Paul praises God for being gracious and merciful to him, the chief of sinners. Paul’s past sin of persecuting the church and blaspheming God did not make him unworthy of salvation, he testifies. For the whole reason Jesus Christ came into this world was to save sinners, even the foremost! And Paul says that it was for that very reason that he in fact did receive mercy – because he was the worst of all sinners, and Jesus Christ wanted to use him to show other sinners that their sins do not disqualify them from receiving eternal life.

 Insight – How many people have you heard say something like, “Oh, I can’t come to God yet, I need to get my life right first, and then I’ll come.” Or, “God would never want me in heaven, I am too much of a sinner.” Or, “My sins are way too great, I’m already going to hell, I know it.”  Well, the one thing that is true about such statement is that the person is a sinner. This is true. And yes, it is true that sin separates us from God. But to think that God does not desire a persons salvation because of their sin is completely backwards. God desires to save people who are sinners! “This is a trustworthy statement, deserving of full acceptance,  that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” God is not in the business of helping those who have it all together. God desires more than anything to save sinners. Your sin is not a hindrance from you obtaining eternal life, in fact, being a sinner is a prerequisite! And God demonstrates His patience in saving sinners by showing us in Paul’s life, that if God saved the worst of sinners, He desires to save you as well.

Catechism – Q. For who did Christ Jesus came into the world to save? A. Sinners.

Discussion – Does your sin ever make you think that God no longer wants you? If you were a sinner before God saved you and chose to show His love for you, how much more so does God love you and want you to be saved now that you are reconciled to Him by His grace and mercy?

Prayer – To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, honor and glory be your name forever and ever. For in your infinite and everlasting patience, you came to this world to save sinful humans. Our sins is not a stumbling block for you saving us. Thank you God that you you save sinners totally and completely, even the worst. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Year C- 21 Sunday after Pentecost – Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16

Text –
91:1 You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

2 will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”

3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;

4 he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

5 You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day,

6 or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.

15 When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them.

16 With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.

Summary – The Psalmist here is describing peace that comes from resting in God’s protection. Those who live in God’s shelter will receive his protection. This protection is described as being like a bird who spreads it’s wings and pinions over it’s chicks to protect them from prey or the elements. Those who trust in God will not have to fear any danger, whether it comes in the night, or in the daytime. In verse 14, the psalm switches from a person speaking to God speaking. In verses 14-16 God promises that he will deliver, protect and always be with his people in their troubles. He promises and answer those who call out to him, and promises to send his salvation.

Insight – What is something that you worry about or are scared of? Whether it’s something as simple as being alone in the dark or maybe loud thunderstorms to something more grave such as serious illness or death, this psalm tells us that we do not need to be afraid. Nothing is outside of God’s power. Now does this mean that nothing bad will ever happen to us? No it does not. If we look at the entire book of the Psalms we see that bad things do happen. But these things never happen apart from God’s presence. In the midst of troubles or dangers of life, where do we look for help? Do we pray to God who promises to be with us in our trouble. Do we look to Jesus Christ, who has showed us how much he loves and cares for us by dying on the cross? By looking, and meditating on this sacrificial love of God that we can be sure that “neither death, or life, nor angles nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate us from God, and thus we are protected from all the dangers of life.

Catechism – What happens to those who cry out to God, when they are in trouble? God will always answer them.

Question – What are some ways that you often respond when you are facing trouble or hardship? How might thinking about the love of God, in Christ change how you respond to your hardships?

Prayer – Heavenly Father, our Lord and Protector, we thank you that you so preserves us that without your will, not even a hair can fall from our heads. We thank you for your love that you showed on the cross, and we ask that you would be with us in our day of trouble, that you would protect us in our hardships, and that we would have boldness in the face of your enemies, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

Contributed by Jared McNAbb

Year C – Proper 20 – Luke 16:1-13

Luke 16:1–13 – “1   Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7 Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.””

Summary – This unusual passage is sometimes called the Parable of Shrewd Manager or the Parable of the Unjust Steward. The Steward is a freedman who is set over the estate of a wealthy man. It is reported that the Steward has squandered some of the wealthy man’s property. The owner determines to dismiss the steward over this. But now the steward will have nothing. He can’t labor (dig) and he is too proud to beg. So he comes up with a plan to get help from others. He addresses the debtors to the wealthy man and cuts their debts, in some cases by 50%. This will give the steward favor in the eyes of these debtors or perhaps even a job with someone else. One would think the wealthy owner would be even more mad at the steward, however, “his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.” Jesus explains that his shrewdness was praised by even the owner and draws the analogy that the sons of light (believers) must also be shrewd with how they use “dishonest or unrighteous wealth.” We must be faithful in the lesser things, such as using money purposely, if we are to be entrusted with those things of greater value.

Insight – How could Jesus praise this cheating servant? After all he squandered some wealth and then gave away as much as 50% of the debts owed to the master. It is possible that the steward is wrongly accused of squandering and that the reduction of the debt is just the reduction of interest owed which is lessening usury charges (which were unlawful anyway). I doubt this is the point, though. The main lesson is that this man was resourceful with “unrighteous wealth” even to his last official action in office as a steward. It was not his ethics that were praised, but his shrewd action, his resourcefulness in the situation. Jesus is saying that the sons of light must use money and wealth in shrewd ways for the kingdom, because such wealth will not last. In the historical situation, all the wealth of Jerusalem was only going to be destroyed (70 AD). Those who sold houses and land for the kingdom were shrewd, like Barnabas (Acts 4:37). Being faithful in using money in this way qualifies one for greater investment  and that is what we see in the life of Barnabas who goes on to encourage Paul, lead the church in Antioch and pursue the extension of the kingdom in missions. Barnabas is a good example of the principle, “You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Catechism – Which two masters cannot be served together? You cannot serve God and wealth.

Discussion – Why is wealth in this parable called “unrighteous wealth” or “dishonest wealth”? Is all wealth dishonest? What are some ways to shrewdly use money for the kingdom?

Prayer – Father, we praise your for your infinite provision of life in Christ. Grant to us repentance from the love of money and joy in serving you with all our resources. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Year C – 20th Sunday after Pentecost – Psalm 79:1-9

Text – 79:1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the air for food, the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth.

3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.

4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us.

5 How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire?

6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call on your name.

7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation.

8 Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.

9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake.

Summary – This Psalm is a Psalm of lament, and crying out to the Lord. Jerusalem has been destroyed and the temple, the place of worship, has been ruined and defiled. This appears to be the invasion of the Chaldeans (2 Chronicles 36:17-20) which who killed many Israelites, and stole the temple treasures. The Psalmists here describes the violence done to them by their invaders, and how low the people have sunk. He also recognizes that it is the Israelites own sin that has caused this. However, he now calls out to God to remember not their sin, but rather to atone for their sin, to show compassion on them and save them from their enemies. He asks God to do this to the glory of his name.

Insight – Sin always brings consequences into our lives. It may not look like a violent invasion, but it always has consequences. Sin always looks appealing, but if we choose to repeatedly follow it, and indulge in it, it will always ruin us. We were made by God to worship him alone, and he will not allow our turning from him to go unpunished. But since we are sinful people, where do we look to for help. Like the Psalmist we look to God, namely Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Psalmist request in verses 8-9. His death for our sins is the reason God forgives our sins. Jesus Christ is our salvation, our deliver, and his death and resurrection is for our atonement. This was all done for his name sake, that we may glorify in his name.

Discussion – Why is it that our sins always bring negative consequences?

Catechism – Why does God deliver us, and forgive our sins? For the glory of his name

Prayer – Holy Father, We confess that we are sinful people, and deserving of your punishment. But we also know and believe in your Son, whom you sent to to make atonement for our sins, to deliver us, and forgive us. This is a great mystery to our eyes, but causes us to praise the great name of Jesus, to whom be all glory, and power. Amen.

 

Submitted by Jared M McNabb

 

Year C – Sixteenth Sunday in Pentecost – Philemon 1-12

Philemon 1-21 NRSV

1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, 2 to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God 5 because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. 7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.

8 For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, 9 yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. 10 I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. 13 I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced.15 Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.

Summary – Paul wrote a letter to a Christian man named Philemon. Philemon had a slave named Onesimus (which means “useful”) who had stolen money from Philemon and then ran away. In God’s providence, Onesimus ends up meeting Paul who was in prison in Rome (v.10). Under Paul, Onesimus becomes a Christian. Paul attempts to reconcile the broken relationship between Onesimus and Philemon, so he writes this letter to Philemon appealing to him to accept Onesimus back, not just as a slave, but as a brother in the Lord (v.16). Now that Onesimus is a Christian he is more “useful” than he was before, and so it would benefit Philemon to accept him back (v.11). Paul also appeals to Philemon to charge the debt that Onesimus owes Philemon to Paul’s account (v. 18-19). Paul sent this letter to Philemon by the hand of Onesimus. Tradition tells us that Onesimus later became a bishop in the Church, proving himself to be more “useful” than anyone had expected.

Insight – The key theme of this letter, is reconciliation – that is, making peace between two parties who were hostile toward each other. Undoubtedly there was tension and strife between Philemon and Onesimus since Onesimus had stolen from Philemon. But Paul, reflecting on the work of the Lord Jesus, seeks to bring peace and reconciliation to a broken relationship. We were once hostile toward God, and at enmity with him, and had accumulated a massive amount of debt of sin, that we could never repay. But Jesus, on the cross, charges our debt to His account, and makes peace between us and the Father, thus reconciling us forever (v. 15). Paul seeks to do the same for Philemon and Onesimus.  This is a beautiful picture of God’s grace in freely justifying sinners.

Catechism – What does Onesimus mean?  Onesimus means “useful.”

Discussion – Discuss “reconciliation”, and apply that to the Christian’s relationship with God. Discuss ways to seek reconciliation with others. Discuss charging the debt to another’s account.

Prayer – Dear Lord God, we praise you for reconciling us to yourself, through the cross of the Christ, and canceling the debt that we owed you. Please grant us grace to be useful to you and others in this life, as we live debt free lives of gratitude. In Jesus name, Amen.

 Submitted by Michael J. Shover

Year C – Proper 18 – Deuteronomy 30:15-20

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Summary— What should have been a short trip from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion—from Law to Communion—had taken 40 years, due to Israel’s disobedience. The Law is God’s fence: if His People break it, they become feral. The first generation who heard the Law had done just that; as a result, they were not brought into God’s Land.  Now, after a generation’s delay, a second generation is being given the opportunity to hear God’s Law afresh.  This second generation is standing on the borders of Canaan, ready to do what their parents did not.  Moses, immediately before handing the reins over to Joshua and dying, is reiterating everything their parents had heard.  And the final portion of his address is the passage above: obey and be blessed and live, or else disobey and be cursed and die.

Insight— This is not the first time that God has put life and death before His People.  He said the same thing, essentially, to Adam and Eve in the Garden: obey and live, disobey and die.  And it is not as though Adam would start living after enough obeying—no, Adam was already alive, so his obedience would earn him nothing; but, his disobedience would put him out of God’s Land and kill him. 

Child Catechism—
Q:
  What happens to those who do not care about God’s Law?
A: They are kicked out of God’s Land.

Discussion— In the Garden and in the Law, God blesses His People before they have obeyed, so that they have nothing to gain, but everything to lose.  How does this pattern carry into the New Testament?

Prayer— Lord, You have given us Your Land—the entire earth—to enjoy and to spread Your love through and to have dominion over.  Keep our hearts that we might keep Your Law and thereby keep our inheritance, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

[Contributed by Scott Cline]

Year C – Proper 19 – Luke 15:1-10

Luke 15:1–10 – “Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable: 4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.””

Summary – The ministry of Jesus showed compassion on those who were known to be sinners, such as low-life tax collectors and prostitutes. This caused those who thought they were righteous, the Pharisees and the scribes, to look down on Jesus and judge Him. Jesus explained that bring the lost back to God and seeing them desire to know God was the essence of joy in heaven. He did not come to save the “righteous” but sinners.

Insight – Have you ever looked down on someone because of the way they dress or because they do things you disapprove of? Perhaps you reason that, “Since I am a Christian, I don’t dress like that or do that.” While it may be true that “as a Christian I don’t dress like that or do that,” don’t make the mistake of thinking that makes you more righteous and so you can sit in judgment over them. Our righteousness is like filthy rags before God. Only being “in Christ” by faith causes God to see us through the righteousness of Jesus. What kind of righteousness did Jesus have? He had the kind that looked with compassion and mercy on those that were obviously destroying their lives with sin. This is the kind of righteousness that Jesus had: grace, mercy and compassion. When we judge others because we think we are more righteous (of ourselves), we are doing just what the Pharisees did.

Catechism – What brings the greatest joy in heaven? One sinner who repents.

Discussion – Do you have anyone in your life that constantly judge as “in sin”? What kind of attitude should you have toward them?

Prayer – Persistently forgiving God,
we are a stiff-necked and stubborn people
who try your patience;
yet, instead of giving us up for lost,
you seek us out until we return to you.
Break our willfulness
and bring us back from our wanderings;
bend our pride and create in us pure and faithful hearts,
which rejoice in your forgiveness
made known through Jesus Christ. Amen.