Sunday, September 6, 2020 Lectionary 23, Year A
Conflict is a part of relationships and life in community. Jesus’ words in today’s gospel are often used in situations having to do with church discipline. The prophet Ezekiel tells of warning the wicked to turn from their ways, and Paul reminds us that love is the fulfilling of the law. We gather in the name of Christ, assured that he is present among us with gifts of peace and reconciliation.
Prayer of the Day
O Lord God, enliven and preserve your church with your perpetual mercy. Without your help, we mortals will fail; remove far from us everything that is harmful, and lead us toward all that gives life and salvation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-11
7So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. 9But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.
10Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?” 11Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
Psalm: Psalm 119:33-40
33Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. 34Give me understanding, and I shall keep your teaching; I shall keep it with all my heart. 35Lead me in the path of your commandments, for that is my desire. 36Incline my heart to your decrees and not to unjust gain.37Turn my eyes from beholding falsehood; give me life in your way. 38Fulfill your promise to your servant, which is for those who fear you. 39Turn away the reproach that I dread, because your judgments are good. 40Behold, I long for your commandments; by your righteousness enliven me.
Second Reading: Romans 13:8-14
8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20
[Jesus said to the disciples:] 15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
Theme for the Season of Pentecost (Autumn/November)
Teach me, Give me understanding, Lead me in spirit and truth
The season of Pentecost is long. From Easter to Advent, we spend time hearing stories of Jesus’ life and ministry, inspiring us to deeper faith and discipleship. We also learn about the struggles of God’s people throughout history, and the difficulty of building faith based on the seemingly impossible love and grace the Creator showers upon us.
Jesus teaches his disciples and followers through stories and parables. Most of the time, these illustrations of the Kingdom of God fly right over their heads… until Jesus takes the time to gently, clearly, and compassionately open their eyes and hearts to the wondrous love and grace shining right in front of their eyes.
This is true for us even today. As disciples of a risen Lord and Savior, we hear the stories of miracles, signs and wonders, and the everyday teachings of the Rabbi who gathers children at his feet. So often, we seek ways to stuff the Kingdom of God into our own molds. As we approach the end of the long Pentecost season, we are challenged to let God open our hearts to the amazing things he has in store for us. The Kingdom of God is here, today, all around us. May we be faithful disciples and stewards of God’s gifts of love and grace. The theme for worship this season is a prayer, in three simple phrases. Teach me, give me understanding, and lead me in spirit and truth. May this prayer guide us in our study, inspire us in our worship, and fill us with God’s love and grace to share with the world.