Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Heart of the Matter


Back to Beverly 

What a week it’s been….

There was Halloween Day…the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther and his 95 theses and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation that changed the world…(although I spent time in Argentina and Uruguay  with our Waldensian  brothers and sisters ,our official Presbyterian partners in Argentina and Uruguay, who started a reformation 343 years before Luther…hunted, persecuted, oppressed, they hid in the mountains and valleys...when they saw Luther they decided that they could join in)…

The annual Halloween/All Saints/All Souls day cycle…Some of our church friends  are celebrating All Saints today…the church recognized how powerful riutalswere this time of year and tried to baptize these holidays and make Christians out of them.I think I can safely say the fact is the pagans won…but this Halloween was different…at 4 PM while handing our candy, I saw the crawl on the bottom of the TV screen…8 dead…Stuyvestant High Schoo locked down…and soon learned of the terrorist attack… what’s really sad to me is how quickly I turned to wonderiing how it would affect the subways…from terror to inconvenience...

The Astros won the World Series, giving Houston, a city that’s  been through so much, something to feel good about…

About earthshaking things, last night was  the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution….another event that changed the world…and how the Soviet Union that scared us so much didn’t even last 100 years…

And of course, today is Marathon Sunday….

Take a breath….

Where’s Jesus today?
Talking with his disciples about the scribes and pharisees..and he says something very strange….do what they say, not what they do…what’s up with that?
  1. He is affirming that their teaching is STILL valid…their interpretations still appropriate…remember …remember…as he said in Matthew 5: 17-20

    17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

    19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
    20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    So he’s talking with his disciples about the scribes and pharisees..and he says something very strange….do what they say, not what they do…what’s up with that?

    1. He is affirming that their teaching is STILL valid…their interpretations still appropriate…remember …remember...
    2. What they do drives him  crazy….
      1. Tying up people by judgment … many years did we do that?
      2. They love the fanciest clothes, fanciest vestments, stoles, etc…(in the cathedral at Lima, I saw the incredible wealth and beauty of the church reflected in its vestments….perhaps paid for with Inca ransom gold
      3. They want seats of honor at banquets…charity fund raisers, getting to do the invocation, sitting with the top business leaders, politicians, celebrities, etc…
      4. They like to be greeted in the marketplace…like the first  pastor I worked for ….with church paid for membership in the best  clubs, downtown and country..

    Now here’s something for us…call no one father? How do Roman Catholics? Anglicans? Feel about that?
    But we’re not off the hook either…we are officially called teaching elders? And Jesus says call no man teacher…

    Remember these words:
    5 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
    We are to heart of the matter..
    11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    it’s like when the scribes and pharisees came and tried to trip Jesus up about divorce...(see Matthew 19:3-12/Mark 10:2-12)…here’s the thing, and he’s always consistent…he wants us to go to the heart of the matter…

    Stop all the quibbling about strict interpretations of things..go to the heart of the matter…when I was a soccer coach, and teaching kids, when it came to rules it was always like , “well what if I…” and I was no, forrget it …go to the heart of the rules, play there, not on the edge..
    Remember when Bill  Clinton said it al depends on what “is”means? Here's what Bill Clinton said to the grand jury about why he wasn't lying when he said to his top aides that with respect to Monica Lewinsky, "there's nothing going on between us." ... "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is’ is,

    All well and good and maybe important in a court of law, but not in day to day living…Christian living is not about how close you can get to the out of bounds line…the question is what is at the heart of the matter…

    And that heart is serving one another, with humility…knowing that we all fall  short….and as we accept ourselves as we are, and act accordingly,God loves us for that…those who do the most menial jobs  here are the most important…so let us not be confused…go to the heart of the matter...

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