|Pentecost 5, Year A||July 5, 2020||Pentecost 5, Proper 9, Year A||Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30|
|➤Pentecost 4, Year A||June 28, 2020||Pentecost 4, Proper 8, Year A, 2020||Romans 6:12-23, Matthew 10:40-42|
|Pentecost 3, Year A||June 21, 2020||Proper 7, Year A||Romans 6:1b-11, Matthew 10:24-39|
|Pentecost 2, Year A||June 14, 2020||Proper 6, Year A||Exodus 19:2-8a; Matthew 9:35-10:|
|First Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Sunday||June 7, 2020||Trinity Sunday||Genesis 1:1-2:4a; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Psalm 8; Matthew 28:16-20|
|The Day of Pentecost, Year A||May 31, 2020||The Day of Pentecost, Year A||John 20:19-23|
|Easter 7, Year A – Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||May 24, 2020||Seventh Sunday after Easter, Year A||Acts 1:6-14, 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11, John 17:1-11, Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36|
|Ascension Day, Year A||May 21, 2020||Ascension Day, Year A||Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-14|
|Easter 6, Year A||May 17, 2020||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 17:22-31, I Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21|
|Easter 5, Year A||May 10, 2020||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 14:1-14|
|Easter 4, Year A||May 3, 2020||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 2:42-47, John 10:1-10|
|Easter 3, Year A||April 26, 2020||Easter 3, Year A||Psalm 116; I Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35|
|Easter 2, Year A||April 19, 2020||Easter 2, Year A||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, Year A||April 12, 2020||Easter Sunday, Year A||Matthew 28:1-10|
|Good Friday, 2020||April 10, 2020||Meditation on the Cross, Good Friday, 2020||John 18:1-19:42|
Pentecost 4, Year A
Sermon Date:June 28, 2020
Scripture: Romans 6:12-23, Matthew 10:40-42
Liturgy Calendar: Pentecost 4, Proper 8, Year A, 2020
“Jesus and the Children”, Colgate Art Glass Co., 1907
Rolf Jacobson, in his “Working Preacher” commentary on today’s gospel passage, focuses on the fact that we, the disciples of Jesus are being sent out, and that when we get welcomed by those we go to, Jesus himself is welcomed.
Jesus goes on to say that whoever welcomes us receives a reward.
Our society is built on a reward system. We’ve been taught to believe that we deserve rewards. Remember that old commercial from McDonald’s—“You deserve a break today….”
I get emails from businesses that start out with this message—“You’ve earned a free something or other….”
We tend to reward ourselves in various ways—chocolate is my reward—shopping may be yours.
Or we might do things to get a reward from someone else. If I do something nice for you, maybe you’ll do something nice for me in return. Or on a sinister note, an aspiring gang member may randomly murder someone to receive the reward of becoming a member of a gang. Or maybe someone does something hateful to someone else to reward his or her own feelings of hatred—feeling a perverse joy by hurting someone else.
The reward system we live in and breathe in is transactional and ultimately selfish.
Jesus himself frequently talks about rewards, and especially in Matthew’s gospel, where he mentions rewards thirteen times.
But when Jesus talks about rewards, he turns our understanding of rewards upside down. So with the help of The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, here’s how Jesus thinks of rewards.
When Jesus talks about rewards, he is not talking about rewards that we earn or deserve.
Jesus explains throughout his teaching that we “all stand under the eyes of the Holy God; that we owe obedience to God as Lord; that our salvation can only be accomplished by God, that only God’s generosity grants a reward, and that it does so only to people with receptive hearts which are open to be blessed by the wonders of the kingdom of God. Reward is not a claim or a payment, but the grace of God’s love which finds in the kingdom of God the beginning and the completion of God’s overflowing generosity.”
For Jesus, the reward is all about God drawing us, in love, into the power and the glory of the kingdom of God.
So as The Theological Dictionary states, “Thus, the reward is simply the divine glory undeservedly received. This is the distinctive new revelation of Jesus as compared with Judaism and all other religions.” As Paul says in his letter to the Romans, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. That’s the reward—eternal life, divine glory undeservedly received.
In Chapter 10 of Matthew, the disciples are being sent out into the world carrying the good news of the kingdom of heaven. The people who receive the disciples and the Good News of God will find healing, the destruction of the demons that possess them, and the joy of no longer having to earn their way to love.
Earlier in Chapter 10, as Jesus gives the disciples instructions about going out, he says that he is sending us out like sheep among the wolves, that we are not to have fear, that we are to take up our crosses and to follow him, and that if we are not welcome, to shake the dust off our feet as we leave behind the place and the people that do not want the Good News of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus basically tells the disciples then and us now that he is sending us out to a world that will often not want to receive us.
But those who welcome us will receive the reward of opening their hearts to living in the kingdom of God’s unfailing love and mercy instead of being driven by this world’s system, in which every action is driven by human reward and punishment.
Our job as disciples is to carry the Good News of God’s kingdom into the world, not worrying about how we are received by those to whom God sends us.
Some people will be ready and waiting to hear the good news, to be freed from all of the sicknesses that infect our world, to be freed of the death dealing demons that have imprisoned them, to be freed from the need to earn anything, because God is waiting to fill them full with peace, mercy and love if they are willing to receive, and those people, who long for that Good News, will welcome us.
And in their welcoming of us, they too will be blessed by the wonders of the kingdom of God in which we are already living and moving and having our being.
What a joy! To think that even one person might be drawn into the kingdom of God because they welcomed one of us!
So carry the Good News of the kingdom of God wherever you go.
Someone is waiting and hoping for that Good News today, and if you bring the Good News, that person who has been waiting will welcome you and find Jesus present too.
And that’s Good News.
The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol IV, Gerard Kittel, ed., “The Concept of Reward in the New Testament,” pages 718-719.