Pentecost 24, Oct. 30, 2016

Title:Pentecost 24, Oct. 30, 2016

October 30, 2016 (full size gallery)

Two services today – 9am Holy Eucharist, Rite I and 11am Morning Prayer Rite II with "Godly Play" and "God’s Kids" in between.  Warmer weather has come again – mild with substantial clouds as the day wore on with muted sun. Small turnout overall – 5 at 9am, 32 at 11am.

Today was the kickoff for the "Season of Giving" ,organizing giving in November and December to 4 causes – UTO, Samaritan’s Purse, ECM and the Village Harvest Food distribution. Today, Betty handed out UTO boxes explaining how the coins save go a long way. In 2016 UTO awarded 32 grants for a total of $1,161,315 for the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Our collection will be Nov. 13. Last year we collected $850 from 18 people.

We also heard from Vestry member Becky Fisher about various ways people could use to help fulfill our stewardship responsibilities. Here is the video link

Today’s readings explore the transformation that follows our encounters with God. Isaiah warns against empty religiosity and brings God’s promise of cleansing and purity. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul encourages steady faith that waits quietly for the transformation brought by Christ. In the gospel story, Jesus grants salvation to a wealthy man who responds to Jesus with repentance and generosity.

Canon Lance Ousley of the Diocese of Washington provides these thoughts:

"Zacchaeus’ response to being received unconditionally into the company of Jesus, or even more by being asked to host Jesus as an honor, comes straight from Zacchaeus’ joyful heart. In Luke 19:1-10 we hear no request, demand or judgment given to Zacchaeus from Jesus that he should give half his possessions to the poor or repay four times what he has taken through fraudulent means. Zacchaeus simply responds in gratitude with the authenticity of his new-found relationship.  

"Likewise, Paul’s heart bursts with pride as he writes to the Thessalonians expressing his continuous prayers of thanksgiving for their faith authentically being exhibited by their relationships with one another and within the greater community. Their steadfast love and perseverance of faith in light of persecutions they endure make their actions even more authentic in response to the Gospel they have received.

"Christian stewardship is not paying dues. It is living authentically into our relationship with God responding with our time, our abilities and our resources to express our heart’s gratitude for God’s unconditional love we receive in Christ. And our stewardship fuels the ministry of achieving God’s desire for goodwill of all people and all of creation. Stewardship is our love for God manifested in our relationships with God, God’s people, creation, and how we use our resources for God’s kingdom. Wherever your heart is, there, too, you will place your treasure. Stewardship is a matter of the heart."

The sermon looked at the Psalm and Gospel readings. It started with Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the Psalm 32 on how to get a fresh start through confession to God.

"The last part of the sermons provided a challenge – "So here’s this week’s challenge. Be honest with yourself and God. “Argue it out with God,” as Isaiah says, and confess your sins to God. Make amends by ceasing to do evil, and ceasing to do evil is an act of the will. Learn to do good. Learning to do good is a process, and like everything else, doing good takes practice. Seek justice, and rescue the oppressed. Care for those who have no one to care for them. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart.”

"Remember, “the righteous and upright in heart are not the people who are sinless, but the people who are forgiven,” as J. Clinton McCann points out in the commentary on this psalm in The New Interpreter’s Bible. So rejoice! We are forgiven! Wear those garlands of hosannas around your necks, and with the psalmist, “Celebrate God. Sing together – everyone! All you honest hearts, raise the roof!”

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