Pentecost 20 -Using our gifts and relationships that God gives us to do the work God calls us to do.

Title:Pentecost 20 -Using our gifts and relationships that God gives us to do the work God calls us to do.

 Pentecost 20, Year B, Oct. 7, 2018 (full size gallery)

This week we had the St. Francis pet blessing on Thursday and at the same time assessed the Season of Creation which we ended on the same day. We are back to Pentecost, the 20th week.

This Sunday was Stewardship Sunday when we returned the pledge cards distributed on Sept 16. The theme has been “A Year of Thanksgiving for God’s Abundant Blessings.”

Stewardship is … “Using the gifts that God gives us to do the work God calls us to do.” No gift is too large for God’s work. We give back as we are given by God – generously.

Elizabeth distributed 300 daffodil bulbs in celebration of Stewardship Sunday and as an appropriate metaphor. The sermon was about relationships – marriage, covenant, and stewardship.

“The money we pledge and give to St Peter’s is one way that we support our covenant relationships with God and with one another.”

“This bulb is also a reminder of our covenantal relationships with God and with one another.

“What would happen to this bulb if you just took it home and never planted it? Say it rolled under your car seat on the way home and you forgot it.

“Sooner or later, without our care and tending, the bulb would dry out and die, and never get to live into the beautiful annual flowering that God has ordained for this bulb.

“In order to become, this bulb is depending on someone to plant it in God’s good earth, and then God will give the rain and the sunlight and the cold and then the warmth needed for the bulb to send leaves and then a stalk and at last a sunny bloom, straight out of the earth. We will work with God on behalf of this bulb so that it can become what God has planned for it to be.

“When the bulb blooms in the spring, its color brings light and hope and promise and helps to chase off the long cold tan, gray and brown colors of winter, along with an uplifting of spirit to all who gaze at that yellow light dancing across the landscape, truly a gift of God’s good creation.”

This week we also recognized Woody Everett’s birthday. The fall leaves were beginning to turn on a few leaves with a variety of colors though the weather was unseasonably warm.

After the service was coffee hour potluck with chicken and mushrooms, fried chicken, several potato salads, green salad, and peaches. The desert was Brad’s spice cake and another cake from the Blue Bar Bakery, a local bakery in Port Royal.

Today’s readings explore the richness of interdependence – relationships- Man to Woman, God to Man. Genesis is about the creation of women who married and becomes “one flesh” and the Gospel when Jesus is questioned about divorce from the pharisees (yet another relationship). Hebrews considers a special Christian community and explains the relationship of Jesus to God, to God’s creation and to humanity.

Jesus is now in Judea (or east of the Jordan, in Perea.) In the Gospel, “Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?'” s The Pharisees hopes their question will expose Jesus as dangerous to families.

Divorce in the first century was a generally accepted part of life, both among Jews and perhaps more so within wider Greco-Roman culture. Mosaic law permitted a man to divorce his wife (but not a woman her husband) for cause, but the grounds were unclear. Therefore, the debate between rabbis was limited to the reasons allowing men to dump their wives. One school permitted divorce only in the case of her adultery. Another allowed men the flimsiest excuse to divorce. Of the “career tracks” open to women, the most common options after they’d been evicted were prostitution or starvation.

Jesus turns the conversation with the Pharisees away from the legal foundation for divorce to God’s design for marriage. Jesus calls for a whole new way of looking at the issue. That is, he dismisses the law (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) as a concession to human weakness and offers a different perspective rooted in creation (quoting Genesis 1:27; 2:24).

He undermines male dominance by holding up an ideal in which women and men enjoy equal status, recognizing both their choice to divorce and the tragedy that ensues when either partner exercises that right. As in the Sermon on the Mount, he calls people to the ideal of absolute fidelity. His brief argument describes marriage as a strong and (literally) unifying bond between two people.

Jesus implies that he disapproves of divorce. More plainly, he says that divorce contravenes God’s design as expressed in Genesis 1-2. Later, with his disciples, he reveals more specifics, saying that a person who initiates a divorce to marry another person commits adultery. In all this, Jesus radicalizes the demands of scripture to a point perhaps far beyond where any Pharisee would have taken it..

One of Jesus’ primary concerns is the effect on children, who were at the bottom of the socio-economic scale. Children always suffered most from famine, war or social disintegration. At the most basic level of social organization, the household, Jesus reverses the normal assumptions. In his eyes, those who are least powerful are most important.

Jesus’ teaching about the relationship of the kingdom of God to the child focuses the disciples’ attention on those qualities—humility, submission, honesty and openness—that are necessary in a healthy relation to God.