WORSHIP WITH US!
8:30AM, 9:45AM in the hall, or 11AM

Location:
7150 Pines Blvd
Pembroke Pines, FL 33024
The SE corner of Pines Blvd and 72nd Ave
Across the street from Broward college South Campus lake
(954) 989-1903
tlcppines@gmail.com


Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Saturday, October 08, 2011

SERMON
SUNDAY OCTOBER 2nd                                           Matthew 22:1–14
Sunday night dinners at Grandmas  hold a special place in my memory of growing up.  The delightful smells in the kitchen, the table in the dining room with the fancy chairs and dinnerware, the real butter, the lazy Susan in the middle that we could spin around and check out the spices if we were very careful.  And we knew, we kids, that we needed to be on good behavior at grandma’s. Maybe not our very best behavior, you know, the kind reserved for visits to your parent’s friends who had lots of breakable things  or that one aunt whose home could pass a white glove test and who kept all of the children’s toys in the kitchen where the linoleum made for easier clean up. At Grandma’s we had to be on very good behavior. So squirting the lamp’s light bulbs with a squirt gun filled with cold water to watch them explode was definitely out (learned that one the hard way). Saying “please” and “thank you” and travelling the stairs and hallways at a walking rather than a running pace and cleaning up the messes that we made were definitely in as was washing our hands and not fighting with one another. Over the years we learned a lot about living into the expectations that Grandma had for us when we were in her house.

Our lives tend to be filled with places like grandma’s house – places that come with expectations, sometimes the same as other places, sometimes unique, don’t they? Where were you before you came to worship this morning? At your home? Do you have expectations for those in your home? I would imagine that many of you do. Perhaps you were at a friend’s home our out to breakfast. Wherever you were –  I imagine that there were explicit or implied expectations. Expectations are the reality of our lives and we choose to either live into those expectations and embody the behaviors that they point to or we choose not to and accept what consequences may come our way.

Now, in Christ Jesus the Kingdom of God has broken into the world. And this living into this Kingdom of which we are now a part is our reality:

Let me say that again: In Christ Jesus the Kingdom of God has broken into the world. And this living into this Kingdom of which we are now a part is our reality.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians:
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

And in Colossians we read:
He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin

In Christ Jesus the Kingdom of God has broken into the world. And this living into this Kingdom of which we are now a part is our reality.
Consistent with this truth about our new lives together in Christ our gospel today has three great surprises for us.

1.    We are part of the household of God.

2.    That others are also part of the household of God and that the presence of those others will challenge us in our understanding the fullness of God’s amazing grace and our understanding of how God sees people versus how we see people.

3.    Finally, that being a part of the household of God comes with expectations.

First year students at our seminaries are typically assigned to local parishes to shadow the pastor and earn about parish life. The parish that I was assigned to had been around for over a century and the town in which it was situated was beginning to grow as farmers sold their fields for new housing developments for people trying to escape the hustle and bustle of Baltimore.  One of the first things that I noticed about this parish was the number of children  in Sunday school, which was held primarily in the huge basement rooms under the main sanctuary. The preschool class, Kindergarten Cass and 1st Grade class had about 100 kids among them. What a sight every Sunday morning to see the kids gathered around an old piano as one of the teachers plunked out an old children’s hymn and to hear all of those voices singing together!  However, week after week I would go upstairs after Sunday school to assist with worship and could count the number of children in worship using only six fingers. Over one hundred  kids in Sunday school under the age of seven and only six of any age at worship. I needed to know why – so I asked the parents. And they me honestly that they felt that the children were not welcome at worship. That the attitudes of the people found there sent a clear message – the kids should be not seen upstairs in the sanctuary and definitely not heard.

 Another church, this one less than 100 miles from the other, responded to the need of its city to house a woman’s shelter in its vast basement that at the time stored lots of old junk – for some reasons churches just hate to throw out anything –  and I mean anything.   Well, it seemed simple enough – clean out the basement and let the city build and manage a shelter for woman who had not other pace to go – the basement of their sanctuary becoming a sanctuary for the battered and abused and homeless women and their children who had no other place to turn except the streets. The congregation was included as part of the conversation and a small group in the congregation raised alarm. What if, some said, those people wandered up the stairs from the basement that led to the back of our sanctuary during worship? Did we really want those people among us? Meaning what if they, God forbid, got out of the basement and came upstairs where, you now, we regular people  were trying to worship God?  


A third story  - this one courtesy of author Philip Yancey who writes about the church where he grew up at which a group from Alcoholic Anonymous met in the basement. There in the basement one could hear the singing from the worship, the beautiful music, and he remembers asking them if they ever had been upstairs for worship. And they said you, know, we are not supposed to go upstairs. We haven’t been invited.

In our gospel  people have been invited to a wedding banquet of a king and the host sends out a reminder as a courtesy. And the bearers of that reminder are mocked and mistreated and killed. The King wipes out those rude people, burning their cities to the ground and sends his servants  out into the streets to invite anyone and everyone that they meet to come to the banquet. And the servants do so – inviting the good and the bad – everyone.  And one of them comes to the banquet without a wedding robe on and he is punished severely. 

 In Christ Jesus the Kingdom of God has broken into the world. And this living into this Kingdom of which we are now a part is our reality.
This inappropriately dressed individual puts a jarring and some might say confusing end  to this parable of Jesus and purposely does so in order to invite us to some self-reflection  - to examine ourselves. Not what we are wearing, our clothes, our shoes, our jewelry, such things are not central to our relationship with God, but rather how we wear our new reality. Are we faithful in seeking to live into God’s expectations? Are we being faith, for example, into building up our congregation into a more deep and abiding reflection of God’s Kingdom?

 I know in my life I have experienced congregations that have struggled with this – making children not seen and heard as if they were second class citizens in God’s Kingdom. Places that have made people feel unwelcome because of what they wore, their economic status, their life choices  or their perceived sins or the color of their skin – you name it.  Instead of building up their congregations into a more deep and abiding reflection of God’s Kingdom they were much more concerned with maintain the status quo or worse, not offending anyone – worried more about the comfort of some rather than the Kingdom that God declared breaking into this world in and through Christ Jesus.
Our gospel today has three great surprises for us.

1.    We are part of the household of God.

2.    That others are also part of the household of God and that the presence of those others will challenge us in our understanding the fullness of God’s amazing grace and our understanding of how God sees people versus how we see people.

3.    Finally, that being a part of the household of God comes with expectations.


One of the worst things a congregation can do is to presume that they are wearing the proper wedding garment – this parable challenges us to reflect and humbles us to consider who isn’t here and why.

Who haven’t we invited to be with us and why?

Who have we set up barriers against or discouragements to being among us and why?

 May God look at us and see the diversity among us and say “Good work” -  but if my Son you see a vision of my Kingdom keep asking, keep inviting, keep build, keep loving, keep forgiving, keep striving, so that your community of faith might look like my household into which I have invited you. AMEN!








No comments: