Sunday, September 3, 2017

Kingdom of Paradox Sept. 3, 2017


We come to a defining point in our series, Walking With Jesus.  Following Jesus as he goes about sharing God’s love, we have wrestled with his teaching in parables, we have seen more deeply into the miracles that attend his ministry.  Today, he forthrightly proclaims that God’s ways are not the world’s ways; that the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox in relation to the ways of the world.

╬ “My Kingdom is not of this world!”

Jesus is careful to differentiate the “kingdom” he comes to proclaim – the rule and reign of God – from the principalities and powers of the world.  The truth is, this “kingdom of heaven operates very differently from the way the world operates.  The values and priorities of life in this kingdom are different.  The definitions of power and success, of who is first and who is last in this kingdom, are not of this world.  Living in this kingdom, in the midst of the world, leads us straight into paradox … the truth that lies in contradiction.

The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below.

Blessings all,

- Pr. Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY ---------------------------

Lord, teach us to order our lives according to your will.  Teach us your way of defining and valuing our lives, the lives of others and the world around us.  Teach us to live as Kingdom people in the midst of empire.  Amen.

READINGS --------------------------------------

First Reading:  Jeremiah 15:15-21

15 O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me, and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.  In your forbearance do not take me away; know that on your account I suffer insult.  16 Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.  17 I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation.  18 Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?  Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail.  19 Therefore thus says the Lord:  If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me.  If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth.  It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them.  20 And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord.  21 I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

Psalm 26:1-8

1 Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
2 Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and mind.
3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you.
4 I do not sit with the worthless, nor do I consort with hypocrites;
5 I hate the company of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence, and go around your altar, O Lord,
7 singing aloud a song of thanksgiving, and telling all your wondrous deeds.
8 O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell, and the place where your glory abides.

Second Reading:  Romans 12:9-21

9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.  14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Gospel:  Matthew 16:21-28

21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." 23 But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."  24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?  27 "For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."