Mt. 21:28-32 (MSG)
South Presbyterian Church’s Fellowship of Faith – October 1, 2017
Peacemaking / World Communion Sunday – Welcoming New Members
The Reverend Deborah Fae Swift
Matthew 21:28-32 (MSG)
“Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.’ “The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went. “The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went. “Which of the two sons did what the father asked?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said, “Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.
Here ends our reading for today. This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Y’know, I had a whole different sermon prepared for this morning until about 10:30 last night when I realized the message today is really quite simple:
Jesus is asking us how we want to live our lives: as yes men (and women) who say yes to God, to being men and women of faith … to being Christ’s ambassadors in the world … people who follow the Prince of Peace … saying what we know we SHOULD say or what God WANTS us to say but then never DOING those things …
Or do we want to be people who, even though we might argue and negotiate … we might complain and rebel … in the final analysis, we DO do what God wants us to.
Of course we all want to be the latter, even though at times we have all been the former, I suspect.
But there’s a THIRD way … and those are the people who say what they mean and mean what they say.
THOSE are the people who will grow and change …
Those are the people who admit when they’re wrong …
And those are the ones who are trying to live as JESUS did because that is EXACTLY who he was.
Around the world today we are INUNDATED by people who say what they think other people want to HEAR. And sometimes I think we even talk OURSELVES into believing something because we talk ourselves into it. (But that’s a topic for another day.)
TODAY we are celebrating communion – the Lord’s Supper – with brothers and sisters all around the world. Christians in Palestine … Christians in Iraq and Iran … Christians in South and Central America … Christians in Vatican City … in India and Pakistan … ALL will be celebrating COMMUNION – that holy meal and sacrament – with the Prince of Peace. And they will be hearing his words in their own language … maybe with explosions and gunfire as a backdrop. We don’t know.
But we know that on THIS day we are all called to support each other and to recognize our ONENESS with each other through Jesus Christ and the things he taught about personal integrity … about caring for others … about working for reconciliation in the world.
And in honor of THAT … we will have our newest pastor joining me in celebrating that meal.
And THEN we will be taking in new members … people who feel CALLED … led … inspired … to be with us on the journey. People who God has led to Fellowship of Faith so THEY don’t have to be alone and WE don’t have to be alone … so we can all work together for the glory of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Now, when we ask them the membership questions, are they going to say what they think we want to HEAR?
No. I don’t think so. Like the second son in our reading, they are here to DO the will of God … to follow God’s direction in their lives. And so THEY are going to be modeling the third way that I talked about. The way of Integrity. They’re going to say what they mean and mean what they say.
And so are we.
When we come to this table today … praying to become peacemakers for the Kingdom of God … when we say that we want to be more like Jesus … when we pray “Thy will be done” more than MY will be done … we are walking the third way — we are walking JESUS’ Way.
It’s like we talked about yesterday at the ordination … it’s been an 11 year journey for Katrina to become Pastor Katrina. It has not always been easy.
It has not always been easy for our group here, Fellowship of Faith, to stand its ground … remember when there was a little mix-up in the Meadows administration and we weren’t sure if we would be able to continue here?
It wasn’t always easy to adopt a new way of doing ministry.
It’s not easy all the time for New Life right now to figure out how to do their programs without the building that they’ve had for 120 years …
It take COMMITMENT to live with integrity … to mean what you say and say what you mean.
But that’s what Jesus calls us to do.
And when we DO that, we bring with us a sense of INNER PEACE … and that, my friends is what ripples out into the Universe creating peace everywhere we go. We become Peace Warriors as we follow Jesus on his Third Way.
And isn’t that what we want more than anything? To follow in his Way and be someone for him to be proud of?
Let us pray:
Jesus, you are Emmanuel, God with us … you are the Prince of Peace … you are the Source of all that we hold dear. Help us to be all that you would have us be. Put us where you want us, and show us what to do as we work to bring peace to your war-torn and violence-filled world, we ask in your holy name. Amen.