(Continuing to present both Tracks of the Lectionary)
In this week’s gospel, Jesus reminds his followers that “the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. Miriam-Webster defines cornerstone as “a basic element”, in other words, the fundamental component. The lesson from Exodus presents the “Ten Injunctions” (aka commandments)—a foundational element of our faith. From Isaiah, we learn of God’s great love for his people—another fundamental element. In Philippians, Paul reminds us to strive for the prize of salvation. And the rest of the gospel warns that God can simply offer “the prize” to others, if his chosen do not bear fruit. Thus, the cornerstone for us is Jesus, the injunctions, God’s love for us, our work for the prize, and bearing fruit. What’s your foundation like?
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. . . Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? . . .
From sermon4kids.com: “The great news is we have a Savior in Jesus who loves us even when our lives are messy. When we trust Him as Savior, He is our help and gives us strength to obey His laws. Let’s ask God to help us obey Him.”
Scripture: October 4, 2020—Isaiah 5:1-7 (image); Psalm 80:7-14 (image); Philippians 3:4b-14 (image); and Matthew 21:33-46 (image). Illuminating the scripture, an image and audio journey. Track 1 lesson and psalm are Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 (image) and Psalm 19 (image). From the editor: Click on “image” following each appointed scripture for an illumination of that passage.
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: Study the parable of the Landowner and the Vineyard. What are the “fruits of the kingdom” to which Jesus alludes in Matthew 21:43? How does your life bear fruit for God’s realm? What do you contribute to the harvest of God that Jesus describes? [from Feasting on the Word Worship Companion]
Saint Focus: It is easy to see the name “Francis of Assisi” and idealistic images of this highly regarded saint arise in one’s head. You know, pictures of birds, flowers, gardens, deer—of course with the “Pastoral Symphony” wafting across the images. Sadly, that’s not all there is/was to this Francis. He rejected the wealth of his father and adopted poverty and service. Francis and his early companions adopted Jesus’ charge to take nothing with them. And they met “real dirt, rags, cold, and hunger, and lepers with real pus oozing from their sores and a real danger of infection.” Be sure to follow the link below as it gives a little more detail, including Francis walking on fire.
This week, the saints under consideration were:
- 10/1; [Therese of Lisieux], Monastic, 1898; AND Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, c. 530
- 3; [John Raleigh Mott], Ecumenist & Missionary, 1955
- 4; Francis of Assisi, Friar, 1226
- 6; William Tyndale & Miles Coverdale, Translators of the Bible, 1536, 1568
- 7; [Birgitta of Sweden], Mystic and Prophetic Witness, 1373; AND Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Pastor, 1787
Image retrieved September 24, 2020. Original source: https://transactioncommons.com/the-cornerstone-of-an-efficient-transaction/.
Contemporary Parables: “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” (2005)—female freedom fighter in Nazi Germany, the story of “The White Rose”; “The Encounter” (2010), 5 people stranded together with salvation close at hand; “To save a life” (2009), young man must sacrifice dreams to save others
: Instead of looking at the parable, consider Paul’s words from Philippians 3:4b-14. Paul had all the right credentials, the cool connections, and the proper pedigree. Once Christ encountered him, however, he gave up everything that had held meaning for him and turned his eyes toward Jesus. Instead of Mr. Cool, Paul became a holy fool in the eyes of the world. He turned from striving for power and prestige to pressing on toward the prize of eternal life. What does “. . . press on toward the goal for the prize . . .” mean to you? What are the challenges? What are the rewards? How and where do you find strength to press on? (excerpted from “Cultivate a harvest of grace and gratitude” from the Stewardship of Life website)
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In today’s liturgy, we have a parable warning us as God’s people to be faithful to God, lest God turn away from us. This parable may have been a simple story about the need to seize the opportunity God holds out. Matthew has taken images, especially from today’s Old Testament reading, and allegorized the original story to make a point which the Church in his day needed to hear and which we need to hear today.
Track 1. For months, we have been reading the history of the establishment of God’s people, beginning with Abraham and Sarah. It has led us to the Exodus from Egypt. Today the journey through the wilderness has come to Mount Sinai. Here God establishes the law by which his people are to live in the giving of the Ten Commandments.
Track 2. The first reading is Isaiah’s “Song of the Vineyard.” Here the prophet starts with a simple song about agriculture but turns it around into a warning to the leaders and the people of Israel in his day.
Paul calls on the church in Philippi to hold fast to their faith and practice. We are not to be anxious about anything, rather we should expend our energy reaching out to be the kind of people God calls us to be. For we are citizens of heaven, Paul tells us, and we are destined for glory.
God’s people need the warnings of the prophets and of Jesus to balance our knowledge that we have been redeemed. While God’s action of redeeming us is set and established, we must nevertheless live the lives of redeemed people. Our weekly gatherings in Eucharist are not meant to lull us into complacency but to strengthen us and equip us to follow the Way of Christ.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.