SUNDAY REFLECTIONS

Each week The Reverend Richard Terrell reflects
upon the biblical reading
from The Common Worship Lectionary
that is used in local churches

SUNDAY 4th OCTOBER

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY
AFTER TRINITY

GOSPEL READING FOR THE SUNDAY – Proper 22
Matthew chapter 21, verses 33-46
The parable of the tenants in the vineyard

33 ‘Jesus said, ‘Listen to another parable.   There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower.   Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.   34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce.   35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.   36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way.   37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.”   38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.”   39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.   40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’   41They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’

42 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”?
43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.  44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.   46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

REFLECTION

In the Bible reading, from Matthew chapter 21, we hear the parable of the tenants in the vineyard – a story about the way the servants of a landowner were treated when they were sent to collect his share of the harvest from the tenants.

At the first attempt the servants were beaten, one was killed and the tenants refused to give over the landowner’s dues.   Then more servants were sent to collect the landowner’s dues but the same thing happened.   Finally the landowner sent his son in the belief that he would be respected.   But the tenants mistakenly thought that if they killed him they would gain his inheritance.

The story challenged Jesus’ listeners to consider what would happen and how the landowner would re-act.

It’s a story full of symbolic meaning.   The landowner represented God.   Then came people such as Noah, Moses, David, and the prophets appealing for people to recognise God’s care and calling them to turn away from their wicked ways.   But many would not listen.   God gave them chance after chance until finally He sent his Son.

On hearing the parable the chief priests and the Pharisees realised that Jesus was speaking about them.   They were ‘the builders’ who rejected the most important ‘stone’ in any building and that ‘stone’ was Jesus.   So they sought to arrest Him.   They realised they had sealed their own fate when they told Jesus that the landowner in the story would get rid those who rejected him.

The Kingdom, said Jesus, is for those who faithfully serve the landowner and obey God’s will.

PRAYER

Father God,
We thank you for sending us Jesus.   Help us to understand His teaching and to know that in following Him and living as He taught we are obeying your will and glorifying you, through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.

SUNDAY 11th OCTOBER

EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY
AFTER TRINITY

GOSPEL READING FOR THE SUNDAY – Proper 23
Matthew chapter 22, verses 1-14
The parable of the wedding feast

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.   3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.   4Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.”   5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them.   7The king was enraged.   He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.   8Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy.   9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.”   10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 ‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?”   And he was speechless.   13Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”   14For many are called, but few are chosen.’

REFLECTION

Have you ever planned a party and no one has showed up?   Well that was the parable Jesus told in Matthew chapter 22.

A king was giving a wedding banquet for his son but the guests declined the invitation for a whole variety of reasons and even maltreated and killed the messengers.    A reference, perhaps, to the way some people have responded to God’s invitation and treated his messengers down the ages.

He then sent his slaves onto the streets to invite everyone they could find and the wedding banquet was filled with guests.   But the story ends with one of the guests, who was unsuitably dressed, being thrown out.

Symbolically in the story God is represented as the king and Jesus is, of course, the Son.   The Invitations to become part of the eternal joy of heaven have been sent to all.   There are many people who refuse the invitation.   Some are pleased to accept it but fail to realise that their lives must be clothed appropriately and they must make an effort themselves to please the king.

PRAYER

Father God,
we thank you for inviting us to join you in your heavenly celebration.   May our lives always be clothed in a way that pleases you and may all accept your invitation made through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen

SUNDAY 18th OCTOBER

LUKE THE EVANGELIST

GOSPEL READING FOR THE SUNDAY
Luke chapter 10, verses 1-9
Jesus sends seventy out in pairs

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.   2He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.   3Go on your way.   See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.   4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.   5Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!”   6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.   7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid.   Do not move about from house to house.   8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”

REFLECTION

The reading from Luke chapter 10, appointed for the celebration of Saint Luke’s Day (18th October), records Jesus sending out His followers in pairs to go into every town and place ahead of Him.

They were told to take nothing with them – not even a purse, bag or sandals – and to greet no one on the road.   There was a sense of urgency and purpose about their mission.

It’s easy when there is a lot of ‘support’ to be distracted from the task in hand.   The transmission of the Good News of Jesus Christ is not dependent upon lots of ‘bells and whistles’ but upon a simple proclamation of the Word.

Later in the chapter, in verse 16, Jesus is recorded as saying, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Jesus wants you and me to go to share the good news that the kingdom of God is near.   The results do not depend upon us.   We should not become puffed up when people receive the message and we should not be discouraged when they reject it.   We should just go and tell.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,
we thank you for sending Jesus and for His message that the kingdom of God is near.   May we be inspired also to go out to proclaim that message in our words and deeds.   Through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen

SUNDAY 25th OCTOBER

BIBLE SUNDAY

GOSPEL READING FOR THE SUNDAY
Matthew chapter 24, verses 30-35
The Word of God lasts for ever

30Jesus said, “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” with power and great glory.   31And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

32 ”From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.   33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.   34Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.   35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

REFLECTION

The reading from Matthew chapter 24 records Jesus’ words about the end of time and a warning that just as we know from a fig tree when summer is near so there is a degree of inevitability about the coming of the Son of Man.

“Heaven and earth will pass away,” He says, “but my words will not pass away.”

The written word is more enduring than the spoken word but over time both the words and their authors are forgotten.   Words, generally speaking, are impermanent.   So it may be surprising for Jesus to make this claim about His words.

We live in a world that appears to be changing beyond all recognition.   We can recall very different childhood days and former generations have lived in a very different world.   But God’s Word, essentially, remains.   We need to appreciate the era and circumstances in which it was written to sometimes understand it to the full and apply it to our lives today.   But basically God’s Word stands the test of time.

When we fill our minds with His Word we prepare ourselves for every situation, now or in the future, in which we may possibly find ourselves on earth or in heaven.

The word of God and of his Son Jesus Christ is a precious treasure for every Christian.   No matter what others may think we must guard that Word by loving it and obeying it.   The world may change but the message is eternal.   As the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews reminded that group of Christians who faced increasing opposition and were in danger of abandoning the Christian faith: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever.’   (Hebrews 13:8)

PRAYER

Merciful God,
teach us to be faithful in change and uncertainty, that trusting in your word and obeying your will we may enter the unfailing joy of Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen

MARTIN’S MESSAGE

Martin the Money sometimes accompanies The Reverend Richard and helps to re-enforce the Gospel message. He usually attends on special occasions in the Church Year and shares his thoughts with you.

HARVEST THANKSGIVING

GOSPEL READING FOR YEAR A
Luke chapter 12, verses 16-30
The Rich Fool

16Then Jesus told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly.   17And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?”   18Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.   19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”   20But God said to him, “You fool!   This very night your life is being demanded of you.   And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”   21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’

22 He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.   23For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.   24Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.   Of how much more value are you than the birds!   25And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?  26If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?   27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.   28But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you — you of little faith!   29And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying.   30For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them.

MARTIN’S MESSAGE

Though I shouldn’t admit it, monkeys are greedy little animals and easy to catch.   You simply cut a small hole in a gourd, place some rice inside and wait for a monkey to trap his hand inside.   So don’t be greedy and selfish or you could make a monkey of yourself!

In the reading from Luke’s Gospel we were hearing about a man who was being a little greedy.   So Jesus said:  “Watch out and guard yourself from every kind of greed, because a person’s true life is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be.”

         The man was foolish because he did not think of God as the giver of all.   More importantly, he did not think beyond the present and to realise that in God’s eyes his wealth mattered little.   He may have been wealthy but, as Jesus says, he was not rich before God.   He may have had millions of pounds in the Bank but stood bankrupt before God.

         Well you may be thinking, of course, this doesn’t apply to me.   “I have no BUMPER CROP compared with what others have.   I am poor!”   Maybe this message is directed towards the rich people and the rest of us are off the hook.”

         But look around at the whole world and ask again whether we are ‘rich’ or ‘poor’.   Most of us would consider, I’m sure, that in the wider context we have plenty and sometimes we are the ones who want to keep everything for ourselves.

         Might it just be that you and I are in danger of being called ‘a fool’ by God?   Might it just be that like the rich man in the parable we are NOT rich before God?

         Reflecting on the Parable of The Rich Fool, as we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving we are reminded that WE mustn’t be like him.   We must not be self-centred or appear to care little for other people.   We must give thanks for all the many blessings that God has showered upon us.

         We were reminded how the ravens are fed; the lilies grow and something as simple as the grass under our feet are all provided and cared for by God and that like them we should be putting our faith and trust in Him.

         Jesus is telling you and me that we should not focus all our effort and attention upon increasing our riches on earth but in storing up our ‘treasure in heaven’.   If we do not learn the lesson from the Parable of The Rich Fool we may find ourselves being called ‘a fool’ by God.

         We mustn’t be greedy or we might get caught out trying to wrap our fist around all the perceived goodies of life.   If we’re not careful we shall find that we are making a monkey of ourselves!

PRAYER

Creator God,
you made the goodness of the land,
the riches of the sea
and the rhythm of the seasons;
as we thank you for the harvest,
may we cherish and respect
this planet and all who inhabit it,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.     Amen

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