Year A – Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Romans 13:8-14 Matthew 18:1-20
Community Lutheran Church, Sterling, VA – September 10, 2017
Last year I was enjoying sabbatical: a time to step away after years of ministry, to reconnect with family and interview my faith mentors. It was also time to be close to my father after mom’s death. I made a lot of trips to PA to be with dad in a Nursing home: for good talks, to share meals, pay his bills, and, truth be told, we had a few disagreements too. Those four hour trips to PA and back, doing my best with dad wore me out. There were times I lost my patience with him but I wouldn’t trade it for anything since his death. I would do it all over again just to be with him. My folks weren’t perfect but they loved and raised us well, baptized us and gave us access to God and a family much greater than our own.
It got me thinking about all the commitments you and I have as family members, parents and children. Think about your responsibilities at work and communities where you live. And then as citizens of this country, commonwealth: the laws we obey, the rights to which we are entitled and the reasons we pay taxes. Not to mention this church and Body of Christ. How do we respond to all our callings?
This was Paul’s concern as he wrote to the small Christian church in Rome. In a world distinguished by Roman citizens and all other conquered nations, tribes and religions, it must have been amazing to hear Paul proclaim, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we are justified by grace as a gift by through Jesus Christ.” The church in Rome wondered how to keep faith in a pagan culture. In Romans 13 Paul encourages them: obey your rulers, pay taxes and be good citizens because governments preserve order. And more than that, Paul speaks a word of grace and encouragement: “Owe no one anything except to love one another; the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love is the fulfilling of the law.” And then Paul gives a wake-up call: “You know what time it is to wake from sleep for salvation is nearer to us now…” A wise man said, “the best preparation for dying is Godly living.” “Time to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Because of our Baptism into Christ, it’s not about us, it’s about living like Jesus. Luther said, Because of God’s grace and mercy to us, a Christian is a perfectly free Lord of all subject to none. And because we have peace with God a Christian is a dutiful servant of all.
Two things kept me going with my dad: Time: the knowledge I was not going to have him forever. And God’s forgiveness: whatever conflicts came between us, God’s love and grace helped us to forgive and keep loving. What time is it for you and all the obligations for which you are responsible? How are you being called to love beyond yourself? What holds you back? How are you being called to not be afraid when things aren’t easy?
What time is it for Community Lutheran? What kind of community do we want to be? How are we being called to love the world which is different and sometimes scary? How do we encourage each other?
Because God so loved the world….We are not afraid to serve and grow in faith. Because we are Community Lutheran we believe in Welcoming, Growing and Sharing Christ’s love beyond ourselves: through Community kids, sharing with Mar Thoma, healing for Loudoun Veterans and school children in Rwanda. Today we reach out in friendship and love to Meadowland School and Herman Mizzell and thank them for their Godly work in teaching children. Who knows where else God may lead us?
The ELCA slogan is “God’s work, Our hands.” So take a hand and consider how God is calling you in your family, work and community Take a hand, fill it out, make a commitment to do one thing here at CLC: Teach our children and youth, sing in the choir, join the Luther 500th Class, come to Wednesday Supper. Let’s join hands, keep faith and grow this church while. Let us worship, celebrate God’s love for all the callings of our lives.
John Wesley said it and I believe it. “We love because God loved us. Do all the good you can, by all the means you can. In all the ways you can, in all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you can.” “We are not called to do great things, as much as we are called to do ordinary things with great love.” Amen.