Joy for the Sinner Who Repents

Who do you identify with in the story of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)? Are you the one who worked all day or the one who signed on at the 11th hour? There is a temptation to become prideful about our own obedience to Christ, this pride often comes with looking down on others. Pride can also lead to anger when we think we are not being properly recognized for our achievements.
This parable is begun and ended with the same phrase. “The last will be first, and the first last.”

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Anger and Forgiveness

To many people anger would be the only possible response to hard situations. It would seem just and right to retaliate against the man/woman who had caused so much suffering in a person’s life. Many people would think that he/she would feel more empowered to reject the person who hurt them and yet today we hear in our scriptures that true freedom exists with forgiveness. How can something that seems to be such an opposite of how we naturally feel and respond give us freedom? How come so many of us in this world feel such anger and rage on a daily basis?

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Avoiding Enmity

People don’t handle conflict well. Either they take the passive, rumor based approach, or the aggressive argumentative approach. Both end in pain and broken relationships. Jesus provides a better way in our Gospel passage this morning.

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Who Do You Say That I Am?

“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked his disciples this question in the Gospel passage that we read today, and it is still one of the most important questions in life, one you need to have an answer to. Listen to hear what it means that Jesus is the Christ.

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Crumbs for Dogs

In the Gospel today, we see Jesus and his disciples trying to get some much-needed rest, and a gentile woman, persistently begs Jesus to heal her daughter. How would Jesus respond? At first, he ignores her, and then he calls her a “dog,” a derogatory term used by the Jews of Jesus’ day to talk about the gentiles. This is the kind of response a Canaanite woman might have expected from a Jew. This isn’t the kind of response we would expect from Jesus! Even though Jesus’ silence and later his response seem rude, perhaps we can detect a “twinkle in his eye.” Especially when we remember how he commends her faith later in the story!

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Walking on the Water

In the scriptures we find Jesus like so many parents who are weary from the work of just living life seeing the disciples and knowing they need help. He leaves the quietness of communion with the Father to enter the raging sea and to rescue or reassure them of his presence and care. The boat had gotten far from shore and despite the fact that they were professional fishermen they were unable to control the boat due to the high winds and blinding darkness. Jesus sees them floundering and comes to them walking on the water.
How does God want to come into your life and help stabilize you? How could the creator of the heavens and the Earth change your life for the good? He longs to love you, provide for you, and give you a life filled with single minded focus.

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The End of the Sidewalk

In my neighborhood, there is a sidewalk that ends abruptly. Sometimes the events of our life feel a bit like this sidewalk, leaving us unsure of where to go next. When we get anxious about our present circumstances, we develop a feeble memory for God’s blessings in the past.

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The Kingdom of Heaven is Like

But what, exactly, is the Kingdom of Heaven? How would you answer that question? How would Jesus’ disciples have answered that question? Jesus is a King, but not the kind of king that people expected him to be. One day, Jesus sat down by the sea with a crowd of people to tell them about the Kingdom of Heaven, and he taught them using the parables we read today.

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Pulling Weeds

If you have ever planted a garden, you know what it is like to pull weeds. Weeds are relentless, and there are always more of them. Imagine, however, if someone intentionally sprinkled weed seeds into your garden! What would you do? How would you respond?

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