The Feast of Christ the King today is the final Sunday of the Christian year: Advent begins next Sunday. This is also my last day of association with Saint Matthew’s Church in Sand Springs, my last day of service as priest here, my last Mass. I am entering full retirement from active ministry. So this is a time of endings and also anticipation of new beginnings. Today we speak of Christ as our King, one who rules in our hearts and lives. That would have been a strange image for first century followers, for whom kings were all-powerful personages whose focus was on building personalRead More →

In today’s Gospel reading, a man plans an extensive voyage abroad. This is long before there was an Edward D. Jones on every corner. So he turns to his servants. To one he commits five talents, to another two, and the third, one. Now the talent was a lot of money, literally years worth of income for the average worker, so these are big investments. In the Master’s absence, the first two double the money, while the third servant is afraid and buries the talent. When the man returns after many years, he praises the first two and invites them to rejoice with him, butRead More →

The homily for today’s Mass is being given by the Reverend Canon Eric Cooter, so I do not have a sermon to blog today. Father Cooter is Canon (assistant) to our new bishop, The Right Reverend Poulson Reed. I know you will enjoy his message today; access it on You Tube from 10:45 CST. Locate us under stmatthews.sandsprings on that media outlet. Blessings!Read More →

Today we celebrate all the saints of God: those of who, like all Christians, are called to be holy, as well as those Saints of the calendar remembered as exceptional examples of holiness and held up as Christian models and our heavenly prayer partners. In our sacred languages, the words for holy or saint are instructive, and I will submit that each shows a different shade of what we are called to be. The Latin sanctus indicates being called out and separated, being a cut above. The Hebrew kadosh implies doing what is right. And the Greek agios, suggests a vision of health, wholeness, andRead More →

Our readings direct our attention to the question of our legacy, what we receive from the past and pass on to future generations. In today’s reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, at the end of his life Moses goes to the top of Mount Pisgah to glimpse the future. He has been withal a faithful servant leader to a difficult, willful people — not perfect, but he has pleased God. What he has received from God over a lifetime he has imparted with great integrity to the people. As his spirit departs the earth, the text even has our anthropomorphic God buries Moses. The Psalmist todayRead More →

The series of encounters among Jesus and his detractors continues today, but now with a twist. First, they take the offensive, hoping to silence Jesus before they lose credibility with the people. Second, this is an alliance of strange bedfellows. The principal detractors are the Pharisees, who were patriotic and puritanical — the anointed protectors of the Law. They were what we would now call Bible literalists, keeping the letter of Torah at the expense of its spirit, not unlike today’s religious fundamentalists or those jurists calling themselves constitutional originalists. Joining Pharisees for this episode are Herodians, who are Jews who have sold out toRead More →

Today we have yet another parable from the Matthaean community. In the story proper, a king is giving a wedding banquet for his son. Those whom he chooses to invite make excuses for not attending. They have things to do at home, or have to get to the office, or whatever. When challenged, they inexplicably turn violent towards the king’s royal servants; and he, in turn retaliates, sending out troops to level their city! Then the king instructs his servants to go out and invite everyone they can find to attend the banquet. Clearly we are reading about God’s invitation to enter the Kingdom —Read More →

In today’s Gospel reading, the religious establishment again challenge the authority by which Jesus ministers. He responds with a story, in which a landowner sets up a vineyard, leases it to tenants, and goes abroad. When he sends out his servants at harvest time to collect his produce, the tenants injure and kill them. Sending a second, larger deputation for the purpose results in the same. Finally, in desperation he sends his son and the wicked tenants execute that heir. The chief priests and entourage naturally have to admit that the faithless tenant deserve ultimate punishment. Jesus is citing and metaphorically applying Isaiah’s depiction ofRead More →

In today’s gospel pericope, the Jewish religious leaders ask Jesus by what authority he exercises his ministry. What would have triggered such a devastating question from these establishment figures? Well, a quick look backwards in the Matthaean text gives us a likely answer: the event we usually call the “cleansing of the Temple.” If you remember, Jesus there trashes the business district of the Temple, where the lower classes are conned, and whips the capitalists. The religious elites of the time want to keep their personal wealth and influence, maintain the status quo, and preserve the Roman peace. So troublemaker Jesus with his anti-imperial valuesRead More →

In today’s gospel pericope, Jesus puts paid to all our notions about work and reward. He reverses a basic principle of our culture and economy. A wealthy vintner hires workmen all throughout the day, but at the end he pays exactly the same wage to all. And the story is, of course, not about the workmen but about the lavish generosity of the Owner, representing God, who loves all his children deeply and unconditionally, gives us all far more than we deserve, and does not recognize our notions of worth. He confers worth. Equality is a fundamental principle, and is necessarily a counter-cultural characteristic, ofRead More →