Sermon: September 28, 2008

20 10 2008

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

 

                                                Matthew 21:23–32

 

 

 

            Remember the story about how Jesus drives the money-changers out of the Temple?  The story is told that one day Jesus and His disciples entered the Temple Grounds in Jerusalem and when they entered they saw all of these merchants who had set up business.  Some were selling various animals that the visitors could offer as sacrifices to God.  Some were there to exchange money for the coins that people needed to make their offerings to the Temple.  Others were probably there selling souvenirs for visitors to take back home of their visit to the Temple during the time of Passover.  You can just imagine the sights and the sounds and the smells.  All of this so angered Jesus.  He thought that the purpose for the existence of the Temple was to provide a quiet place where people could gather and worship God – pray to God – offer their sacrifices to God.  All of this business stuff was creating so much noise and so much distraction that none of that could happen.  So what did Jesus do?  He made a whip and drove these business people out of the Temple.

            Well, you can just imagine how word spread quickly of what was going on in the Temple.  There is this mad man knocking over tables – throwing people out of the Temple.  So some of those in charge came running and when they found Jesus they said to Him – “What do you think you are doing?” – “Who gave you the right to kick these people out.” – “We are the ones in charge here, and we told them that they could set up shop.” – “What gives you the right?”

            So in our lesson for this morning Jesus tells them that He will answer their question if they answer His.  And He tells them the story about two brothers.  Both of them are asked if they will go out and work in the father’s vineyard.  The first says that he is must too busy – no he will not go out.  But then later he changes his mind and goes out and works.  The second tells his father that he will go out and work in the vineyard but then doesn’t.  Which of these two brothers was a true son of the father?

            Do you get the point?  Jesus is talking about them.  They are the brother who says that they will go out and work in the field but then doesn’t.  They are the ones to whom God first came.  They were the Jews.  They were the chosen ones.  They were the children of Abraham.  They were the ones who were led out of Egypt by Moses.  And these folks to whom Jesus was talking.  They were the pastors.  They were the leaders of the church.  They were the ones who were to lead people to God.  Instead they saw the church as a business.  They were looking for ways to make money.  They had forgotten the reason for which they existed.  The reason for which the church existed.  To worship and praise the Lord.  And to lead others to God.  In short, they forgot that the reason for which the church exists is to “Be Disciples.  Make Disciples.”  Does that have a familiar ring to it?  Oh, yeah, that’s right.  That’s Our Mission Statement.  That’s the reason for which we say that we exist..  We exist to worship the Lord our God.  We exist to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our mind.  We exist to serve God with all every breath that we take – with every thought that we think – with every action that we take – as a church – as individuals – as families.  How are we doing?

            The other day I was sitting in my office working when I heard somebody come into the church office.  I overheard the conversation between Chris and this young man.  Basically he wanted to know if he could rent the warehouse.  Of course, Chris pulled out the fee schedules for renting the warehouse, and she asked him if he was a member of the church.  He, of course, responded, “Yes.”  And, I guess, on some level he was correct.  His name still appears on our mailing list.  But I don’t think that this person has been to this church in the last fifteen years.  What does it mean to be church?

            To be church means to be the people of God who have been called out to worship the Lord our God with all of our heart – with all of our soul – with all of our mind.  To be church means to be the people of God who come together to worship the Lord our God with every breath that we take – with every action we take – with every thought that we think.  To be disciples means that everything that we do and everything that we are is an act of worship.  What we do here in this place on a Sunday, but also what we do out there on a Monday.  All of our life is to be an act of worship.  Worship is not an option.  Worship is not what we do when there is nothing else going on.  This is who we are.  This is what it means to be children of God.  This is what it means to be a member of a church.  This is what it means to BE A DISCIPLE.

            And then that impacts everything else that we do.  We bring our children to Sunday School because that is what worshiping Christians do.  We attend Bible Classes and Prayer Groups because that is what worshiping Christians do.  We make Prayer Shawls and we help at DZ@6 because that is what worshiping Christians do.  We give of ourselves in lives of service because that is what worshiping Christians do.  We live by a certain ethical and moral code at work – at home – at play.  Because that is what worshiping Christians do.  We take seriously our commitments to family – parents – children – spouses – because that is what worshiping Christians do.

            Being a worshiping Child of God is not what we do.  It is who we are.  Through the Gospel Lesson for this morning, Jesus asks us which brother are we?

 

Amen!

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