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Missing the Party

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Matthew 22:1-16
(PARABLES - WEEK 3! Go here for Week 1 & Week 2)
Oh, you guys! We’ve got a doozie in front of us today! 
(If you are reading this and not listening in person - go read up above the scripture first. You kind of have to see it to believe it).
There is a gentle, G-rated version of this story, and it’s told in Luke. It doesn’t have any weeping, gnashing of teeth, bloodshed or vengeance.Instead it’s got Luke’s signature focus on the marginalized; Look! They got to go to the party! Not so for Matthew.Matthew goes for the rage, the garish violence, the action movie effects. You can almost hear the dissonant sound track. Pastor Lisa called Matthew’s parable the ‘Quinten Tarrantino” version.
But then, Matthew was written just after Jerusalem was burned to the ground and the temple was destroyed. The people would have listened to this story. It might have felt familiar.
And maybe it feels a little familiar to us too.Institutions are crumbling, the old way of doing things doesn’t se…

God is not fair

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Matthew 20:1-16
Parables Series - Week 2! (Here's Week 1 & Week 3)
Peter is so reliable at asking the things everyone else just thinks but is afraid to say outloud. He’s like an adorable, feisty kindergartner who predictably shoots up his hand and waves it frantically around, brow furrowed, biting his lip, at nearly every new thing the teacher says. You want to be annoyed with him, but he’s so darn sincere and trying so hard to get it right, that you can’t help but smile. Just like last time, today's parable is an answer to a question by Peter.  Yes, Peter? What is it?
What could Peter have asked to get Jesus to tell this story? What burning question compelled him? Just before this Jesus has just been approached by a very wealthy man, who asked him, What good deeds must I do to have eternal life?And Jesus answered, “Why do you ask me about what is good. There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” The man asked which ones, and Jesus lis…

Forgiveness and living

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Matthew 18:21-25

(Parable Series - Week 1. See Week 2 & Week 3)
When I was a kid, I was happily dragged around the country to different camps and church events, where my dad would speak to the grown ups and my mom would lead “creative dramatics” with the kids. Essentially, this meant acting out bible stories from a set of rhyming storybooks she brought along.  Today’s parable is one that I acted out so many times as a kid, with so many groups of strangers, that I can still remember the exact lines that once got me kicked out of the room.
My mother was reading along, doing the voices of the characters, and fifty children were sitting cross-legged and rapt. We were getting to my favorite part.I had surreptitiously positioned myself right next to her, almost facing the rest of the kids, and my heart was pounding wildly, as I worked up my courage for a surprise assist. The moment came, and she read, ”How much does he owe?” The king asked the treasurer, standing below, And lept up and I ro…