Proper 21 (26), Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 25, 2011: Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Psalm 25:1-9; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

Exodus 17:1-7: “From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarreled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?’ 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ 4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ 5 The LORD said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

7 He called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, ‘Is the LORD among us or not?”

Matthew 21:23-32: “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?’

24 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. 25 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?” 26 But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ 27 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.

28 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” 29 He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. 31 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. 32 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.

Proper 21 (26), Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost Comment: Leadership has its privileges and pitfalls. The elders accompanied Moses to see God provide water in the wilderness. They were privileged, as first hand witnesses, to spread the news of God’s miraculous wonder.

The elders with Jesus had the privilege of knowing how to read and to teach this Exodus account, so that those in their care would come to ‘see’ and believe and grow in relationship with the God of Moses.

The pitfall is that the privilege gone wrong can cause blindness to our spiritual eyes.

Let the Spirit of Autumn-Change bring Extraordinary ‘sight’, in Ordinary Time. Amen
Rev. Julia
© September 23, 2011

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