Titus 3:1-11 Remind your people ……. not to speak evil of anyone, but to be peaceful and friendly, and always to show a gentle attitude toward everyone. (3) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, and wrong. We were slaves to passions and pleasures of all kinds. We spent our lives in malice and envy; others hated us and we hated them. (4) But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour was revealed, (5) he saved us. It was not because of any good deeds that we ourselves had done, but because of his own mercy that he saved us, through the Holy Spirit, who gives us new birth and new life by washing us. (6) God poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly on us through Jesus Christ our Saviour, (7) so that by his grace we might be put right with God and come into possession of the eternal life we hope for. (8) This is a true saying. I want you to give special emphasis to these matters, so that those who believe in God may be concerned with giving their time to doing good deeds, which are good and useful for everyone. (9) But avoid stupid arguments, long lists of ancestors, quarrels, and fights about the Law. They are useless and worthless
Matthew 9:9-13 Jesus left that place, and as he walked along, he saw a tax collector, named Matthew, sitting in his office. He said to him, "Follow me." Matthew got up and followed him. (10) While Jesus was having a meal in Matthew's house, many tax collectors and other outcasts came and joined Jesus and his disciples at the table. (11) Some Pharisees saw this and asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with such people?" (12) Jesus heard them and answered, "People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. (13) Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: 'It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.' I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts."
May the Words of my mouth and thoughts of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen
There is a longing in
a wounded world for belonging
for over coming division.
In short we want to be loved
we want to know that someone cares
and when we know that, our health
mental emotional, spiritual doesn’t just change
And let’s face it
there is so much fear
so much division
so much so that we need communities of Grace like this.
Communities where when we become a part of, they
will reach out and include
And yes as we have learned what we eat is so important
and so is what eats us.
And the thing I’ve met so often in the church
is the need to be right!
I have the truth
and when you have it
then you’re on my side,
and we are the true Christians.
And as crazy as it is, we can easily slip into that kind of
And we can get our ecclesiastical – or church knickers into a real twist.
I call it, majoring in the minors.
And while we major in the minors,
people drowning in despair and meaninglessness are
getting lost and some are giving up.
There are debates over how baptism should take place and by whom and at what age;
over women’s leadership in the church.
There was even a debate in the medieval church about,
if a mouse ate communion bread crumbs, would it then be a member of the church.
Seriously important stuff.
And it seems we’ve always been like that.
That‘s why Pail writes and says avoid stupid arguments, and fights about how to
interpret the Bible. They are useless and worthless.
That’s a novel idea!
Then he writes: be concerned with giving your time to doing good deeds, which are
good and useful for everyone.
Debates cause division; good deeds, bring about hope and reconciliation– huge
benefits in many ways.
Here’s a good deed that involves relationships.
As I said at the beginning we crave belonging
we want to know we are cared for
And it’s not simply a mechanical kind of caring
it’s not just supplying a need.
You hear someone is hungry and you dropped them off a food parcel.
That’s kind and helpful, but it is not enough.
They are cold so you pay their power bill
that’s kind and helpful
but it’s not enough.
Neither fills the internal longing for home
An experiment allegedly carried out by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick IIin the 13th century saw newborn babies taken from their mothers and raised without human interaction in an attempt to determine if there was a natural language that they might demonstrate once their voices matured.
It is claimed he was seeking to discover what language they would speak naturally. The experiment was recorded: "foster-mothers and nurses were to suckle and bathe and wash the children, but in no ways to cuddle or speak with them; But, says the recorder of the experiment, he laboured in vain, for the children could not live without clapping of the hands, and gestures, and gladness of countenance, and words and cuddles.
It wasn’t enough to keep the babies warm and clean and fed –
they all died – for want of touch and intimacy.
I tell you this story
because it is apropos even to this day.
As humans, you and I, we have been created for
loving words and intimacy and touch.
We need to be embraced in safe and caring ways.
So what’s the good deed I want to speak of?
Picture Matthew in today’s reading sitting at his tax office
working for the Romans
hated by everyone as a collaborator.
Getting a cut from the taxes – becoming rich.
He has it all except maybe the love of people who care.
When people come to his office
he sees their disdain
and hate and probably returns in like.
The apostle Paul wrote: Before we knew Jesus, others hated us and we hated them.
So there is Matthew and he see this Rabbi approaching him
all other Rabbis would have avoided him
He is walking with his disciples
his safety zone where everyone is comfortable
and he leaves them
and walks across to Matthew’s tax office, the zone of the unknown.
Here’s the thing
when we leave our comfort zone
when we for the moment say to the group we are with,
excuse me for a minute,
and we walk across the room
to this other person
it can be scary, right?
What will I say
what will they do
especially if it’s a group.
It’s the unknown.
Will they like me
want to welcome me
want to talk to me
accept my invitation?
What if they say thanks, but no thanks!
And so Jesus, and this is the pure confidence and love
we see in the nature of Jesus,
doesn’t have these qualms that you and I might have.
Maybe what he sees is a lonely man?
Maybe what he sees is a man lost in so much anger
and Jesus heart goes out to him.
And says to Matthew – Follow me. And Matthew does.
He is saying
I want you to be my disciple and walk in my dust
and learn from me just how loved and special you are.
And about this God who loves you despite what these people say.
The actual Greek says:
“Come, have a coffee with me and the boys – we’d like you to join us.”
Right there in the Greek!
And Matthew saying, “Ahh I have a better idea
Come to my place
I do the best coffee in town!
Whatever, from that brief invitation, suddenly the word gets around
and Matthew’s house is full!
The Bible says: While Jesus was having a meal in Matthew's house, many tax collectors and other outcasts came and joined Jesus and his disciples at the table. Someone starts texting, and all of a sudden
everyone turns up!
That was one reaction – the other reaction was:
Some Pharisees saw this and asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with
Like they don’t even go to church!
I do this, Jesus is replying,
Maybe because they are lost
and maybe because
they need to know
that the pain in their lives is spiritual.
A pain from being away from their true home in God.
I eat with such people because they need to know they are loved.
So I walked across the room and said, Hi, my name is Jesus, join me!
You and I will find ourselves in such places and such times
and in some God moment
our gaze will be lifted away from the group we are with,
our cell phone, whatever
and that person will be there
and there will be an invitation to walk across the room
walk out of your comfort zone
to the zone of the unknown
and say – “Hi my name’s ….I saw you and wanted to say hi.”
Would you like to join me for a coffee.
Sure I know if your English
you can’t speak to another person before your introduced
but hey .. what’s the worst that can happen.
You know when a person comes to a church for the first time
they may have never been to a church before
or even if they have,
some statistic geeks have worked out how long they will wait for someone to say hello
before they exit. It’s a very short period of time
because nothing can hurt more than not being discovered
and welcomed when you so want to be.
This week there will be people who will hope that you will see them and walk across the room.
You will be a blessing and God will bless you.
Now unto God the Father, God the Son and God, the holy Spirit, be all the honour and
glory, world without end. Amen
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