September 10, 2023

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Exodus 12:1-14
    • Psalm 149
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Ezekiel 33:7-11
    • Psalm 119:33-40
  • Second reading
    • Romans 13:8-14
  • Gospel
    • Matthew 18:15-20

The alternate first reading from Ezekiel:
So, you mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.

Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?” Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Psalm 119
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.

Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.

Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain.

Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways.

Confirm to your servant your promise, which is for those who fear you.

Turn away the disgrace that I dread, for your ordinances are good.

See, I have longed for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life.

The second reading from Romans:
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.

Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The gospel from Matthew:
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.

Pastor Stevenson this summer has learned more about how the lectionaries are chosen. The psalms provide insight. There is richness in them. They fit a theme. Today’s Psalm 119 has sections numbered with Hebrew numerals. Verse 33 reads “Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end.” In the Old Testament reading we read “Oh wicked ones, you shall die.” This year in Joliet, Illinois, a church had been getting large financial gifts from one unidentified member. After 10 years, they found out that this member had used a Ponzi scheme to cheat investors, and the church owed back $417,000. It has left to pay $270,000 by November 15. If it is not paid the church building will likely be seized. Will the church survive? This is an example of a wicked member sinning against the others in our readings. In our second reading, Romans 13, Paul writes that law begins with the Ten Commandments and sums it up with “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Pastor Stevenson interprets these scripture readings further …………

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