Proper 21 (Sept 25 – Oct 1)
Texts: Philippians 2:1-13;
Matt. 21:23-32; Ez. 18
THE GOD OF THE LEAST AND LAST
- Pick up where we left off last week — Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
- More important than this week’s parable; especially the way it leads into the theme verses for this week in Philippians.
- Recap parable and where we left off last week — the question of God. Is he the owner of the vineyard? Surprising elements of this vineyard owner: relentless in recruiting workers, generous in paying his workers.
- But also different from God, the God we come to know in Jesus Christ. The all-day workers are still envious of this owner because he still has a lot more than them. Could have afforded to give them more. We’re the same, right?
- But Jesus gives us a huge hint with his ending: the first will be last and the last will be first.
- Jesus comes as the God who takes last place among us.
- Today’s second lesson is all about this God that Jesus shows us who takes last place among us.
- Envy and Rivalry as the basic elements of our sinfulness.
- Jesus comes into this world as one sinless, namely, as one who is not about envy and rivalry, despite being equal with God.
- In the Spirit, we are able to receive that same mind, that same attitude, that same way of being in the world.
- This is the love that created the world and continues to care for it. It is a love which creates instead of destroys. This is the love which you and I can have for each other and for God’s creation in Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit.
- Creative of relationship. That’s why Christians believe in the Trinity. Within the Godhead itself is this basic loving relationship which creates. Which reaches out beyond boundaries of normal human relationships and breaks down the barriers.
- Shows itself in service — our theme for the day
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- History day for St. Paul’s — German Lutheran heritage
- Nazi Germany both the best and worst of that German Lutheran heritage
- Worst: extreme racism, a closing in on itself of the German volk to make scapegoat of all others — violent, destruction of all other relationships — low moment for so many Lutheran Christians, who went along with it.
- Best: the kind of resistance which someone like Bonhoeffer showed, putting Christ at the center of that resistance.
- Project of translating his Works into English — 16 volumes in German; half done in English, 8 volumes
- Christology lectures, 1933 in Berlin, vol. 12; Phil. 2 at the heart of it
- Letters and papers from prison, vol. 8: Jesus Christ as “the man for others”; quote about church
- Life Together, vol. 5, quotes on pp. 98-101.
- Close with Eucharist, being fed for service
Paul J. Nuechterlein
St. Paul’s Lutheran, Milwaukee, WI,
September 25, 2005