Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 10, 2017, Proper 18, Year A

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Exodus 12:1-14)

Nine plagues having failed to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites, Yahweh tells Moses to prepare for one more: the death of all the firstborn males. Each Israelite household is to slaughter a lamb and smear the blood on the outside of its doorway to alert the angel of death to pass over it. The occasion will be the beginning of their new year and will be celebrated by reenacting this unique meal.

Psalm (149)

Calling upon the people to render joyful and melodic praise to their Maker and their King, the Psalmist reminds them that Yahweh takes pleasure in them, giving victory to the humble. At the same time they are to be ready to execute judgment on the nations at his bidding and for their glory.

Second Reading (Romans 13:8-14)

Like Jesus, St. Paul asserts the truth that to love one’s neighbour as oneself is to fulfill the law. He then points out that his readers’ ultimate salvation is nearer now than ever and they must wake up and live in its light, not giving themselves over to the debaucheries of the flesh. In other words, they must put on the Lord Jesus Christ and resist any inclinations to live contrary to him.

Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20)

Jesus gives specific directions on what to do if a fellow Christian sins against us. His stress is on winning the person back into the fellowship rather than on asserting our own rights. They need to be confronted with their sin within a widening circle of witnesses. Decisions made in this way, even to the point of ex-communication, have the awesome weight of heaven behind them.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The importance of dealing with sin through repentance and change
  • The deadly seriousness of sin
  • The importance of loving one another
  • God’s intentions, even in discipline, are for our good
  • New beginnings with God are possible
  • Bad news can be good news

Based on the Alternative Set of Readings

First Reading (Ezekiel 33:7-11)

Yahweh appoints Ezekiel as a watchman for the Israelites. He is to deliver Yahweh’s dire warnings to abandon their wicked ways or die in their sins. This is a heavy responsibility because unless he delivers the message he will share in the same fate. He is to tell them that while Yahweh does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, he delights in seeing real repentance that leads to a changed life.

Psalm (119:33-40)

The Psalmist, appreciating that living as Yahweh demands is truly the way of life, expresses his desire to know, understand, and delight in the law. He realizes that to follow it faithfully he needs Yahweh to turn his heart away from wickedness of all kinds and grant him life.

Second Reading (Romans 13:8-14)

Like Jesus, St. Paul asserts the truth that to love one’s neighbour as oneself is to fulfill the law. He then points out that his readers’ ultimate salvation is nearer now than ever and they must wake up and live in its light, not giving themselves over to the debaucheries of the flesh. In other words, they must put on the Lord Jesus Christ and resist any inclinations to live contrary to him.

Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20)

Jesus gives specific directions on what to do if a fellow Christian sins against us. His stress is on winning the person back into the fellowship rather than on asserting our own rights. They need to be confronted with their sin within a widening circle of witnesses. Decisions made in this way, even to the point of ex-communication, have the awesome weight of heaven behind them.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The ways of God are the ways of life
  • The importance of dealing with sin through repentance and change
  • The deadly seriousness of sin
  • The importance of loving one another
  • God’s intentions, even in discipline, are for our good
  • Bad news can be good news

 

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