the view from the pew 10-2-16

Definition of lectionary: a book or list of readings for the church year.

You don’t have to go to church very long to know that sometime during service someone is going to read from the Bible. But not until you’ve been attending for at least three years do you notice “Hmm, have I heard these verses before?”. You probably have. Most churches in America follow a three year rotation of Scripture readings. I am sure there are several good reasons for this but I imagine one of them is to make it easier for church goers, especially those who travel, to visit different churches knowing there is some similarity between their’s and the one out of town. This year we are in Year ‘C’ of the rotation. The Gospel reading for this past weekend throughout America was Luke 17:1-10. Every weekly reading includes passages from the Old Testament, a Psalm or a New Testament letter, and a lesson from one of the four Gospels.

Maybe you think Christian leaders were thinking too much when they got together to discuss weighty issues such as the validity of scripture or how to shorten The Athanasian Creed, and all they came up with is a weekly reading list. Note that nearly all church leaders were at one time pastors of a congregation. A pastor’s job can be pretty tough so it’s likely that when the lectionary was put together it might have been set up to give pastors a break when coming up with sermon ideas. Pastors can pick from one of the three readings on which to base their lessons. The Bible is full of endless possibilities from which to preach. The lectionary helps a pastor pinpoint his focus for any upcoming service.

I’m not certain but I think Pastor’s eyes widened when he saw that this week’s Gospel reading was about The Attitude of a Servant. To him I’m sure it was like a hanging curve ball ready to be knocked out of the sanctuary.

Luke 17:7-10

“Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?

Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’?

Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?

So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

Pastor might even have had this lesson in his hip pocket waiting for the right time to use it. In short, Jesus says that we, as Christians, shouldn’t make a big deal about treating people with love and compassion, helping them carry their yokes or standing up to evil even if the outcome seems in doubt. These are all the things Jesus did and He never boasted about any of it. If we are like Him then we ought never lay claim to our deeds. No number of good works helps us get to Heaven. It’s not a payment, it’s a gift from God. This is meant to calm your fears about being worthy enough to get in Heaven. Because you aren’t. Jesus will carry you through the eye of the needle. Case closed.

What else happened at 10:45 service on Sunday? The soundboard man was abducted again leaving me in charge of of the remote control. My head was a little foggy that early in the morning but I managed to keep up with everything. But don’t thank me because if you do, I won’t accept your accolade. I was doing my job. We had communion with The Lord, which is nice. You know what? Everything was nice.

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