… Mrs. Jane Barnett will lead us in Morning Prayer October 27.
… Father Riley will return for the first 3 Sundays in November and we will celebrate All Saints Day November 3rd. Forms to list names of ones you wish remembered are available in the church and will be distributed again as needed Oct 27. Please return the forms by Oct 27th. You may also email your list of names to:
Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cecil at email@example.com
… Heads Up! Daylight Savings Time ends November 3rd. Turn your clocks back one hour, sleep late, or get to church too early.
… It’s is time for our annual giving campaign. Pledge letters and cards will be mailed out soon. And, our Episcopal church’s national Annual Appeal has begun. Please check out their website at:
… The Rt. Rev. Bishop Jacob “Jake” W. Owensby will visit us on Sunday, December 8th to celebrate with us. A pot-luck luncheon is planned for all to attend. More news later.
19 PENTECOST, PROPER XXIV - C - 19 LUKE 18.1-8
There are very few things that I care about watching on TV these days, and a lot more that I do not care about watching at all. One of those is Judge Judy. One time was enough for me. In her courtroom, there are no attorneys present, only the defendant and the plaintiff, and a TV audience.
The judge is sole ruler who finds in favor of either the defendant or the plaintiff at the end of hearing the case. Thus, it was in ancient Jewish law courts, all cases were brought before the judge.
If someone had stolen from you, you had to bring a charge against them; you could not go to the police to do it for you. If someone had murdered a relative of yours, the same would be true. Therefore, every legal case in Jesus’ day was a matter of a judge deciding to vindicate one party or the other. His decision was final.
In today’s gospel passage, Luke gives us yet another of Jesus’ parables this one has to do with faith, prayer, and the true nature of God. There was a widow; Jesus told them that had been wronged. She did what the law required. She took her case to the local judge. She wanted justice.
However, at first the judge refused to hear her complaint. Never the less she persisted. She was relentless in her pursuit of justice. The judge got tired of her pestering him about her case, so he relented, and granted her justice simply in order to get rid of her.
The point in Jesus’ telling this parable is made perfectly clear. He contrasts the unjust judge who feared neither God nor man with the true justice of God. “…And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them.”
Christ concludes the parable by contrasting the persistence of the widow in her asking with that of our faith and asks whether he will find such faith when He comes again. That is a good question.
The idea of persistence runs through all three of today’s readings as well as the collect. In today’s first lesson, Jacob wrestled with God. He was persistent in his request for a blessing and was not willing to give up the match until his request was granted him.
The one he wrestled with blessed him and changed his name from Jacob to
Don’t quit, Paul tells him, do not give up, rather “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed…be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable…endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.”
The question is can we hold out? We must be persistent in prayer, in making our requests known to God and in seeking His grace to endure the present time. Faith is the requisite for persistent prayer. We can liken the widow’s persistence in her asking of the judge to vindicate her to our prayer life, as Jesus did at the conclusion of the gospel reading this morning.
She did not despair. She kept on until her request was granted, as did Jacob in his wrestling with God. What does it mean that God is longsuffering? He watches triumphant evil and yet in the eyes of some, he does not act. However, scripture teaches us otherwise.
He waits, either until the occasion is ripe, or to give the offender time to repent. God’s ways are not our ways. He does not always respond on our timetable. Wrongs are not easily righted. How long, then, must we ask? How long did Jacob wrestle with God before he received God’s blessing?
The promise that God will act to vindicate the elect was understood by the early church to be fulfilled in the events at the conclusion of the gospel itself. Moreover, the response of God to the wrongs of the world, the injustices, the evil, and the inhumanity to man was given at the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus once and for all.
If it were not for our persisting in our faith and belief that Jesus died and rose again, we could easily look at the world around us and say, there is no justice, no real justice. If there were, God would act to rectify and vindicate all who are oppressed, all who are suffering, and all who are in need. Our faith is always on trial.
When I feel like God is not listening to my prayers or is not paying attention to what is going on in the world around us, I look to the cross, not the empty cross, but one which has the dying body of Jesus nailed to it. There is not a room in my house that does not contain a crucifix.
I need to remind myself that there is nothing in this life that I can or will go though that compares to what He went through so that I might have life and have it more abundantly. The crucifix reminds me of that.
We must not despair. We must remain persistent in our prayers for those in need, for the world in which we live, for steadfastness in our faith and belief that God will act. So that when Jesus comes again he will find in us that kind of Faith is he looking for.
We gather together each week at God’s altar to remember that God has acted in response to all of our human suffering and need. We hear His promise in the readings from Holy Scripture. We share in His promise of new life in the sacrament of Christ’ Body and Blood.
When I hold His Body in my hand and take the cup that contains His most precious Blood to my lips, I do so in Faith, in the knowledge and belief that God’s promise is real, even when it does not appear to be effective in the world today.
The blessing of God in the midst of our fear is the resurrection. One might say that is a bold statement to make, especially in the face of so much that is wrong with and in our world today.
However, the ground for our boldness is this: by the merits of Christ’ death and resurrection we have been given the means of grace to persevere in our faith and the hope of glory that when He shall come again, he may find in us a mansion prepared for Himself. AMEN+