Are We Open To Transformation?

Sunday, October 1, 2017
After Pentecost
Proper 21
Year A

New Testament Philippians 2:1–13
Gospel Matthew 21:23–32

Click here for the audio only version.


Make sure you read or listen to Last Weeks sermon, to tie this to this one.
Keep in mind, the text below was a guide for the sermon.  There is much more in the audio and video versions.

Like much of what Jesus teaches, He teaches us about transformation.  The be transformation to be transformed by Jesus through the Holy Spirit, is what we are called to do.

Are we willing to be transformed or are we trying to take control, to manipulate our lives?

First, how to deal with conflict, then forgiveness, last are first.  Jesus cleanses the temple and then is asked by the leaders what Jesus’ authority is.  They are unwilling to hear that it is God.  They are the old guard and their way is being challenged.    The leaders, are the first yet, now they will be the last.  They have missed the point all along.  The Jews have a covenant with God.  It is the ones who have fallen away from the law, that need Jesus.  It is the sinners (All of us) that need.  The law was given but it is not fully followed.  We come back to Jesus and his yoke is light and we follow.

Again, they ways of Jesus, turn the worldview upside down.  It upsets the order of balance, then and now.  The religious leaders shown in the text, felt challenged.  They were challenged by John and now Jesus.  The change John brought of repentance and forgiveness did not fit their mold.

Jesus’ change,  of Loving one another as He first loved us and that Jesus is the forgiveness for us.

Are you and I resistant to change?

Are you and I resistant to change in the way we worship?

Are you and I resistant to change in who we welcome to worship?

To often we are resistance to change, to being transformed.

What is Jesus asking of us?

Those of us that want change, tend to, at the same time, so easily ridicule these keepers of the religious establishment.

Being called by God to bring about change in a community can be dangerous.  Look at John and look at Jesus.  Look at all the apostles.  Of the twelve, John is the only one believed to have died of natural causes.

The question of authority is paramount for the religious leaders, and it may be so for many of us as well, as we look at our own attitudes toward others within our faith communities.

How often do older members become upset when newer and younger members begin to take on leadership responsibilities?

What happens when new ideas are presented and acted upon? What happens when something in the Sunday liturgy or worship service is changed or furniture is moved?

It is not difficult to put ourselves into the scene so that it becomes real for us today.

Sometimes we act like the religious leaders did towards John, Jesus and the apostles.  Other times we act as the sinners, tax collectors, the ones who come last and the ones that do as we are told…..eventually.

I heard from one person that “others” do not like the idea of sermon series.  The anonymous way this was presented, can be a way of being resistant to change.  To keep things as they were, vs allowing the Spirit to work for the kingdom of God.

Here is what I will say.  If there is a sermon series and someone might feel lost by missing a week.  Then come each week.  Each sermon is posted on our website, so you can catch up.  If you don’t have internet access, let me know and I will make arrangements for you to see or read the sermon.

By the way, our Revised Common Lectionary, if you did not know how we get our readings each week is one way of leading the congregation in learning.  There are multiple lectionaries available.

The ELCA recognizes two of those lectionaries and both were put together in such a way, that they weave a series of ideas together.  In other words, Sermon Series.

Change is not always change, it is a matter of how we want to interpret the “Change”.

We all have backgrounds, that color what we hear and see.  The religious leaders did also, when they questioned Jesus.  They may not have been aware of their “Stuff” that colored what they observed.

Are you and I aware of our “Stuff” that gets in the way of hearing God’s Word?  Are we aware of our “Stuff” that prevents us from allowing the Holy Spirit, from transforming us?

The Holy Spirit is active.  God keeps coming to us.  God wants us to change.

We can be the ones that are spoken to and come to our senses and stop sinning against the other.

We can be the one that is forgiven seventy times seven and finally respond to God.

We too can be the last, and thus the first.  It is not just the other, but us too.

We too can change our ways and instead of saying we will respond to God…… actually respond to God.

It is not to late to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and respond to new ideas, be part of change so we can walk with our brothers and sisters into heaven.  But also so we can be part of the heavenly realm that has broken through to the hear and now.

Transformation or are we still trying to manipulate our lives?

May each of you be open to the Word of God.  May each of us be able to respond to God, in all that God wants us to be and do.

May each of us give up control to God and be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.