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Sermon: "Working in the Vineyard of the Lord"

Sermon.09.27.20.Proper21A St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Exodus 17.1-7; Psalm 78.1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2.1-13; Matthew 21.23-32 We have recently focused on two parables: The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant and the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. Both parables reflect the immensity of God’s grace. In the second parable, the landowner asks those hired first who have grumbled about their pay, “Is your eye evil because I am good?” This parable serves to remind us that although we may be the recipients of God’s grace, we run the danger of begrudging others the grace they have received. As Ron Rolheiser put it, “This is the catch, we can have everything and enjoy noth

Sermon: "May We Not Be Anxious"

Sermon.09.20.20.Proper20A St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Exodus 16.2-15; Psalm 105.1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1.21-30; Matthew 20.1-16 Let us consider the context of today’s gospel reading at some length. Two weeks ago (in Matthew 18) Jesus was teaching the disciples how they should react when someone in the ekklesia (the church) sinned against them. We noted Jesus’ real concern was maintaining the sacredness of Christian community through reconciliation. The emphasis was on the method to be used in bringing one to the place where they would seek forgiveness. As noted last week, Peter then asked Jesus how many times he should forgive if another sinned against him – seven times?

Sermon: "What Debt! What Grace!"

Sermon.09.13.20. Proper19A St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Exodus 14.19-31; Psalm 114; Romans 14.1-12; Matthew 18.21-25 Last week’s gospel lesson from Matthew 18.15-20 dealt with the actions we should take to promote reconciliation when another member of the church sins against us. Jesus outlined a three-step process: 1) we are to privately discuss the matter with the person who sinned against us; 2) should this fail, we are to take one or two others who can confirm our attempt to reconcile; and 3) should this fail we are to take the matter to the church. If the offender refuses to listen to the advice of the church, she is to be treated as a Gentile or a tax collector, i.e.,

Sermon: "The Sacredness of Christian Community"

Sermon.09.06.20 St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Exodus 12.1-14; Psalm 149; Romans 13.8-14; Matthew 18.15-20 In today’s gospel reading, Matthew builds upon a text we considered two weeks ago. When Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus said, “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16.18-19; NRSV). Jesus is laying the foundation of the church. Today’s gospel passage begins: “If another member of the church sins against y

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