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STEVE html SERMON OCT 5 2008

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Oct 5 2008 Bothwell & Clachan


Series: “Jesus Wants Me to Do What?”

Message: “Life Imitates Art – Jesus Predicts His Future” Matthew 21:33-46

-     Communion



Election fever

As you are aware, we are in the midst of Federal Canadian Election. Last week the so-called election “fever” went up a notch as the TV debates were held.  Our neighbours In the U.S.A. are also in the midst of their election campaign, although much longer lasting than ours. And in the midst of this it we have a Sunday in which we will be celebrating Communion or The Lord’s Supper. Some of you may have come from traditions where the October Communion was referred to as World Wide Communion. Now, rest assured, I am not intending to wade into either Nation’s electoral races, except to say that I am very grateful that we are able as Canadian citizens, to have the freedom to cast a ballet.  Nor am I going to dwell on the “World Wide” part of Communion this morning. But I do hope that these words do help to focus our minds as we soon take part in this Celebration of Remembrance. Communion looks back to Good Friday and forward to that ultimate Easter Day when all will see Jesus as Lord of the Universe.


We Didn't Even Have a Horse

As strange as it might seem, I do have a story which does attempt to link both Elections and Communion. Huey Long was a very colorful Louisiana politician who had hopes of running for the presidency in 1936. He began as an unschooled farm boy and ended up in the governor's mansion, one of the most popular politicians in the history of the state. Long was born in the central part of Louisiana, and when he first campaigned for governor, he was given some advice about the voters in the New Orleans area. "South Louisiana is different from the northern part of the state," he was told. "We have a lot of Catholic voters down here."

Long nodded knowingly and went out to make his speech. It began, "When I was a boy, I'd get up at six every Sunday morning, hitch our old horse up to the buggy, and take my Catholic grandparents to mass. I'd bring them home and then take my Baptist grandparents to church."

The speech was a rousing success. Afterward, a New Orleans political boss said, "Huey, you've been holding out on us. We didn't know you had Catholic grandparents."

Huey looked at him slyly and said, "We didn't even have a horse."

Don't let anybody mislead you. Around the banquet table of God there won't be Baptists, or Catholics, or Methodists. There won't even be a head table reserved for the very saintly. There will only be sinners for whom Christ died. That includes you and me. Everyone is invited to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord and so be a part of it. That's the good news.[1]

But rather than accepting that free gift he offers, instead we often try instead squeeze God out; or rather, at the last minute try to squeeze him in.

Squeezing God In

In her novel A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley shows readers a highly dysfunctional family which nevertheless attended church each Sunday. Yet this is how the novel's narrator sums up this religious practice: "We came to church to pay our respects, not to give thanks." When faith becomes a compartment of life instead of life's vibrant center, when we're just stopping off to put in our time or pay our respects, squeezing God in between everything else that we clearly value much more highly, then (we) reveal ourselves as ill-clad impostors.[2]

But in our parable this morning the tenants didn’t even try do that. This parable from Matthew 21:33-46, actually predicts Jesus’ death. The tenants don’t even pretend to be paying their respects. Instead they are scheming to take over the farm.  They acted as if it was theirs by right. Do we try to do that in our relationship with God?

Childish Humanity

Stephen M. Crotts tells the story of the time his two young boys did much the same thing. He writes: Years ago, I caught my two pre-school-age sons in my Jeep. They had been told not to get in there. They could get hurt if it started to roll, but they were disobeying me. So I crept close by, they didn't see me, and I was able to hear their conversation. Bryan, my older at five, said, "David, we better get out of here! Daddy said for us not to get in here!" To which David replied, "It's not Daddy's Jeep, it's my Jeep!" That's when I stood up, and grinning, said to David, the wee three-year-old, "Oh, it's yours now, is it?" Startled, he jumped up and tried to push me away, yelling, "Go away! You can't come here!" In that childish outburst we have the character of humanity. History bears it out over and over again as God sends his "rent collectors" to the tenants to collect what is due, to remind them of who they are and who God is, and we treat them shamefully and send them away empty-handed. Isaiah was sawn in two. Jeremiah was stoned. Amos was murdered with a club. John the Baptizer was beheaded. And the Son sent from God? He was Jesus, and we celebrate the fact that we impaled him upon a cross outside the city near a garbage dump.[3]


Messengers from God

Edward F. Markquart, in The Wicked Servants writes that the prophets of God in our lives are not usually the paid preacher or TV evangelist or some famous preacher like Billy Graham. Rather, the messengers of God to us are usually much closer and nearer, like a wife, a husband, a child, a parent, a dear and close friend who have the willingness to be honest with us.

And deep down inside, we often want to silence the honesty of God's messenger to us. We are like the Pharisees in Jesus day.  The question is: how have you and I silenced the messengers of God to our lives?  How often do we refuse to listen to those local messengers from God in our lives?[4]

What will happen if we don't get the message?  Do we just assume that it won't matter? Do we try to overlook the fact that in this parable there was an eventual day of reckoning? Many in society that we deal with everyday seem to think that this is just a myth, or certainly something that they do not have to prepare for.

The Deadline Will Not Be Extended

It's like a tough, old cowhand who sauntered into a saloon and began drinking whiskey by the bottle. The more he drank, the more unruly he became, shooting holes in the ceiling and floor. Everybody was afraid to take on the old cowhand. Finally, the town's little, mild-mannered storekeeper walked up to the unruly cowhand and said, "I'll give you five minutes to get out of town." The old cowhand holstered his gun, pushed the whiskey bottle away, briskly walked out, got on his horse, and rode out of town. When he left, someone asked the storekeeper what he would have done if the unruly cowhand had refused to go. "I'd have extended the deadline," he said.[5]

          Today it seems that even many Christians have that concept of God, that if we miss a deadline, God will simply extend it. Are we taking the judgment of God seriously?

It appears that we have forgotten that God does have an end game plan for our world, as well as for ourselves.


Shall I Sound the Eviction Notice?  

There is a fable, which is NOT based on the Bible, about the Angel Gabriel who has just come from surveying the earth and its inhabitants when he reports to God. "Lord, it's my duty to inform you that you're the possessor of a choice piece of real estate known as planet earth. But the tenants you've leased it out to are destroying it. In another few years, it won't be fit to live in…They frequently kill one another, and all the prophets you've sent to them calling for an accounting have met with violence. By any rule of sound management, Lord, you've got but one option." Then raising his trumpet to his lips, Gabriel asked, "Shall I sound the eviction notice now, sir?"

And God said, "No, Gabriel! No, not just yet. I know you are right, but I keep thinking if I just give them a little more time they'll quit acting like they own the place!"[6]

It is true that the Bible says that God is delaying his judgment that others may choose to believe, but it also warns that it will be a short reprieve. Peter wrote this in the Bible: 

2 Peter 3:8-15a (The Message)

Don't overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. 9God isn't late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn't want anyone lost. He's giving everyone space and time to change.

10But when the Day of God's Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.

11Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? 12Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day— 13but we'll hardly notice. We'll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.

14So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace. 15Interpret our Master's patient restraint for what it is: salvation…

This morning during our Communion Service, please listen closely this morning to the words written by Paul when he reminds us that we are doing this: “until he comes again.”  Are we living everyday in anticipation of our lord’s Return?

I trust that you will also want to be in Jesus’ welcoming choir that day singing something like our closing hymn,  “Crown Him With Many Crowns” We will sing verses 1-2 now as the Deacons prepare this Table for us. It is found at Hymn #62.


[1] King Duncan, Collected Sermons,

Scott Hoezee, Everything Is Ready


[3] Stephen M. Crotts / George L. Murphy, Sermons for Sundays: After Pentecost (Middle Third): The Incomparable Christ, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.

[4] Edward F. Markquart, The Wicked Servants

[5] King Duncan, Collected Sermons,

[6] Stephen M. Crotts / George L. Murphy, Sermons for Sundays: After Pentecost (Middle Third): The Incomparable Christ, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.

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