Sermon Notes for October 23, 2011

19th Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 25, Year A)

Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Matthew 22:34-46


  • From many parts of my county, you can look up at the tallest mountain and know you are looking at Mt. Pisgah. People in our part of the world use lots of Biblical names.  From the top of Mt. Pisgah in Haywood County, NC, you can see for hundreds of miles on a clear day, and you can imagine a little of what it was like for Moses to hear that “all of this” was promised to your ancestors, and now it is going to your descendants.   The passing of Moses is a real touching seen in the Hebrew Scriptures.  We know that God promised Moses earlier that he would never be able to pass into the Promised Land, but he gets a glimpse.  (Note the parallels of Martin Luther King, Jr. getting a glimpse from the mountain top.)  Can you have a better description for your last days?  Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated.  
  • I also like this epitaph: Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
  • The selections from Psalm 90 are an excellent mourning song. You can see their influence in the Services of Death and Resurrection used in the Episcopal and United Methodist Church.  We mourn the loss of Moses in the first reading, but we celebrate his life…and the heritage he gave Israel and all of her descendants for years to come.
  • The Epistle is a touching reading.  Paul and his companions do care for the congregations that they have ministered to.  In the midst of suffering and opposition, they can continue to share the Gospel. The closing verses are very telling: But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. Is this not the way of the preacher of the 21st century?  We are called to gentleness and care, like a nurse caring for our own children. We are to share the Gospel, but also our selves.  The proclamation of the Gospel is to be embodied as well as spoken by the preacher.
  • Jesus is asked by a Lawyer (a Pharisee): “Which is the greatest commandment?” He answers with the wisdom of a Rabbi.  He knows his Bible and he knows that the teachers of his day would have no qualms (see the alternate OT Lesson for the day-Leviticus 19:1-2,15-18)
  • But Jesus being who he is, he answers one question with a couple of others:  “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” The Pharisees are left speechless, in fact it reads this way: No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. In other words, Jesus may be a great Rabbi, but Matthew claims, he is more.
  • Some good commentary at Christian Century- Christ Jesus it is he
  • This an excellent commentary from Dan Clendenin-Journey with Jesus: Humanizing Holiness

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