October 8, 2017

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is darkness let me bring light and where there is sadness joy.

The Prayer of Saint Francis is quite a contrast to the unimaginable night mare that took place this week.

Yet with all that has happened to shatter the innocence of simplicity, like going to an outdoor concert, we’re gathered together today as a united and empathetic family of faith.

Like any family, we may have our preferences and differences, but all that is so trivial especially when the question WHY, WHY, WHY resonates in our homes, communities, and country.
As of yet we don’t know what motivated a man with enormous financial security and seemingly not a care in the world, to sink into the poverty of evil.

We may never know WHY, but by the grace of God and our openness to the Holy Spirit, the WHY can be transformed into How.

Perhaps we should consider changing the lyrics to “Make Me Channel of Your Peace” and replace them with, how can I be a channel of your peace? How can I bring light to darkness? How can I bring joy to sadness?

The Gospel lesson for today actually mirrors the events of this past week in that the landowner deserved to reap the fruit from his vineyard and the concert goers had the right to return to their family, friends, and pets, but one man’s submission to evil destroyed the hopes and dreams of 58 people and imposed PTSD on to the survivors.

Watching the horror and hearing the stories of the individuals who kept vigil with the dying or transported others to a hospital proved that the human spirit can overlook differences in race, gender, and age in the midst of chaos……. but why does it take bullets and bloodshed, hurricanes and earthquakes to bring out the best in people?

On the other hand, tragedies and violence could paralyze people with fear…… Whether one is jumping into the fire to help another get out of it……… or one is running from the fire to get away from it, fear and bravery stand apart without Christ.

Jesus is the only one who can take the weak wall of our faith…… and connect it to the ever present wall of grace… by being a cornerstone.

As most of you know a cornerstone is the stone at the corner of two walls and unites them. It was the visible corner and first step for building a foundation of all that would be built above it.
The stone’s value far exceeded the other stones and its strength couldn’t be measured.

Simply put, Jesus is the foundation for our faith. Without Jesus as the cornerstone we are disconnected from God and from one another.

In Second Peter we hear, “So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, the stone rejected by the builder has become the cornerstone.”

Although Christ was to be the sanctuary for Israel and Judah, those who rejected him would stumble in unbelief unless they repented and came to believe in Him.

Saint Paul’s second letter to the Ephesians declares what it means for us to be cemented so to speak to Christ our cornerstone.

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

Yes, Jesus is our cornerstone but who is Jesus in reference to this parable?
Scripture Scholar Ira Brent Driggers believes that Jesus is the Son who came to reclaim what rightfully belongs to his Father.
He is the Son whose mission is violently rejected by the Father’s own tenants, the chief priests and elders.
He is the Son whose rejection is vindicated by the Father and he is the Son whose vindication prompts the final judgment of the unfaithful chief priests and scribes.
Jesus point seems to be that his opponents have mistaken their leadership over Israel…… for outright ownership of Israel.
All that they recognize is that Jesus claimed to be God’s Son.
The parable shows how the temple leaders have been entrusted by God and how they have rebelled against God.
They get the parable, but they reject its truth.
They basically said, yes we are God’s tenants, but we are not those tenants; and you are certainly not God’s Son.

Unfortunately they focused on what they thought Jesus was going to take from them (authority) instead of what Jesus could give to them. (eternal life.)
Placing your trust in God over your own agenda may be a terrifying task, but allow the power of the Holy Spirit to lead you into the vine yard of faith.
Because, it is there and only there, that you will receive the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

And don’t you think it’s time for all the people of God to experience more love , joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control, and gentleness?
The vineyard is ready! Which one of those fruits will you be picking today?