Sermon - September 10, 2023 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Sermon – September 10, 2023

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 18
Year A
September 10, 2023

First Reading: Exodus 12: 1-14
Psalm 149
Second Reading: Romans 13:8-14
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-2


Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Why Are We Here?

Paul’s letter to the Romans, will show us that living a Christ like life, that the Love will be our motivation to keep all of God’s commandments by loving our neighbors like we love ourselves. 

There will always be some folks that feel they are better then others, that they know more or they can do no wrong. 

There are many times, that anger, hurt feelings and the lack of communication will drive us toward either sweeping everything under the rug to keep the peace, or it can lead to, one mistake that people make, is they are too quick to judge, the knee jerk reaction, I call it. 

It is always better to step back from a situation and think about whatever it is that is bothering you, before reacting. 

This is where you can run into conflicts, leading to the possibility of a verbal argument, resulting in hurtful feelings. 

I know that we cannot always avoid it, but we should be in the mind set as disciples of Christ always, Paul, says let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is our Christian obligation to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, Love…itself never hurts.

 If we keep the commandments of Moses, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; fore one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” The commandments are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 18:15-20

The lesson today was one I had to give great thought and attention too. 

What do I say to our congregation about this? 

Are you a Gentile or a tax collector?

In this reading, Jesus is giving instructions about how to handle conflicts with each other. How to handle church discipline. This passage gives us clear practical steps we should take in a difficult situation, letting Jesus provide us another way in our gospel lesson today.

I feel most of you will agree that if only conflicts in every aspect of our lives, could be handled between each other with open communication and respect for each other, we all would live in a better and different world. 

Chapter 18:20, Jesus says, “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” 

Most of Jesus’s followers would have related this to the Old Testament passage, in Deuteronomy 19:15-19 says that two or three witnesses must agree in order to bring a legally binding charge against someone.

But we need to relook at the gospels and particular Matthew. Right before this passage in 

(Matt 18:15-17) are Jesus’s warnings about being a stumbling block for anyone. 

Next is the parable of the shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to search for the one lost sheep

Right after that Jesus tells Peter we are to forgive members of the church seventy-seven times.

And then Jesus tells the parable of the slave who is forgiven by his master but refuses to forgive his debtors.

There are lots of passages about the importance of forgiveness and these lessons on forgiveness, help us understand our lesson today.

How did Jesus treat the tax collectors, He treated them over and over with compassion, teaching his followers, that everyone can be forgiven for their sins.

His words were “let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. It does not mean wash our hands of them. It means, we need to continue to be visible witness of God’s steadfast love for everyone.

As it turns out, it is a very important lesson for us. There is no church without a conflict, how we handle such a conflict is to follow his instructions “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

We can lose ourselves from our pride and the self-absorption to be right all the time.

Learn to forgive, to understand and to bind ourselves together with the unbreakable love of Christ, and to follow his example.

Remembering the Ten Commandments, that Love will be our motivation to keep all of God’s commandments by loving our neighbors like we love ourselves. 

The Reverend Lola Culbreath