From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 24th Sunday after Pentecost

Hi everyone,

So it’s hard to make any 3 clicks on the internet these days without landing on something about the US election. I spoke briefly about it yesterday in my sermon, and a LOT of my colleagues and friends are only posting about it on social media. And I get it, it’s a big thing. But similar to what I was talking about yesterday, it was so much about who won, but the polarization that has come out of it. Not just a polarization that we see in the people, but even the media seems to have taken sides and continue to drive further their own agenda.

That is, if you already believe that to be true.

What I found mostly, is that regardless of what the actions of those they are for or against are, like literally they can do ANYTHING and it would only act as reinforcement of what they already believe. What I mean is, it seems like the people I see posting stuff online cannot be persuaded from their already established rhetoric of both whom they support and don’t, and everything those individuals do and don’t do are interpreted to support that already establish rhetoric.

And I’ve learned in my early psychology courses that it is a logical fallacy to think that way.

But it’s hard to be free from that, especially when we’re talking about things that people believe so strongly in. The concern that I have with this is that these “self-fulfilling prophecies” will only continue to drive a wedge people people, and unity can never be achieved. As long as we blame the other for our problems, we can never be unified. As long as we blame the other for our actions, we can never achieve peace. As long as we blame the other for the state of the world (or in this case, politics), we can never accept the other as also a beloved child of God.

But before we get too theological, here are the readings for next week:
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Psalm 90:1-12
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30

So this is one of those parables, like last week’s, that are really hard to interpret. We don’t like them because they seem to portray God as judgemental, unfair, and harsh. We don’t like talking about God’s judgement, especially when it seems to be directed at us. We don’t like the term “weeping and gnashing of teeth” because it sounds really unpleasant.

We don’t like thinking that the third guy in the story really deserved his punishment, because we might see ourselves doing the same thing he did. That is, play it safe with things that don’t belong to us. What responsible person would play with someone else’s money? I know I wouldn’t, especially if I found them to be harsh and the kind of person to reap where they didn’t sow.

But the thing is it sounds like this third servant wildly misread his boss. As we see how he treated the other two, he actually sounds like a pretty good guy. Generous (in entrusting them with copious amounts of money), trusting (in entrusting… you know), and kind (in not even getting mad when they played with that money). Well, a good guy until he deals with the third guy’s laziness and… well… fear.

Enter the weeping and gnashing of teeth. We see why that third servant sees the master as harsh now, because he ends up to be. Or did he? Or did the third servant actually give a “self-fulfilling prophecy” and interprets his master’s actions as harsh regardless of what happens? Perhaps his banishment wasn’t from his master, but from himself because he couldn’t see past his own fears and already established rhetoric.

See, this guy got it all wrong. We can see that now. My question for us now is, how can we have gotten things wrong? In what ways do our paradigms, fears, and established rhetoric skew reality for us? I’m not saying that everything we think or believe is false, but I’m saying that perhaps there is something. Something that needs to be looked at. Something that needs to be rethought. Something that needs to be entrusted to God to change for the better.

This is a strange world we’re living in. A world that isn’t as black and white as we once knew. A world that is inundated with bits of information from a multitude of reliable and unreliable sources. A world in which needs us to continue to be encouraging to each other and building each other up, rather than discouraging and tearing each other down.

May God’s peace and wisdom be upon us all as we continue interpreting world events and what they mean for us.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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