Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bishop's Note: Collect for the Week of Pentecost 15 - Proper 20

Bishop Eric Menees

“Grant us, O Lord, not to mind earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to cleave to those that shall abide; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

I am reading - for about the 9th time - the book The Purpose Driven Life, by Pastor Rick Warren. This book begins with one of the best first lines of a book that I can remember (short of "In the beginning..."): "IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU." The book speaks to the primary issue of the difference between being Earthly-minded and Kingdom-minded. Earthly-minded thinking centers on the self, and Kingdom-minded thinking centers on our Triune God!

This week’s collect speaks to the same issue. In it, we petition the Lord to grant us the ability to keep our eyes fixed on Christ and not on the things of this world. This, of course, is nothing new; scripture is full of the call for this kind of single-mindedness. A couple of weeks ago we read: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)  

This week's Gospel lesson - the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard - addresses this same issue. On the surface, this is a story about different laborers who are called to work in the vineyard at different times of the day, thus working for different amounts of time. This difference in time is not the main issue - the issue is the laborers’ expectations of "fairness" or "justice." The first laborers agreed with the Master of the House for a denarius for a day’s labor (the normal pay). Thus, when they see the other laborers coming on to work, their expectation is that: a) they will either be better rewarded than the new laborers, or b) that the newer laborers will be paid less.

This is Earthly-minded thinking: that justice depends on our being equal to, or better than, those around us. And yet Jesus tells the mother of James and John that: "...whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.(Matthew 20:26-28 ESV)

A Kingdom-minded way of thinking places our importance - our needs and wants - second to those of the Lord, and we demonstrate that by serving others. My prayer for you, and my prayer for me, is that the Lord will indeed grant us - at all times and in all places - a Kingdom-minded way of thinking. And to that I say...AMEN!

Catechism Questions 16-18

16. What does God grant in saving you?
God grants me reconciliation with him (2 Corinthians 5:17-18), forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14), adoption into his family (Galatians 4:5-7), citizenship in his kingdom (Ephesians 2:19-21, Philippians 3:20), union with him in Christ (Romans 6:3- 5), new life in the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-5), and the promise of eternal life (John 3:16).

17. What does God desire to accomplish in your life in Christ?
God desires to transform me into the image of Jesus Christ my Lord, by the power of his
Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

18. How does God transform you?

He will transform me over time through corporate and private worship, prayer, and Bible reading; fellowship with Gods people; pursuit of holiness of life; witness toward those who do not know Christ; and acts of love toward all. The first Christians set this pattern as they devoted themselves to the apostlesteaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers(Acts 2:42).

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