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"From the Pulpit" - September 9, 2023

"From the Pulpit" - reflections on the weekly texts, from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church in Vero Beach, FL

Matthew 18:15-20

[Jesus said to the disciples:] 15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, 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. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Our gospel for Sunday, PLUS this from our middle reading:

Romans 13:8-14 8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. 11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (I added the highlights) The Gospel According to Dolly Parton

Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the LORD Jesus Christ.

Dolly Parton? What? If you've ever had the pleasure of seeing Dolly Parton in concert, as I have, you'll notice something when you look around at the crowds who attend her concerts. They're a microcosm of our world. The bearded bikers next to the gay couple. Democrats and Republicans. Rich and poor. White, black, and every other beautiful color of humanity God created, all in one concert venue. Thousands, no, tens of thousands of people. All different. And for almost three hours, guess what they're NOT doing. Yelling at one another. Hating one another. Vilifying one another. What they ARE doing is singing together. Singing her amazing songs about love, about overcoming adversity, about our common humanity. About the emotions that we all, as humans, share. And you'll see these people singing together, crying together, laughing together, and more.

Now, this is not an endorsement of Dolly Parton's music, although I love the stories she tells through here music. It touches your soul on some level. But this is to say that when groups or individuals who hate one another by day, come together in small or larger settings, Jesus promises to be there. And there is almost a "third way", where we lose our hatred for one another, and see our common humanity. And it's a beautiful thing. I'm tearing up now as i write this, remembering that concert, the people, and how everyone sort of dropped their "day job" of hating, of reviling, of shouting,

I'll say more about all of this tomorrow, but in the meantime look closely at the two texts above and see if you can see where this Dolly Parton image might apply. [Hint: think two or more gathered together...and more.]

"Wonderful Words of Life" hymn


1. Remembering 9/11. Tomorrow during our prayers, we'll take a moment in silence to reflect on the events of 9/11, and how our lives, and the lives of so many people were forever affected. I know for many of us, it's still very raw. But I also think of how many people living now have no recollection of those events because they were young, or not even born then.

2. God's Work, Our Hands Sunday - Tomorrow after worship, Dr. Dave Wallace, I, and others will take the food that you've made, bought, whatever, to the Fire Department right down the street from the church. They're expecting this. We do this to give thanks for their presence in our community, and for their service to us all.

3. Grandparents' Day - Tomorrow is also Grandparents' Day. Bring your grandkids, your greats, and more. We'll have a little musical offering just for them as a part of worship. Bring them to the communion rail to receive Holy Communion or a blessing. Let's fill the church with some young voices tomorrow (and every Sunday!)

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