June 25, 2017
Matthew 10:24-39
Romans 6:1b-11
Genesis 21:8-21
Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17


Do I Have to Invite Jesus Over for Thanksgiving?
Proper 7 | OT 12 | Pentecost 3


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Mary Austin
With our headlines full of news about violent attacks fueled by hatred and revenge -- both in Washington and in London -- we are again called to consider the family and tribal groups with which we identify, and how easy it is to hold vitriolic thoughts against others who we feel are in diametric opposition with our interests. As these horrific incidents demonstrate, some even feel compelled to take murderous action against people from those “other” groups. Jesus’ harsh words about the need to turn against family can be very difficult preaching fodder for modern congregations -- but as team member Mary Austin notes in the next installment of The Immediate Word, perhaps they make more sense in light of the aggressive way we separate ourselves from one another. The point Jesus is making, Mary suggests, is that we must be willing to turn away from our self-selected groups and embrace the unlimited love and membership of his Kingdom... even to the point of taking up the cross. Here’s a preview:


Do I Have to Invite Jesus Over for Thanksgiving?
by Mary Austin
Matthew 10:24-39; Genesis 21:8-21

Daytime talk shows, podcasts, and reality TV shows remind us every day that family drama is common, even normal. Advice columns are full of questions about where to place our loyalty.  What are our obligations to in-laws, stepchildren, and extended family? What about the troublesome family? The abusive family? None of these questions would have made any sense in Jesus’ day, where loyalty to family was a sacred obligation and duty to family was clear. Family strife may have been normal, but there was no option to check out of the family and find a new one. 

The question of who belongs comes at us constantly, in a world where we can select our own tribe. We can choose to live near people who share our economic status, work with people who share our values, and vacation with people who love the same places. We can eat with people who follow the same eating plan, and shop with people who share our taste. At the ballgame, we sit with people who have the same loyalties. Our news comes slanted to our particular taste. 

But Jesus pokes his way into our cocoon, raising the question of who belongs in a wider family of faith; and Abraham and Sarah, believing they’re following God’s plan, make a choice to exclude rather than include. So who belongs? Who gets to come over for a family dinner?...
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Immediate Word Team
(Click on photo
  for author's bio.)



George Reed


Mary Austin


Ronald H. Love


Dean Feldmeyer



Chris Keating


Robin Lostetter


Beth Herrinton-Hodge