Paul, an extremely righteous man under the law, observed all the commandments. His outrage with the people claiming that Messiah had come led him to persecute them.
But then something happened that turned all these achievements to rubbish. The sabbath “attendance pins” and the prescribed daily prayer routine came to seem outdated, useless.
It’s risky, this throwing out everything from a past life. Every time I clean out my closet, I stall over the sweater Grandma gave me or my favorite old jeans.
What’s wrong with keeping these things another year? I wonder. There is really nothing wrong with Paul’s life; the world could benefit from more righteous people. Why does he turn away from his old life? Does he find it empty, unfulfilling?
No. This is simply my attempt to explain Paul’s actions out of my own needs. Paul saw nothing wrong with his life. He just met Jesus, that’s all. And after he meets Jesus, nothing is ever the same again. “The value of knowing Christ Jesus”—his voice soaring now—“surpasses everything.”
Paul was not among the Twelve. He witnessed none of Jesus’ miracles, heard none of his parables. He did not parade with him into Jerusalem, and he was not at the cross. He never sought Jesus at all. But Jesus found him.
I go to church, sing the hymns, give my offering, volunteer to teach. I know how to be a pretty good church member, but what I really want is for Jesus to find me too.

God of Messiah, hear my longing for Jesus to find me. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 21:33-46

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Lectionary Week
October 2–8, 2017
Scripture Overview

The Decalogue in Exodus 20 need not be considered a litmus test of righteousness or religious purity but rather a declaration that lies near the heart of the covenant relationship between Yahweh and Israel. The Torah is the way the people say yes to God’s saving initiatives. Psalm 19:1-6 links the gift of the Torah to other acts of divine creation. The balance of the psalm celebrates the strength and beauty of the Torah and moves the reader behind the Torah to its Giver, thereby proclaiming the gospel of the well-ordered life. In Philippians 3 Paul speaks of himself as leaning into the future in response to the manner in which Jesus Christ has invaded his own life. The parable in Matthew 21 presents a direct and bold affinity for living in accordance with the gospel, producing “fruits of the kingdom.”

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20. If you are unable to live out the Commandments, which ones would you remove from the list?
• Read Psalm 19. If you monitored your speech for a day, how would you describe the tone and content? What one gift would you petition God for?
• Read Philippians 3:4b-14. How is your church and its people a sign for those who need hope and new life?
• Read Matthew 21:33-46. Where in your church, among the members and in the various meetings and activities, have you seen evidence that folks “have forgotten who owns the vineyard”?

Respond by posting a prayer.

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