You are always welcome here! God promises to meet you where you are, whatever your circumstances and with whatever questions you have. You can also share your gifts here. You have experiences, knowledge, and talents to share. Here you can grow in your faith and help others to grow in their faith.
There is a place for you here at First English Lutheran Church.
401 W. Main Street Whitewater, WI 53190
Church Office: 262-473-5076
WORSHIP TIMES AT FIRST ENGLISH
First English Lutheran Church
Worship Online, or Channel 990
Join us anytime by Emailing: email@example.com
We are learning virtually!
Click here for to see Silent Auction Baskets
(View All Items)
Bidding Begins OCTOBER 10th
Bidding Ends OCTOBER 31st
In Jesus' "Parable of the Two Sons," Matthew 21:23-32, we have a father who tells his two sons to go and work in his vineyard. One son says, "No way," but then changes his mind and goes. The other says, "Sure, Dad," but then does not go. This story is both realistic and hopeful. It is realistic about the fact that some, including us at times, like the second son, may have good intentions but then don't follow through with doing God's work in the world. But it is hopeful, because, as was the case for the first son, we may not at first answer God's call to work for him, but it is never too late for us to change our minds and start living for God.
We know that most of those listening would probably agree with the proverb that, “actions speak louder than words.” Therefore, we think that the first son, despite his initial refusal of his dad’s command, is the one who “did the will of his father.” And we know that Jesus links this parable to the response of the tax collectors and prostitutes, the unrespectable people who nonetheless responded to Jesus' call to repent and receive the good news of the kingdom of God. Most biblical scholars agree that this parable highlights the growing tension between Jesus and the religious authorities of his day and builds the case against those same temple leaders for their failure to answer Jesus’ question about John’s authority, their failure to accept his message, and their failure to recognize Jesus as God’s promised Messiah. This may be the case. But I wonder if this parable does not also offer words of surprise and hope.
I hear in this story the surprising possibility that someone who has refused to hear God's message may still change their mind. Hope that it is not too late to respond to the Good News of God's grace. Hope that your past actions or current situation do not determine your future. Hope that even those whom the good, respectable, religious people think are beyond caring about, or considering equal to them in God's eyes, are never beyond the all-embracing love of God.
This is good news for us. No matter what may have happened to us in the past, God still wants to meet us in the present, and God wants to give us an open future. It is not too late. God is here with us now, inviting us to live in God's realm of justice and love. And God is able to shape our every moment from this time forward. 20th-century theologian, Paul Tillich, talked about the "eternal now." What he means is that every moment contains within it the possibility of accepting God's grace, repenting of whatever has kept us from God's love, and entering into a right relationship with God and others. When we do this, we receive a future that is open, not closed or pre-determined.
God's promise to us of an open future shapes our present. What things do you think are holding you back from living a full life now? What keeps you from accepting God's promises for yourself now? When you hear, "God is our refuge and strength," that promise is for you, too: "God, you are my refuge and strength." When Jesus says, "I am the bread of life," that is Jesus' word for you now: "Jesus, you are the food and nourishment of my life today." When you hear God's word of forgiveness, God invites you to accept God's forgiveness of your sins now.
In our congregation and community are all kinds of people. Some like the current president and some don't. Some applaud the NFL players who affirm that "black lives matter" and others are annoyed by it. Some want schools and churches to open up fully in-person right now and others want to be cautious and wait until the most complete public health guidance certifies that the risk is very low. Some are optimistic about the future and others are pessimistic. But whatever our differences with each other, we do know that God is reaching out to each one with the gift of acceptance and forgiveness and love, the signs of the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaims.
We live in a time of many divisions. And without undervaluing the important beliefs and values and commitments that are the basis of some of those divisions, we also need to remind ourselves that underneath all those differences is the deep common truth that we are each and all children of God, whom God loves and is speaking to now. Therefore, we can take some time to listen a little more carefully to one another, to try to understand one another, and to try to listen to God who calls us to be one in the body of Christ.
May the Lord continue to call you to live a life full of hope and purpose and responsible love for your neighbors. Accept God's grace for yourself and know that this grace is also every other person, even those most different from you.
In Christ's hope and love,