PENTECOST 22C     October 24, 2010


Joel 2:23-32. The only reading from Joel in Year C. The previous verses describe with graphic detail the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah. These verses speak of a restoration to come and later a time when God's Spirit would be poured out on ALL flesh with simultaneous portents in heaven and earth -- while the sky is dark and the moon blood red, people of all ages and stations will prophesy, see visions, and dream dreams.
Psalm 65
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 (4th week of 4). "The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race."
Luke 18:9-14 -- Parable of Prayer in the Temple. The Pharisee: "God, I thank you that I am not like other people ... ." The tax collector: "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." All who humble themselves will be exalted

- Craddock points out that the Pharisee was not a villain and the Tax Collector was not a hero....(Pharisee was dedicated to the law; Tax collectors were working for Rome, unclean and traitors). The point is that God justifies sinners who confess.

(v. 10a). People must literally go up to the temple to pray. Jerusalem is built on a mountain, and the temple is on a high point in the city. Traditional times for public prayer are 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (Acts 2:15; 3:1), but a person can engage in private prayers at any time of the day.

-Human and humility also have same root. (we are part of nature...not above it) "Human earth creature" is collectively called "Adam." Because Adam is created of "adamah"--the ground, earth, soil.

-This parable is unique to Luke, as is the preceding parable on prayer (18:1-8 -- last week's text). Luke has a greater emphasis on prayer than the other gospels.

- Christ sends none away empty but those who are full of themselves.
Donald Gray Barnhouse

-Beating one's breast is a gesture used by Mideastern men seldom and only to express the most extreme anguish. We find examples only here and at the cross (23:48) (K. Bailey, 153).
"I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income" (v. 12). The Pharisee clearly exceeds Torah requirements:  

- Proper praying recognizes our status as sinners before God.

-If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought. (Dennis Roth) 
- Prayers that Bounce off the Ceiling.

-It is equally tempting for us to be prideful, self-righteous, and contemptuous. Clergy of mainline churches accuse fundamentalists of such attitudes, but are tempted to pray, "Thank God I am not like those fundys!"

-The Pharisee measured himself compared to others; the Publican as to what God thought of him

- This parable is about us!

-Considering how these characters were probably viewed in the first century, Crossan has suggested an interesting equivalent: "A Pope and a pimp went into St. Peter's to pray." I think that this picture is closer to the original understanding of a Pharisee and a publican -- especially in relationship to the temple.

- The Pharisee was a self-made man....didn't need God.

-The Pharisee had enough religion to be virtuous, but not enough to be humble. As a result, his religion drove him away from the tax collector rather than toward him. Culpepper

- The Pharisee does all the right things for the wrong reasons

 - people either grow or they swell. Senator Alan Simson b

-  There is a difference between being righteous and being self-righteous. Truly righteous or virtuous people know that they too are capable of contemptible behavior. They know that it is only because of the goodness of God that they have been spared situations in which their weaknesses would have overpowered them. The truly righteous are fundamentally humble. The self-righteous, on the other hand, take full credit for their admirable actions. They do not consider the influence that circumstances may have on their behavior. They are proud of themselves; they boast of their adherence to moral principles; and they look down on those who unsuccessfully struggle with life in ways that they do not. Dianne Bergant

-Tragically we make idols of our strength, our money, our fame, and our power. Perhaps most tragically we make idols of our religion. We latch on to the things that should be pointing us to God and make them into idols. Rev. Dr. Joseph S. Pagano

-Although centuries of Christian interpretation have led us to think of Pharisees as the bad guys, this is not fair. They are often presented as Jesus’ opponents in the gospels, but we need to remember that they were society’s good people. They were dependable, honest, upright, good neighbors, contributors to the community. ibid

-The tax collector’s humility was not a virtue that earns him God’s love and acceptance. The tax collector’s humility is a posture of openness in which he is able to receive God’s love. Ultimately, the Pharisee and the tax collector are the same. They both need God’s love. The difference is that the Pharisee doesn’t know it and the tax collector does. The tax collector goes up to the temple with nothing to show for himself. His hands and his heart are empty and he knows it, and therefore he has room to experience the gospel and the good news that there is nothing we need to do, nothing we can do, to earn the grace and love of God. ibid

-the love that moves the sun and the other stars, the love that creates, sustains, and redeems the cosmos, is always uttering its eternal “Yes” to our question “Do you love me?”

SERMON                                                   GROW OR SWELL

-He Who looks outside, dreams; who looks INSIDE , awakes. Carl G. Jung
-Pride-swollen faces have closed up our eyesl
-Some men never feel small, but these are the few men who are small.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
-Illusions keep us from becoming fully human. They are comfortable Craddock
-Build thee more stately mansions O my soul, O.W. Holmes
-In the end it's not what we have or do that's what we take from what we have or do.
-Man's main task in life is to give birth to become what he potentially is. E.Fromm.
-We cannot be just an ordinary egg...we must be hatched or go bad."C.S.Lewis
-Becoming is superior to being.
-One comes into the present unfinished.
-When asked how I am I say< I flourish. Not like a hot house plant but like a weed… Gomes
-He is the wounded healer who turns the expectations of the world upside down. Making glory out of humiliation, making victory out of defeat, making life out of death.
-A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men. Thomas Carlyle      compassion, pride, humility.
-Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of man you are. Thomas Carlyl
-A man without God is not like a cake without raisins; he is like a cake without the flour and milk; he lacks the essential.
-Joan Osborn's Rock tune "What if God were one of us?" That, indeed, is what the search for Jesus is about.
-Charles Spurgeon said, "Humility is to make a right estimate of one's self. It is not humility for a man to think less of himself than he ought."
-God pickles the proud and preserves the foolish.
-No man that needs a monument should have one. Hawthorne humility

-The ground at the foot of the cross is level.
- Humility is knowledge of self.
-No man that needs a monument should have one. Nathaniel Hawthorne
-Hypocrisy most often clothed in the garb of religion.Hosea Ballou
-Mark Twain's quote--"He was a good man in the worst sense of the word."
-The church is the only institution in the world whose membership is based on unworthiness to be a member. Charles Clayton Morrison
- We like the kind of religion we can measure. J. Ellsworth Kalas
- The root problem of good people is not that they have a holier-than-thou attitude but that they possess a holier-than-God attitude. J. Ellsworth Kalas
-Righteousness not a result of what you do or don't do.
-Too often we measure each other according to behavior and not motivation
- Cain was the first Pharisee
- Sometimes we have just enough religion to make us hate but not enough to make us love. Jonathan Swift
-“all I could never be; all men ignored in me; this I was worth to God.” (Browning)
-Whose we are rather than who we are.
-Bernard of Clairvaux in his book, "The Steps of Humility," said: (1) Pursue truth of God and you come to contemplation; (2) Pursue truth of neighbor and you come to compassion; (3) Pursue truth of self and you come to humility. If we do likewise, our prayers become more real. Amen.
-Crossan has suggested an interesting equivalent: "A Pope and a pimp went into St. Peter's to pray."
-Human goodness cannot reconcile the world.
-An arrow racing on its course, halts to see how far it went, how it compares with that very moment it falls to the ground. Soren Kierkegaard
-D. L. Moody : "God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves."
-The some bodies will be nobodies…John Crossan  The Essential Jesus
- "..but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:6-8
- Our value is a gift, not an achievement
-Worship isn’t for us, it’s for God
-We become what we worship: money (hard); fame (shallow); power (tyrannical); Pleasure (soft); accomplishment (proud).
-The birds don't sing because they've learned the song ..they sing simply because they have a song to sing
-Why do I keep seeing the Pharisee w/ Jerry Farwell's face? "Ah thank God that I'm not like those homosexuals and abortionists...." Pamela
-How would you assess your self? "I'm O.K., You're not O.K.? I'm not O.K., You're O.K.? I'm dysfunctional, you're dysfunctional? etc.etc.
-Knowledge fills a large brain and inflates a small one. Sydney J. Harris
-Text: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, says the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24

1. The parable as a whole is a challenge to our normal expectations. If "justification" comes because of either the Pharisee's righteous life-style or the tax collector's prayer, then aren't they, in some way, justifying themselves? If "justification" comes in spite of one's life-style or prayer, then it is totally dependent upon God's graciousness. Our motivation for living rightly or praying honestly needs to be something different than to "get something from God." Stoffregen
2. Nothing I can do will make God love me more. Nothing I can do will make God love me less. Lindy

-Hide a pin taped to your finger. Tell the story from Luke 18. With a balloon blown us but not tied describe the Publican while letting air out of the balloon to show how humble the Publican felt. Then tell the story of the Pharisee and as you do slowly blow up the balloon. End with telling how proud the Pharisee was and just at the appropriate time burst the balloon with the concealed pin. Be sure to use Jesus' words: for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted Lindy

-A little riddle...what is the one thing that you may have, and the moment you say you have it, it is gone and you have it no more? (Humility)
- Have children wear your stoles. discuss how stoles were and are used. Hand each child a piece of paper with a subject for prayer on it. (taking a test, playing a important game, , etc.) have each child (wearing the stole) tell how they might pray in that circumstance). Remember, a child's faith not an adult faith. Lindy
-Yertle the Turtle Dr. Seuss. A great story for this lectionary reading.

1. In a hospital that was undergoing major renovation, the elevators were not working. There was a sign at the door leading to the stairs saying, "You must go down one flight before you can go up" The Pharisee needed to do this. Sometimes the only way up is down!.
2.the prayer that Hebrew men were to pray every morning thanking God that they were not women so that they could follow God's law. As much as we bristle that anyone would thank God that they're not women, the crux is about being able to follow the Law - women of that day followed tradition, but were not seen as religious leaders able to grow closer to God. Therefore, observing the Law would have been seen as a gift from God - a privilege - and thus something to thank God for, and since only males followed the law (and thus be closer to God - in the Hebrew mindset), then thanking God that they're not like others might have been a natural product of their upbringing.
2. We have records of ancient prayers similar to the Pharisee's and such prayers were not considered self-righteous boasting. The following prayer of thanksgiving from the Talmud was prayed by the rabbis on leaving (and perhaps entering) the house of study.
I give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, that Thou has set my portion with those who sit in the Beth ha-Midrash [the house of study] and Thou has not set my portion with those who sit in [street] corners for I rise early and they rise early, but I rise early for words of Torah and they rise early for frivolous talk; I labor and they labor, but I labor and receive a reward and they labor and do not receive a reward; I run and they run, but I run to the life of the future world and they run to the pit of destruction. [b. Ber. 28b (Soncino 1: 172), quoted in Hear Then the Parables by Bernard Brandon Scott]
3. Doorway in a Basilica in Romania was only four feet high. Put there intentionally so people would have to bow down before entering church. Aldersgate UMC sermon Dec`4, 05
4. Ordination, like baptism, is the celebration of a demotion. Unlike sorority initiation or Eagle Scout
ceremonies, it is a rite in which we step down, not up. We are made servants of all.

-Senator Hollings took lie detector test just to see what it was like. He failed it when he Started by saying “In my humble opinion”
-Mohanned Ali on a airplane was told to fasten his seat belt. "Superman don't need no seatbelt." was his reply. The flight attendant replied: "Superman don't need no air plane either.".
-If the Publican returns to his old ways, is he a re-publican?
-An empty vessel makes the greatest sound. Shakespeare
-"Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down." Jimmy Durante
-"God, please save me from your followers!" bumper sticker
-"Egotist: a person more interested in himself than in me."  Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
-"The nice thing about egotists is that they don't talk about other people." Lucille S. Harper
-"The average person thinks he isn't." Father Larry Lorenzoni
-Don't be so humble - you are not that great." Golda Meir
-Only God can look down on anybody.
-I am certain that there will be three surprises in heaven. First of all, I will see some people there whom I never expected to see. Second, there will be a number whom I expect to be there who will not be there. And, even relying on His mercy, the biggest surprise of all may be that I will be there. Fulton Sheen

-Forgive us when we try to save ourselves by attempting to increase our own value. Forgive us if we think we must become more valuable before you will love us. Help us to remember that it is because you love us that we are already valuable. Lindy
-Father, you alone are Holy. Help us overcome any tendency we have to
judge others and so exalt ourselves. Make us a people who approach you
with reverence and respect and with joy over what you have done, are
doing, and will yet do..... Lord hear our prayer...Richard J. Fairchild