September 28, 2014
Matthew 21:23-32
Philippians 2:1-13
Exodus 17:1-7


By what authority?
Proper 21 | OT 26 | Pentecost 16

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David Coffin
It is the first week of classes at a small college or university in the 1970s and 1980s in Midwest America. The professor stands in the auditorium with pride and asks the whole class of students to stand up. The professor tells the students to each look to their right side, then to their left side. The professor smiles and announces that one out of two of the students will not graduate from this institution. It is with a confident if not superior tone of voice that the professor says that 50% of the students will drop out of college. The students are asked to be seated, then the professor proceeds to lecture at a rapid speed as students scribble notes on their legal pads. This university professor has real authority for the times.

Now let us fast-forward to the twenty-first century in a small Midwest college faculty office. There is to be a student and professor conference on the student's academic progress. This time the student is not only present, but has parents, the family lawyer, and sometimes the family accountant sit in the faculty office. The family now reminds this professor that their son or daughter is paying for the high costs of education, a student marker that is dwindling in numbers. Now they do expect that their son or daughter will be treated well in this institution of higher learning. If not, regardless of tenure status, the professor's department head will be notified -- and maybe somebody on the board of directors. The "authority" has shifted.

In an office building nearby the university, an employee is hired into a company by a human resources director. The employee is treated well and welcomed into the company. One year later, the employee looks out the window to see the same human resources director who hired him or her now being led out to their car while carrying a box full of their office belongings, accompanied by a security guard, and their employee badge taken from them. Here is another example of shift in authority. All three of the texts today deal with sources of authority....

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This Week
September 28, 2014
Proper 21 | OT 26
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October 5, 2014
Proper 22 | OT 27
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Proper 23 | OT 28
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Proper 24 | OT 29
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Proper 25 | OT 30
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