October 5, 2014
Matthew 21:33-46
Philippians 3:4b-14
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
Psalm 19

Paying Up
Proper 22 | OT 27 | Pentecost 17

Full installment posted Tuesday afternoon.

Leah Lonsbury

While it was largely ignored by television news outlets, the turnout for the recent People’s Climate March was astounding as hundreds of thousands of people overflowed New York City streets. Intended to draw public attention ahead of last week’s United Nations Climate Summit conference, this “largest ever” march demonstrated just how important the problem of global climate change is for many people. As for the conference itself, no massive breakthroughs were made -- though there were some important takeaways. Nevertheless, figuring out how to constructively deal with the threat posed by global warming remains something of an existential issue for human civilization -- it’s becoming clearer every day that it’s not something we can continue to sweep under the rug or allow our decision-makers to “kick the can down the road” on... even if that would be their preference, since there are no easy solutions. In the next installment of The Immediate Word, team member Leah Lonsbury explores how we might view this issue in light of the parable Jesus tells in this week’s gospel passage. She suggests that we might think of ourselves as the tenants who are being delivered a metaphorical bill for our prosperity in the last few centuries. She asks us to consider if we will respond in a manner that reflects an understanding that we’re merely short-term tenants of a Creation that belongs to God (the landowner), or if we will we respond like the tenants in the parable... repeatedly slaying inconvenient messengers as we greedily attempt to keep it all for ourselves. Leah notes that we need to remember that good stewardship of creation is the rent we pay to the landowner for the privilege we have of living on this earth -- are we prepared to fulfill our responsibilities, or will we face the same fate as the tenants, who Jesus tells us will be put “to a miserable death” and will have “the vineyard [leased] to other tenants”? Here’s a preview:

Paying Up
by Leah Lonsbury
Matthew 21:33-46; Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

The Earth... you may know it as that blue thing Bruce Willis is always trying to save. Or from its famous collaboration with Wind and Fire. Or just simply as that place where George Clooney lives.

That’s how John Oliver, host of HBO’s satirical news program Last Week Tonight, began a segment in May about a White House report that global warming is affecting us now -- that this is not some problem we can deal with down the road, in the future tense. 

Oliver went on to examine a media report that one in four Americans still don’t believe in climate change in this way...

Who gives a s*&$? That doesn’t matter! You don’t need people’s opinions on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking “Which number is bigger, 15 or 5?” or “Do owls exist?” or “Are there hats?” The debate on climate change should not be whether or not it exists, it’s what we should do about it.

John Oliver knows we’ve been living large in the vineyard and that the rent is due. 

Do we? Do our leaders? How aware are we as tenants on the earth enjoying God’s good creation that it is high time to return the good that has been given so generously to us? How will we respond? By killing the messenger and keeping the spoils of the earth’s goodness all to ourselves? What will it take for us to understand that careful and sacrificial stewardship of the good creation are the rent we pay to the Landowner for the privilege and gift of living on this earth? Or will we be a part of the 25% that vehemently denies that there is a problem threatening all God’s people and that insists that 5 is indeed bigger than 15? 

Are we prepared to pay up, or are we prepared to pay the price the selfish and violent tenants pay in Jesus’ parable? 

This week we’ll take a look at our position as tenants and our bill that has come due.

How will we respond? How should we respond? 

We’ll sift through Jesus’ teaching in this parable for wisdom and look to the Ten Commandments for direction. 

How are we commanded to pay our bill toward the benefit of all of God’s people, ourselves included?
What knocks us off track? 
Who leads us astray?
How must we fight that kind of deception and misdirection?

How can we begin paying up?

>> Full installment posted Tuesday afternoon.

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Immediate Word Team
(Click on photo
  for author's bio.)

George Reed

Mary Austin

Ronald H. Love

Dean Feldmeyer

Leah Lonsbury

Chris Keating