From the Rev. Spencer W. Brown

Matthew 21:23-32

Who has the authority? Who claims the authority? What is the authority we have? All important and complicated questions from the Gospel lesson for this Sunday. Jesus’ authority is questioned and, in a bizarre turn of events, affirmed by the chief priests and elders. His authority to preach, teach, live, and seek right relationship with all creation are affirmed in the series of parables in this portion of Matthew.

The chief priests and elders with all their fancy titles, degrees, power, community clout, and accoutrements, are appalled at this low-class person daring to come and teach or preach or heal. But that’s when, just like many times before, Jesus flips the script. The parable Christ hurls at us is uncomfortable. Do we practice what we preach? Do we just give lip service to the Gospel?

Living in these complicated and bizarre times can be disheartening. We’re often discouraged or exhausted with the situation. However, this is our chance to truly practice what we preach. To practice radical love, divine justice, peaceable equity, we have been sent into the world.

There’s nothing to risk to practice what we preach. We hear about love from the Church every week. So how do we begin? We begin with our selves. To spread the radical love of God, to undo hatred and indifference, to seek justice, equity and peace, we begin with our selves. So, I challenge you to begin like this –

Look in the mirror

Breathe

Speak Out Loud, “God loves you just as you are. Unconditionally.”

Breathe

Speak Out Loud, “I love you just as you are. Unconditionally.”

We begin by loving the image of God in ourselves. Only in this way are we able to practice what we preach and love others for the beautiful reflection of the image of God they were created to be, just as they are and affirmed for the goodness of their being.

This isn’t easy. Having the authority to affirm, embrace, and welcome all is given to us by Christ. This authority to heal the wounds of the heart and soul has the power to save lives. Often it only takes knowing one person to open our eyes to another reflection of the image of God.

We have the authority, and we have been dispersed into the world to practice what we know. There’s nothing holding us back besides ourselves. Thankfully, we aren’t in this alone. We do this work with God’s help, and with the love, support, and affirmation of our beloved community. Thanks be to God.