November 26, 2022

Reign of Christ 20-11-2022

20th November 2022 

(Christ the King Sunday)

Title: Reign of Christ 

(Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 23:1–6 & Luke 23:33–43)

                                                                                   By Heeyoung Lim

Grace and peace to you all. Today is Christ the King Sunday or Reign of Christ Sunday. It brings us full circle in the liturgical year. It means Today is the last Sunday of the church calendar. Next week, we will begin again in Advent, preparing for the birth of the Christ child.

In today’s texts, Jeremiah indicts leaders for not only failing to gather the people but scattering them. However, there is a message of hope in Jeremiah 23. The Lord promises to choose leaders who will care for scattered people like real shepherds. He declares that He will place new shepherds who will lead in accordance with God’s heart. He continues to declare that God’s people will no longer be afraid or terrified, not will any be missing. As in Jeremiah 23, the people scattered by the wrongdoing of their leaders will be brought back under the oversight of God as Shepherd. In Jeremiah, the term “shepherd” means “king”, and the prophet Jeremiah refers to God as a shepherd.

God will gather the scattered sheep from exile and provide a new ruler according to God’s plan. In verse 6, The Lord says, “As long as he is king, Israel will have peace and Judah will live in safety.” The name of this king will be called, “The Lord our Righteous Saviour.” The king will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. 

God’s promise does not stop at bringing back the scattered ones and putting in place new leaders who will serve the people. This is beyond the past or present; it is a word of restoration that looks forward to the future and belongs to God.

Today’s text takes us from what humans have messed up to what God is able to accomplish. The promise of God comes even in our tough times. God’s word of promise re-creates the people’s trust in God. His word is the word of hope and restoration. Jeremiah 23 speaks as to both what God will do in the future and to what God is doing here and now. It is accomplished through the Servant-King and Good Shepherd Jesus.

We are able to see Jeremiah’s expectations for a righteous king here, and the king cares for all the people as a good shepherd. May we live with the Lord as our king and model what Micah’s call “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Christ is our king. 

As our world struggles with war, famine, heat wave, flood, bushfire, and many kinds of tragedies, how do we consider our call to live as God’s people? We long for God’s abundance and blessings in our lives, but we are suffering from something unexpected or difficult. What are our responses to the underlying issues of poverty, health, hunger, violence, and power? How do we get in on God’s restorative justice?

The reign of Christ is the reign of peace. Living under Christ’s reign means we are called to model Christ’s example to love God and neighbour. We are also called to work toward justice and God’s restoration for all people.

In Luke, while the religious leaders worked to destroy life, Jesus worked to save it. As Jesus prayed for forgiveness, the Roman soldiers mocked Jesus, took his clothes and casted lots for them. We can see that the word Psalm 22:18 was fulfilled in this act. God knew his Son would die, suffering for the sins of the world (Isa. 53). The crowd and soldiers continued mocking and testing until Jesus died on the cross.

Jesus’ chosen disciples had fled the area in fear while He was on the cross. He watched those who mocked him and crucified him and asked the Father to forgive them. (v. 34) Jesus is shown asking God’s forgiveness for his persecutors. He poured out grace on those who executed him. Jesus’ forgiveness and grace broke through darkness, ridicule, and even death, showing that he is the King of peace and love.

In Luke 22, the people gathered and called for Jesus’ crucifixion. In today’s text, they became bystanders and part of the audience even in front of Jesus’ death. (35) In addition, they challenged Jesus to prove his kingship and to save himself. However, Jesus refused to save himself, he provided salvation for the world. Jesus was not the political messiah people wanted; He was the suffering Servant Messiah who saved others by dying on the cross with life giving love. 

“Remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (v. 42) The repentant thief wanted to be remembered when Jesus entered his kingdom. The thief did not have to wait even one day, because Jesus’ response was immediate. He did not know all the truth about Jesus, but he had faith to ask to be part of what Jesus was up to. His faith and confession just before his death secured him a place with Jesus. He would be part of Jesus’ kingdom in paradise. Jesus did nothing to deserve a criminal’s death, but He died on the cross so that we might be part of his kingdom.

Jesus showed compassion and grace even on the cross. Salvation and eternal life are God’s gifts given through Jesus who died on the cross. Christ’s promise to the thief extends to all who believe in him. When we acknowledge our sin and seek his salvation, Jesus responds with a word for today. May we experience life in Christ’s kingdom today by believing in him. Living word of Christ will lead us in all circumstances and let us experience the kingdom of God even in this world. 

People’ sins led Jesus to the cross, but Jesus gave people opportunities to be saved by faith and places to be entered in His kingdom. Jesus has a place in paradise for believers. The cross revealed the glory of Christ by his obedience to God and his love by his care for other people. May we live a life that is dedicated to God and God’s way of peace, justice, and love above all else.

The reign of Christ for scattered, excluded, and people who are lost will continue in our lives. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, seeking and saving those who are lost. May we praise God for all he has done for us on the cross and live in expectation of the kingdom.

How can we express that God is the ruler of our lives? We are called to look to the Lord as king manifested in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. May we constantly look at Jesus and proclaim to whom we encounter the justice and love of Christ. This Sunday offers us the opportunity to proclaim God’s way and Christ’s reign. We can reflect on the truth that divine love and forgiveness are for each person. Christ’s peaceful reign does not know national boundaries. The reign of Christ holds us together and binds us by grace.

I believe that we will be closer to the Lord and live the life God wants. Just before Advent, may we think of our spiritual life over the past year or last ten years regarding closeness to God. I pray that our church family will be filled with divine love, peace, and justice in the reign of Christ. 

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

God is Creating with his Infinite Possibilities 13-11-2022

13th November 2022 (Pentecost 23 & Remembrance Day) 

Title: God is creating with His infinite possibilities

(Scripture Readings: Isaiah 65:17–25 & Luke 21:5–9)

                                                                                     By Heeyoung Lim 

Today’s text invites us toward the Reign of Christ and Advent when we prepare to welcome the Messiah who came to us to embody God’s creating work and saving love and the infinite possibilities of “new heavens and new earth”. As we move toward the end of the church year, we long a renewed world healed by God’s love and justice for all people and all Creation.

Most scholars believe Isaiah 65:17–25 was written after the people of Judah returned from exile in Babylon. Their return was not as triumphant as they had hoped. Their homeland was destroyed and had to be rebuilt with so many risks. The prophet speaks to those facing the task of rebuilding Jerusalem. He speaks God’s word of hope that God will not remember Israel’s disobedience. The word remember in scripture means bringing a past event into the present with all costs. Just as God will not bring past transgressions into the present, the people are called to leave behind the fear and anguish of exile and embrace God’s infinite possibilities of “new heavens and a new earth” (v. 17). 

As in verse 18, God is creating “new heavens and a new earth.” May we be glad and rejoice forever in what God is creating. The new creation would differ greatly from the old one, being dominated by joy instead of sadness. The joy would be shared by God and by people. In God’s new creation, sadness will vanish, and weeping will be replaced by joy and peace. God’s people are participants in this new Creation.

This new Creation is described as a place where God’s people will live and enjoy meaningful lives in a close relationship with God. These messages reverse situations of human distress and difficulties and speak a word of God’s ultimate Justice and infinite love to all who have suffered. God’s living words influence our daily lives, and His people participate in this new Creation. The work of creation involves human participation now and in the future. Each of God’s faithful people would enjoy the works of their hands.

Even though Isaiah 11:18 declares that on God’s “holy mountain” the serpent and humankind will live in harmony, here the prophet suggests that God is limiting His creature from the beginning of this new Creation. In Genesis 3:14, the serpent is “cursed” for its part in the disobedience of Adam and Eve, but in this region of the Middle East, serpents were symbols of wisdom and fertility. What signs do we observe of “new heavens and new earth” in our lives?  What does it mean to live into this vision and help shape it? 

In today’s text, labour would be rewarded, every newborn would escape the sudden disaster, and curses would disappear. Every generation would be blessed by God. God’s people find joy in signs of God’s new creation. May we find joy as a new creation in Christ. 

In the time of Jesus, the Jews praised the beauty and wonder of their temple. They depended on fortresses for protection, or they were interested in beautiful architecture. Herod had built and decorated the temple with a huge amount of white marble stones and silver and gold gates and doors.

However, Jesus said, “The time is coming when not one of them will be left in place. He repeated his warning that the temple would be completely destroyed, and Jesus’ followers asked when this would happen. They wanted to know what signs would warn them. 

Jesus was not the only one who promised signs for the future. In those times, many teachers insisted on having more knowledge than Jesus did, and false messiahs wanted people to follow them as God’s Messiah. Deceivers will always try to gain glory and power by pointing to false signs of the last times.

Jesus who called people to “follow me” but now says, “Do not follow them.” The one we should follow is Jesus. In the following words, there are many signs Jesus mentioned, and they take place before Christ returns. Every generation has its wars or signs, but those are not the end, and they take place before the end comes. Christ has given us the signs so that we can pray and get ready for His second coming and the kingdom of God. In verse 18 and 19, Jesus promised that we will be saved by faith, and we will win life if we stand firm. May we lean on Jesus in all circumstances rather than depending on worldly values for protection from the sinful world.

Christ will return in glory, and he expects His people to be ready for His return. May we pray that God will give us strength and protection in the fears, uncertainty, and chaos we are experiencing. We do not know when Christ will come again, but signs of the times will help us realize the end is near so we can prepare for Jesus’ return. May we be alert to what is happening and be prepared to stand firm as a faithful and true follower. I believe that God gives us strength and protection for our daily lives and the last days. 

Luke 21:5–19 offers a vision, with enough trouble, loss, and sadness to make the strongest person shake with fear. When the gospel of Luke was written, the temple and Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Romans. God, loving and mighty creator, speaks His word into our weary world and makes all things new. May we live in the harmony God makes and leads. We are called to live out the gospel in this renewed world of God’s justice and peace. Jesus’ word is true and can be trusted for now and eternity. 

Luke mentions the fears, uncertainty, and chaos people are experiencing firsthand. Yet in the gospel, they hear Jesus’ words that even when all looks lost, they can trust in the creative presence of God. He will put a word on their lips, a song in their hearts, with the wisdom and strength they need for the most difficult of times. Even when it appears all is lost, God calls us to participate in the healing promise of God. One day God’s praying people will see a new heaven and a new earth, paradise restored, with no more violence, no more injustice, and peace and joy for all. I believe that we are also to “be glad and rejoice forever in what God is creating” 

Today’s text provides an opportunity for worshippers to rejoice in God’s promises, express gratitude for God’s blessings, review experiences of God’s assistance in times past, and commit their trust to God for the future. I believe that worship that promotes joyful experiences through fellowship, music, prayer, teaching, and proclamation will offer and deepen a spiritual foundation.

In Christ, may we stan firm in all circumstances. 

A Prayer for People of Courage

We offer to you, O God, our prayers for those who seek justice and resist evil. We pray for those who need your presence and strength to stand firm; for those who are oppose the use of violence in any form in faithful response to the Prince of Peace. We pray for those are prepared to be firm to protect those in danger. We pray for those who walk with others who need strength. We pray for those who protest, those who organize letter campaigns, those who give sacrificially on behalf of others. 

We pray for those who speak the unpopular truth; who protect the unpopular victims; who choose the unpopular path of peace.

We pray for those who do not let their desire for peace hinder the requirements of justice, and for those who do not let their zeal for justice override the call for peace.

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials) 

Order of Service and Notices 13-11-2022

pastedGraphic.png Worship at LEIGHMOOR UCA

Sunday 13th November 2022 – 9.30 a.m.

PENTECOST 23 

WELCOME TO WORSHIP

pastedGraphic_1.pngPLEASE STAND FOR ENTRY OF THE BIBLE 

SERVICE OF APPROACH

CALL TO WORSHIP

WELCOME

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

PRAYER

TIS 156                         Morning Has Broken              

    

SERVICE OF THE WORD

READINGS             Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 21:5-9      

TIS 217 (i)                             Love Divine           

  

CHILDREN TIME 

SERMON: God Is Creating with His Infinite Possibilities            

               [Sermon on Web / Hardcopies at the Door after worship]           

TIS 123                               Be Still My Soul           

SERVICE OF RESPONSE

JOYS AND CONCERNS
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION 

NOTICES – OFFERTORY 

TIS 569                                   Guide me     

BENEDICTION          God Be with You (v. 1)  

NOTICES:

Sunday School @Fellowship Hall

Morning Tea @Fellowship Hall 

Potted Palms Concert: 20th November 2PM @Leighmoor

Entry is by donation & Funds raised will go towards roof repairs

Music & Afternoon tea preparation

Sausage Sizzle & A Book/Plant Stall: On Election Day, Saturday 26th November

Friday Fellowship: 9th December 11AM @Fellowship Hall

Christmas Lunch – Bringing Dishes

Christmas Journey: Saturday, 24th December 4PM 

For Children and their families
Chilling + Interactive Christmas

Christmas Bible Fashion Show with Christmas Carols

Carols and Dancing + Treasure Hunt + Christmas Photo Zone 

Christmas Carol & Candle Service: Saturday, 24th December 8PM
For All Generations
Candle Service + Christmas Music + Words + Carols
Christmas Gifts Talk

Christmas Service: Sunday, 25th December 9.30AM

                     CHURCH CONTACTS

Minister: Rev Heeyoung Lim 

M: 0432 054 369 E: hyfilm12@gmail.com 

Website: www.leighmoorunitingchurch.org 

Zoom Service: Henry Wan (0403 150 404)

Closing time for Notices is 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.

God’s Truth 06-11-2022

Leighmoor, Murrumbeena, Coatsville combined service

Sunday 6 November 2022

All Saints

Readings: Psalm 98, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, Luke 20: 27-38

Title: God’s truth

Rev Anneke Oppewal

Psalm 98 is a beautiful song of praise filled with joy and bubbling with imagery that is uplifting and heart warming. Rivers clapping their hands, mountains that jump for joy, the sea bubbling with excitement while trumpets and other musical instruments play jubilant tunes. It sings of a God that conquers the world with justice and faithful love, that comes to save and shows the world what righteousness, a life according to God’s hopes for the world look like. 

In the Church of my youth in Holland there was a hymn that caught that mood perfectly. And to this day it is still one of my all time favourites. Even hearing the first notes lifts my mood and my heart and I’ll keep humming it for hours after I have heard or sung it. I’m sure there is an equivalent in English, but, up till now, I’ve never encountered an English rendition of Psalm 98 that does the same as the Dutch one does for me. 

I hope you have hymns or songs or music like that. That lift you wherever you are or whatever you are doing or feeling at the time and will take you to another level of being. If only for a little while. 

That Jesus would have known and sung this psalm makes it even more precious I think. It was the spiritual food he would have been raised on. Words that accompanied him on his journey and shaped his way of worshipping and prayer every day. Singing God’s praises with words that went back to the time of Kin David and some of them even to before that, singing and reciting words that have stayed with his followers for centuries after. 

Old, old songs and words that have renewed, revived and revitalised people for thousands of years now. And we are still singing them. How good is that? 

What happens in the gospel reading is in stark contrast to the joy and boundless energy with which the Psalm speaks to us. The mood is cold and dark, the words are clipped and angry, the imagery conjured up is one of confusion, conflict and angst. Jesus has entered Jerusalem, he has entered the temple, he is in the place where that joy for God should have been more abundant than anywhere else and the tension and simmering passive aggression is palpable. 

Tell us Jesus….. The sadducees, priests that were in charge of the temple grounds, wealthy, powerful and considered authorities on matters of religion, come and put an absurd question to Jesus. Not because they want to learn something. Not because they are interested in debate. But because they want to cut Jesus down to size, diminish him in the eyes of the people, embarrass him if they can. 

The question is in the same category as the question that kept theologians in the middle ages occupied for a while about how many angels would fit on the top of a needle. 

And the answer is very simple: We don’t know. 

So, if the law in Jesus day, designed to protect widowed women and make sure males had a maximum chance of continuing into the future through their offspring, even if they died, could result in an absurd scenario. Should brothers continue to die and a widow continue to be handed down the line of a group of brothers, what would happen if they all turned up in heaven after the resurrection is a question we cannot know the answer to and that the scriptures don’t, anywhere, even attempt to solve. 

What Jesus does, when that absurd and unanswerable question is put to him, is show up the people that ask it as people that lack faith and imagination in even coming up with the question. 

They take a law that was designed to keep women, who at that time lost everything when they got married, safe by ordering that their new family would continue to look after them. And that a man who died without children might still have his name continue into the future through a child his brother might have with his wife. So the brother, through this child, could be present when the end of times would come to bring praises to God. 

The sadducees, with their question, turn a law that was designed to protect and secure life into an absurd questioning of what might happen after we all die in a place that none of us can know exactly what will happen about. 

Look, says Jesus, as he shows them up quoting from their own sacred scriptures. All I know is that God is a God of the living, even after they have died. Moses, Abraham, Isaak, Jacob: God has never stopped loving them and they are, still, alive, for God as well as for us in who they were and how they lived. For God that difference, that may be such a big thing in our minds and hearts, the boundary between life and death, is simply non existent and of no importance. God is here. And in God all who have lived are still alive. And all who have lived we may know are still loved, known and cared for by God. As we are loved, known and cared for. 

That’s all we need to know. And how that works out? Well, perhaps all we need to do there is trust that in God’s way, in God’s time, in God’s world that will be worked out in a way that we may simply not be able to imagine. 

What the sadducees at the time of the question didn’t know, but what Luke, at the time of writing did know, is that the temple where this debate takes place, the home ground of the sadducees where they feel confident enough to waylay Jesus with their questions, will soon no longer be. That the whole structure of how the Jewish faith is organised and especially the priestly caste of the Sadducees is about to disappear completely from the face of the earth. 

Those who Luke was writing for would have also know that, as we do. Which makes the question of the Sadducees even more poignantly absurd. They worry about what might happen to a imaginary woman in an imaginary scenario after death, while their own death and all that they stand for is imminent without them realising it. Where will they be when the time comes? How will they live on in God’s love and care? Where will they be when the time comes? 

Even larger of course, for Luke, for the people he writes for and for us, looms the death and resurrection of Jesus and how in him life after death will take on a completely different meaning and dimension. Here, now, God is the God of the living Christ and the living Christ a reality that continues in our midst. Here, now, life after death, the death of Jesus, is taking shape in our lives and faith. Here, now, a new temple has come about, not one of bricks and mortar but of living faith in Christ. 

We, and if we read those few verses from 2 Thessalonians correctly, they too, keep struggling to come to terms with that. While we continue to quibble about minutiae that really don’t matter that much in the context of eternity and the eternal and limitless love and care of God for all people, present, past and future, we find it hard to focus on the bigger picture. 

The God who Moses met at the burning bush, the God who called Abraham and travelled with his offspring, the God who kept widening the circle of grace and love until it included all of creation in his longing for life and light, that God is not going to let us go. That God will be around after our buildings and theological systems and dogmatic constructs have gone to dust and will continue to love and care and save and bring justice and joy to those who open their heart to that God. 

That is all we need to know. God is faithful, God will remain faithful, God has been faithful in love, in the pursuit of justice, in the working of miracles that bring and sustain life in abundance. Here, now and everywhere. 

Sing a new Song says the Psalm and it is really a very old song we are called to take up anew. For a God that works miracles, that comes to bring justice, peace, healing and righteous living, a God that loves, cares and guides towards a life filled with joy and praise into eternity.   Amen. 

Transformed Witnesses 30-10-2022

30th October 2022 (Pentecost 21 & Reformation Sunday) 

Title: Transformed Witnesses

(Scripture Readings: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12 & Luke 19:1-10)

                                                                              By Heeyoung Lim 

In 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12, a community has been praised for its steadfastness in the face of persecution. Paul expressed his gratitude for the connection between the faith growth and the community’s growing love. God’s love is made visible in many ways, through a transformed life, the love of an individual, and the change of perceptions and growing intimacy of a community. We find an inner strength and shared feeling when we recognize and give thanks for how individual and collective beings witness God’s abundant grace every day. May we consider the many ways God’s love is made visible in our days, in our communities and the world.

In verses 1-4, Paul greets the congregation at Thessalonica with love and gratitude. He notes that their increasing faith and love and spiritual maturity are growing stronger and steadier. Their maturity and growth are considered as an example of Christian stability for other communities. In verses 11–12, Paul assures that he, Silvanus, and Timothy will continue to pray for them. He believes that God may continue to empower them, help to fulfill their calling, lead to the glory of their Lord Jesus.

We need growth and maturity to be strong as a witness of Christ in the midst of changing times and a challenging world. Paul boasts of the faith of the Thessalonians and highlights their growth. He focuses on their improvements and commends not only their performance but their effort. Paul’s applause for the Thessalonians should today be understood as affirming their love for God and love for people and churches that seek to be a community of faith.

The writer notes with gratitude that “the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (v. 3). The faith community has been bound together by faith and love, even in its suffering. Their mutual love and their regard for one another has been increased even under the pain of persecution. God will not forget such steadfastness. 

In verses 11 & 12, God is the one who through His own power and grace makes people worthy of God’s call so that the name of Jesus is glorified in the world, and they are glorified in Jesus. These are the points of their prayers. After praying that the Thessalonians would experience God’s grace and peace, Paul offered thanksgiving for those believers because they continued to develop in faith and love. Although experiencing hardship, this church was an example to other churches because of their community life and love. This requires change and growth, and the story of a changed witness is found in the Gospel of Luke 19. 

In Luke 19:1-4, Jesus continued his journey up the dangerous hills toward Jerusalem. A tax collector was determined to see Jesus. As an administrator for the Roman government’s tax office, Zacchaeus had great wealth. He may overcharge the Jewish people and take a cut from the taxes gathered by other tax collectors whose work he administered. However, his wealth could not provide the one thing he wanted more than anything else. He was not able to see over or get through the massive crowd swarming around Jesus, Zacchaeus ran ahead, found a tree, and climbed up into its branches.

In 19:5, the clever tax collector did get a view of Jesus, and Jesus spotted him up in the tree. Jesus even invited himself to dinner at his house. Jesus said it was necessary for him to visit Zacchaeus. A necessity initiated by God to show one more time Jesus’ mission on earth. In 19:6-7, he overjoyed at this unexpected privilege, the short man rushed down the tree. 

The big crowd or his short height does not prevent Jesus from coming to Zacchaeus’s tree, making eye contact with him, calling him down, and inviting himself into the tax collector’s home and life. Jesus is going to eat with a sinful man, and the crowd must have complained. In going to dinner with Zacchaeus, Jesus showed his love and dedication to seeking and saving the lost rather than catering to the proud. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, not to fulfill religious demands.

We are sometimes hindered from seeing and experiencing the grace of God. Our sinful condition or worldly wind eclipses the light of God from shining into our lives from time to time. However, when God gives light into our hearts, He leads us to the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

As in verse 8, after meeting Jesus, the tax collector was no longer the same person. He would enter the kingdom of God, but not as a wealthy man. God’s house is a place of prayer, not of business. He would take half of what he owned and give it to the poor. He would find the people he had overcharged on their tax bill and refund four times as much as he had cheated them. 

Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem to face his death when he encounters this man whom we might rightly expect him to rebuke. However, Jesus stops and gives Zacchaeus the honour of staying at his house that night. He responds to this with great joy. When the crowd grumble that Jesus is staying with a sinner, Zacchaeus stands up on his little feet, stretches up as tall as he can, and declares that he will give half his possessions to the poor and repay any deception fourfold. This goes far beyond what Jewish law demands. Jesus declares that “salvation has come to this house” (v. 9).

Zacchaeus seems to have accepted the penalty of the law and applied it to himself more than demands. Acceptance by Jesus made money insignificant. Repentance came in the form of action. Salvation brings repentance and change of lifestyle. He had a new lifestyle because he had a new Lord. He is a transformed witness. This story tells us that the gospel is about commitment to God, but it is also about joy and looking for Jesus. May we take a step toward Jesus as Jesus walks to find us time and again.

Jesus dedicated his earthly ministry to finding people who were lost and showed them God’s way of salvation. His purpose was to bring salvation to lost people. The mission of his followers is to seek and save the lost. Jesus is the one who came in the name of the Lord to bring peace and salvation. May we search for lost people and tell them about the Saviour. 

In today’s text, Jesus seeks not only the lost in general but Zacchaeus in particular. This is one of heavenly initiated divine calls. In the Bible, Jesus sometimes selects individuals from crowds and extends personal invitations to them to become followers. When God calls us, we respond with faith and obedience. May we spread Lord’s salvation and love to our family, friends, and the lost.

Do we need to renew our commitment to the Saviour? May we prepare ourselves in faithfulness and prayer to be ready when the Saviour returns. I hope we can confess Jesus as king of our lives and of the universe. Turning from our sins and confessing Him as our Saviour and Lord bring our lifestyle changes. Zacchaeus is a transformed witness as a new creation. He goes from being a distant observer of Jesus to being a faithful disciple of Christ. 

May we also respond to the Lord through the maturity of our faith and changes in our lives on this Reformation Sunday. I also hope that our faith community will grow in love and faith for each other and become a more beautiful community where we can boast of each other in the Lord.

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials) 

Act Now and Fight the Good Fight of Faith 25-09-2022

25th September 2022 (Pentecost 16)

Sermon Title: Act Now & Fight the Good Fight of Faith

(1 Timothy 6:11-19 & Luke 16:19-31)

                                                                                   By Heeyoung Lim 

26 Korean words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary last year. With these additions, “we are all riding the crest of the Korean wave” the OED says in a statement. Many words come from Korean origin, but several words are new formations or new senses of existing English words. For Instance, the interjection “fighting!” is used to express encouragement, incitement, or support, another way to say, ‘go on!’ or ‘go for it!’ (BBC News, 5 October 2021) It is not about real fights. When a Korean says, “fighting!”, it means, do not give up, you can do it, I believe in you, I will be rooting for you, cheer up, I know you are going to get through it, and so on. The word “Fighting!” is simple, but the meaning is complicated and positive. Today’s text invites us to fight the good fight of faith. 

Paul called Timothy as man of God and told him to flee from all ungodliness. The Christian is to escape from the traps and temptations of money and selfish ambition. We are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. (v.11) These six qualities mark the life of a Christian, but intention and effort are needed. As Hebrew 12: 1-2, we are to run with perseverance fixing our eyes on Jesus. Paul’s list of Christian characteristics closely matches the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22.

Timothy was to pursue personal behaviours, attitudes, and habits which would reflect his companionship with Christ. He was also to fight the good fight of the faith. He was to defend truth as a leader. (v.12) Those who follow Christ are to exhibit God in this world. We do this through our words, deeds, and the good fight of faith. In our lives, our public witness and private disciplines are necessary for the good fight of faith.

Paul told Timothy to take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. The eternal life which believers enter is not limited to a future hope. It is also a present reality. We take hold of this eternal life when we live in the power of God and values of God’s kingdom. We will not experience the fullness of Christ’s reign until Christ returns, but eternal life is still accessible at the present time on earth as a future hope and present reality at the same time. May we live in harmony with God and His Spirit. Eternal life is not reserved for a certain level of people. It is available to all who believe in Jesus and live out the gospel and fight the good fight of faith. True faith cannot be hidden. Timothy testifies that he trusted in Jesus Christ in public. 

Paul said in the sight of God who gives life to everything. God is sovereign over all life. All we exist by God’s mercy and life-giving power. We are cared for by his strength and goodness. The fact that God cares for us brings comfort as well as gratitude. Our lives begin with faith and confession, and they grow in intimate fellowship with Christ. Christ had a calling to reveal God in this world and to provide a way to be saved by holy living, death on the cross, and resurrection. Paul also delivered his command in the sight of Christ Jesus. May we testify Jesus and the love of God in the sight of God and in the sight of Christ. 

Paul extended the charge to Timothy: keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is not a temporary determination but a lifelong pursuit and commitment until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we have a high expectancy of the Lord’s return even though we do not know when. Such a glorious prospect helps to overcome the difficulties as well as the temptations of this life in faith.

Every good thing comes from God, who is generous to all. Through 1 Timothy 6, God invites us to learn personal contentment in all circumstances. Money is one of Paul’s major concerns in this chapter. It sometimes means temptations, disappointments, and destructiveness. However, God leads us to recognize God’s generosity and show it to the world. 

For most people, becoming a Christian does not entail radical changes in occupation, living conditions, salary, or neighbourhood. Christ calls us to extend His kingdom from the place we now live. Contentment, the pursuit of godliness, and living with Christ are foundational to genuine Christian living. Becoming a disciple of Christ does not release a person from obligations or unpleasant conditions. Instead, being a disciple presents us with a higher standard or divine goals in all relationships and circumstances.

The Word of God is sufficient to lead us to salvation and faith growth. No matter what God does, some people do not listen to His Word. In Luke 16, with no transition statement, Luke introduced the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In this parable, a rich man enjoys the most luxurious life possible. His dress and his food set him apart from other people. Lazarus owned nothing, but Jesus honoured him with a name. Lazarus is the only character in Jesus’ parables who is named.

What we know about Lazarus is his name and his need. Lazarus’s empty stomach and life are gnawing at him, and his gaze is set on the household of the rich man, where he hopes only for the leftovers or less. There was a gulf, boundaries, and walls between the two. There was no “going” or “crossing” from the rich man when Lazarus really needed the rich man’s help. Can we break the walls between us and others? Can we cross a gulf between us and God? Who is on the other side of that door?

The poor Lazarus died, one day death also visited the self-righteous and self-centred rich man. There were differences between Lazarus and the rich man as to what happened after death in this story. Lazarus died and went with the angels to heaven, but the rich man did not. Now the situation was reversed. Lazarus received the comfort he had sought for all those years, but the rich man had slipped from the comfortable life to agony. Lazarus gets nothing, but angels carry off the poor man to Abraham’s bosom in this story. God cares for him and leads him to heaven. 

The rich man had the opportunity to do all Jesus had commanded when Lazarus lived on the street beside the rich man’s gate and needed help. He could invite the sick to his banquet table. He could show his generosity in using his material resources for the kingdom of God. He could restore a lost man who was almost dead to life and join in heaven’s joy. He could even sell his possessions to help others. But he did not do anything for Lazarus who was in need. He ignored Lazarus and went about his luxurious life. It was too late. 

The rich man’s life was disobedient living. As in 1 Timothy 6, rich people can do a great deal of good with their resources. If the rich are not to devote themselves to things, then they are to invest themselves in doing good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. Disciple’s life is obedient living. Eternity marks a radical difference in the experience of followers of Jesus and the experience of self-righteous people. 

The pursuit for certainty often becomes an excuse for not acting. We are called to act based not on an absolute certainty in the divine command, but on our faith in Jesus’ words and love. God invites us to act right now to help others and show the love of God. God cares for us. May we act right now for the Lord, share for those who are in need, and fight the good fight of faith. “Fighting!”  

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials) 

God’s Desire for Us 18-09-2022

18th September 2022 (Pentecost 15)

Sermon Title: God’s Desire for Us
(1 Timothy 2:1-7 & Luke 16:1-13)

                                                                                  By Heeyoung Lim 

Paul had just written of the wonderful grace of God exhibited in Christ who came into the world to save sinners and told Timothy that the first order of the church is to pray for all people. In 1 Timothy 2, Paul urges that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone. Everyone includes kings and all who are in high positions. 

This was written during the reign of Nero as emperor of Rome. Knowing that the mission of the church is to spread the truth of Jesus Christ, Paul emphasized the need to pray for those in authority even under his harsh rule. Even under degenerate rule and persecution, the kingdom of God was enlarged in those days. In our own time, we must recognize that corporate prayer is not only a central expression of worship, but a requirement in our daily lives. Regardless of political loyalties or preferences, churches need to pray for national, local, worldwide governmental leaders, and influential people. It is directly or indirectly related to our freedom to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Paul wrote to the Philippians, “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). He urged the Colossians and us, “Devote yourselves to prayer” (Col. 4:2). Prayer is a uniting with God. It is to be entered with joy, respect, and a sense of responsibility. We are engaged in the worldwide mission of glorifying God by praying. The glorification of God is manifested in the spread of the gospel, and people are saved through Jesus Christ. As in verse 4, the desire of God is that all people will be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. 

Certainly, we desire our nation and the world to be peaceful and quiet. It is for the expression of godliness and holiness; it is for Christian witness. God desires order, peace, and holiness in our lives, in our worship, and in our relationships within the church and our communities. This reflects the order, constancy, and righteous character of God. When we live this way, God is revealed, and people will embrace him as Saviour. May we see the community and world, the spread of the gospel, and the salvation of the lost and live in godliness and holiness. 

As we work with Jesus or serve the Lord, the starting point for us is in prayer and full dependence upon God. We are called to pray to God and to depend on God. The full expression of our transformed lives and faith in God pleases God. God is not silent about what pleases Him and glorifies His name. Our faith and transformed lives are used by God who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

As in verse 5, there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Salvation comes through the man Christ Jesus who is fully God and fully man. Jesus is not one among many. He is the One and only and bridges the gap between sinful humanity and the righteous God. He gave himself as a ransom for all men. Christ’s gift to the world was a self-giving sacrifice. Christ is the witness of the Father’s love and God’s desire to bring his creation back to Himself.

Paul knew who he was and his calling. He was an apostle and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. (v.7) May we also know who we are and respond to God’s calling that causes great dynamic and motivation in our lives.

In Luke 16, the parable of the dishonest steward poses significant theological challenges, one of them is the apparent injunction to imitate the unrighteous behaviour of the steward. Today’s text takes another turn in verses 10–12, where the command to renounce the dishonest practices of the steward cancels out the previous order to imitate him. In verse 13, there is a warning about the danger of money as a rival to God.

His goal is to make friends so that when unemployed, someone will take him in. Jesus does not commend the manager’s practices, but rather his insight into the connection between resources and relationships. The problems with the unjust steward are about mammon which is dishonest wealth and the hidden motive of receiving something back from those to whom he gave. His giving was polluted by his greedy desire. Jesus encourages us to imitate the man’s scattering of wealth in order to receive the gift that is beyond return and outside any economy of exchange.

This parable is difficult to read and preach. As in this parable, we need to prove ourselves trustworthy in small tasks before we will be considered capable of greater tasks. As in Luke 16, we must prove ourselves trustworthy with worldly resources before we will be entrusted with God’s resources. The lifestyle of God’s kingdom includes managing worldly goods for God’s willingness. God’s people should use the world’s resources in ways that reflect God’s kingdom’s life and help others. 

May we check to see if we are using worldly resources in worldly ways or kingdom ways. 

Living current life according to God’s purpose today is more important than gathering riches for tomorrow. Many people serve mammon and other masters they are tempted to serve besides Christ. We must choose between being justified in the eyes of people or being justified by God. Do we choose to serve the Lord instead of the worldly value or mammon all the time? God wants us to understand God’s desire and choose kingdom ways. May we testify and share ways we are serving Christ each other as good stewards.

According to a theologian, Helen, today’s text warns that people have lost that eternal perspective of who God is and who we are in relationship to God. Too easily many people separate life as it is now from life in the future kingdom. 

Somewhere in the middle of the faith journey many people stopped living for Christ. They stopped believing that Jesus died and was resurrected, and that life was made new. Somewhere along the way it became easy to serve all those demands of people and money. Somewhere along the way, the vision for God’s call became cloudy. Some people stopped hearing God’s voice and joined the worldly values. Some people forgot about living for something greater, and others buried heavenly treasures. Many people are ignoring Jesus’ warning that it is impossible to serve God and mammon. 

The larger the wealth gap in favour of a few, the more people are impoverished. We should choose to be more conscious in our daily transactions so that we contribute less to the pursuit of wealth for ourselves and others. The service of greed and creation of poverty and at the expense of equality and the justice and love of God are not God’s desires.

This is the crisis that Jesus addresses in his parable. God calls us to reclaim who we are and to renew our vision today for the kingdom of God beyond us and among us. The world values wealth and possessions, while kingdom living obeys God’s Word instead of the world’s worth. We cannot serve God and wealth. We are stewards of God. As good stewards, may we use what we have in light of our eternal relationship with God.

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials) 

The Grace and Joy of Our Lord 11-09-2022

11th September 2022 (Pentecost 14)

Sermon Title: The Grace and Joy of Our Lord
( 1 Timothy 1:12-17 & Luke 15:1-10)

                                                                                  By Heeyoung Lim 

In Luke 15, sinners followed Jesus eagerly, but self-righteous religious leaders constantly mocked Jesus for associating with such sinners.
Pharisees never realize that they are lost! They always count themselves among the saved, even though they have never repented for their sins. Religious leaders are too self-righteous to associate with sinners, but Jesus associated with sinners because he knew they recognized their need of salvation and would respond, bringing joy to heaven.

In today’s text, Jesus told two stories to show what it means to be lost and how a loving Father awaits the sinner to come home and be saved. If we find one missing from one hundred sheep, what are we going to do as a shepherd? Do we leave the ninety-nine to the open field and immediately begin a rescue mission for the lost sheep? Do we have the willingness and passion to search for the sheep late at night with risks? Do we have heavenly parties, celebrations, and joys in our daily lives and ministries? May we find the lost, care for the Lord’s sheep, celebrate and rejoice in the Lord.  

In verses 8-9, a woman had ten silver coins but had lost one of them. She began to thoroughly look through the house, looking into every corner. As she discovers the missing coin, she immediately calls her friends to rejoice together. The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin both end by calling together friends and neighbours to join in the celebration. Indeed, the movement of joy vibrates from the one to the many, from the earth to the heavens. Salvation by faith and grace consists of the rescue from sins and the eternal celebration. 

In 15:10, Jesus repeated the message of verse 7. A repentant sinner brings celebration and joy to heaven, but self-righteous religious people bring no joy to heaven. Heaven is populated with the lost who were found and the sinners who repented. Do our services and ministries God entrusted us bring the same joy and celebration to us? May we follow Jesus’ example and serve everyone, find the lost through being disciples instead of spending our whole life with the righteous or as the self-righteous leaders. 

Are we showing God’s patient love and welcoming grace when people leave and return? May we search for the lost and bring them back to Jesus and share God’s joy whenever repentance or returning is happening. I hope we won’t give up on people when they turn away from God and faith communities. God waits patiently for us in love for the lost to return to Him. May our church rejoice over the lost as they are found and join the heavenly banquet.

God is like the shepherd who values each sheep in the flock, like the woman who accounts for every silver coin in the purse. God treasures every child of the family. When one goes missing, God goes into searching. God is love, and love looks like one who goes out tirelessly searching. When one in our faith community goes missing or is in pain, we are all affected or suffered. When one is restored or returned, we are all better off for it. In Christ, we are the extended family of God. Until the lost returns, the community is incomplete.

The parables are about a hospitality that seeks to restore. These parables call the community to open its doors and rejoice. When the lost has returned home and sits in the presence of God, may we rejoice in the Lord and be glad in Christ!

We rejoice in the Lord with a spirit of love, hope, faith, and peace that leads us to deeper discipleship communities and spirituality. May the joyful celebration of finding those who were lost and have returned to Jesus continue in our lives and ministries abundantly. God has shown mercy to all of us, and Christ came to save sinners. As in Rome 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Paul opposed the work of God, was disrespectful of Christ, and harassed the people of God. He imprisoned people for their faith in Christ, witnessed persecution at the stoning of Stephen, and tried to destroy the church.  Even so, he was shown mercy. In a dramatic encounter with the living Christ, Paul was rescued from his unbelief and saved from his rebellion. (Acts 9) 

Reminding of how he lived before his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, his rescue from sin can be attributed to the overflowing grace of God. The grace of our Lord was poured out on him abundantly. In Acts 9:15, God clearly called him: “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel”. He was appointed by God.

Paul and Timothy had to deal with the false teachers in those days. In today’s text, Paul began his testimony by turning attention to Christ and expressed his thankfulness: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength. Whatever Paul was able to become an exemplary Christian life was because of Christ Jesus. Paul had an amazing life of powerful ministry for God. He knew that God was the giver of power and strength, and it was because of God from start to finish.

Paul continued to express his gratitude: God considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Paul had demonstrated faithfulness throughout his ministry, and in God’s economy and providence this resulted in greater ministry and responsibility.

In verse 13, looking back at his life, he described himself prior to his conversion as a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man. The more we understand grace and God’s goodness, the more we are aware of our own sinfulness.

Paul confessed that God’s mercy and the Lord’s unlimited patience were shown in me, the worst of sinners. He was forgiven and transformed. His persecution of the church made Paul the perfect example of God’s mercy. Paul was a sinner in need of grace. He was not only saved; he was changed, receiving the abundance of faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The flood from God’s grace and joy brings forth faith and love. All are gifts of God and the evidence of those who are captured by the grace of the Lord.

People may claim to know God, but the truth will be revealed by their faith and love. Paul’s words matched his life; his manner corresponded with the truth. When our character and lifestyle harmonize with our faith, we become a powerful example of God’s truth and reality. Paul was an example to all believers, and specifically to Timothy and church leaders, of how life and words must complement each other. May we become the exemplary of God’s mercy, love, and faithfulness to those we live with and meet along life’s way.

Do we share God’s feelings of love, pity, and care for the lost in our daily lives? I believe the results of our graceful discipleship journey will flood heaven with joy. Having recounted God’s grace, love, and faithfulness toward himself and all believers, Paul then burst into praise with Joy. He praised the Lord as the only God and the King eternal and incomparable. May we also burst into praise with joy. 

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials) 

The Cost of Discipleship 04-09-2022

4th September 2022 (Pentecost 13)
Father’s Day / the Season of Creation / Child Safe Sunday

Sermon Title: The Cost of Discipleship 

(Philemon 1:16 – 20 & Luke 14:25 – 33)

                                                                                  By Heeyoung Lim 

The more Jesus isolated the Jewish leaders, the larger the crowds who followed. Jesus taught the crowds as well as his disciples. The crowds sought and accompanied Jesus, but they did not follow Him. The main differences between the crowds and disciples are the cost and sacrifice. Following Jesus sometimes isolates and separates us from those closest or things familiar to us. Dedication to Jesus means rejection of self-interest and personal preference.

Discipleship is not a hasty decision or temporary commitment; it is a full-time commitment. Being a father, a mother, a family, and disciples are life-long commitments. Dedication to God has no limits and accompanies cost and sacrifice. Following Jesus is a lifelong commitment and determination and the road that leads to the cross or sacrifice. Cross bearing means total sacrifice of everything. Discipleship is never cheap or easy, but may we prioritize Jesus more than anything.

Have you ever paused and counted the cost of discipleship? In today’s text, becoming a disciple is like starting a building project. We must budget for it and see that we can finish it. No one wants a half-finished building. Christians should not turn back when they are halfway in their discipleship journey. Rather, we need to count the cost, be ready to pay the cost, and take up our cross. May we accomplish the race of discipleship journey together instead of returning to a place where we start or walking into where worldly values lead.

We might meet those who rejected and made fun of us. In verses 31 and 32, Jesus explains discipleship through fighting and battle. Jesus taught us how to prepare, build, and fight as disciples. Christian faith requires an enduring obedience from beginning to end. May we be ready to fight and win against something else that interrupts a disciple’s journey.

In today’s text, Jesus uses strong language to make clear the high cost of discipleship. It must be total dedication that moves from wish to careful deliberation and decision making. It cannot be done on impulse, because Jesus knows that the cross emerges before His followers. 

Being disciples accompanies the cost and determination. This term for “cost” appears only once in the New Testament here. Cost is what we give up to acquire, accomplish, maintain, or produce something. It involves a measure of sacrifice and perhaps loss or penalty in gaining something. Cost requires effort and resources.

As disciples, when accepting and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, we can see the power of Jesus’ call and the commitment as hearers and doers of the word. Discipleship is a process and takes time and involves both failures and successes. May we grow in our faith journeys and live the holiness that resides in each of us. As disciples, may we learn to face life’s challenges and joys with a spirit of love, hope, faith, and peace that leads us to a deeper spirituality. 

Today’s text invites us to engage in that deep process of reflection that discipleship demands of us, to explore whether we are being followers or if we are measuring our lives by human yardsticks. At the heart of discipleship is transformation, and the cost is engaging in a radical shift and faith growth. The cost of discipleship also includes salvation and entering an intimate relationship with God in Christ that teaches us that obedience to God is not blind. The cost will lead to changes in relationships and faith development. 

That change is well illustrated in Philemon. Paul offered something for Philemon to think about. Paul did not intend to minimize Onesimus’s past wrongs and acknowledged the debt Onesimus owed Philemon. Paul expressed his appreciation and love for Onesimus. “Onesimus is no longer as a slave, but as beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” Paul told Philemon to welcome him as you would welcome me. 

In today’s text, Paul went on to say, “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.” Paul did not neglect obligations and relationships. Instead, he worked to resolve problems. He was ready to assume the debt and said, “I will pay it back”.

The treachery of Onesimus was refashioned by God’s hand and shaped into a blessing for Onesimus, Philemon, Paul, and the countless numbers who benefited from their ministries. Onesimus may have run away, but God’s grace ran with him. Philemon may have lost a possession, but God’s grace further enriched him and proved that God works for the good of those who love and serve him. God’s sovereign authority converts bad situations into good situations.

Onesimus was changed, and Philemon would find him valuable as a person, as a worker, as a friend, but also as a spiritual brother, a man with whom he found the deeper communion before the Lord. In these changed relationships, nothing would ever be the same. I believe that we will be transformed in Christ as a spiritual family and be reshaped by God as a renewed community.

The lawless acts of Onesimus were used by God to bring about his salvation and the maturity of Philemon. God’s grace works through all human affairs. We all belong to Christ. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these people of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40). The Father accepts us as he accepts the Son, because we are followers and co-workers of Christ through faith. 

Here Paul identified with the accused and acted as the Christ-figure. However, like all of us before God, Onesimus cannot pay his debt. So, Paul accepted it as his own just as Christ did for all humankind upon the cross. He wanted Philemon to recall the great debt that Christ paid on his behalf and the new life to which Paul had introduced him when Philemon trusted the Saviour.

Christ has paid our debt in full, freeing us to serve in his kingdom with love, grace, and gratitude. We are called to be Jesus’ disciples. May we be ready to pay the cost in following Jesus and take up our cross in our discipleship journey. The call to discipleship is a gift of grace and that call is inseparable from grace. May we respond to Jesus’ call to costly discipleship and experience a new lease on life.

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials) 

God’s Hospitality 28-08-2022

28th August 2022 (Pentecost 12)
Sermon Title: God’s Hospitality
(Psalm 81:1, 10–16 & Luke 14:1, 7–14

                                                                                      By Heeyoung Lim 

After Jesus challenges the rules about healing on the Sabbath, he challenges the way people exalt themselves and then gives instructions about who to invite to a banquet. (v. 7-11)

In Jesus’ time, dinners were not just meals but social events that bonded people of similar status together. People could find out who had been invited before accepting an invitation and expected to eat with their social equals. In people’s perspectives, if the “wrong” people would be invited, many potential guests made excuses and declined the invitation. Some people declined the invitation if they felt that they could not give back the hospitality. The seating arrangement was crucial to them and offering less was shameful to the host in those times. 

In this Bible story, the original hosts are the upper-class Jews who were so tied to their social status and ignored God. God rejected them and turned to the ones they looked down to find adequate guests for the heavenly banquet. We cannot say that their places have been reserved in the heavenly feast. Their attitude can cause them to miss God’s final heavenly banquet, or they would never participate in His banquet due to their worldly values. May we care more for others’ needs than for our own desires and reputation. Jesus wants us to participate in a glorious banquet through faith, hope, and loving hospitality. 

In accordance with Jesus’ parable based on what was happening in the banquet, if we try to gain honour for ourselves, we will be humiliated. But if we are humble, then we will receive great honour. May we act with humility, not pride, in every situation, looking at Jesus. Jesus wants us to invite those who are unable to pay us back and to find the names of the poor, the injured, and the needy. Everyone deserves an invitation to a loving table. However, no one ever honours them with a dinner in those days. May we reverse the world’s way and invite those who are in need to our banquet.

In verse 14, Jesus continued. “Instead, you are doing this for God. When you do things his way, He repays you.” I believe that eternal glory will be given to us if we believe in Jesus and share God’s hospitality here. God will give you His heavenly blessings, and you will be rewarded by God. May we not limit God’s hospitality in our lives.

God asks us to live in the culture of the kingdom of God through our everyday acts toward each other and in and through our relationship with God and creation. In the relationship with God’s creation, we are responsible for climate change action in our lives, I believe that we are striving to do climate action in our daily lives, doing our best to protect and take good care of God’s creation. May we receive more heavenly blessing that invites us to grow into a deeper relationship with God and others. Jesus wants us to understand that our all-human drive to seek the best seat in a place is not genuine participation in God’s mercy or love.

Many Christians want to be a blessing to others, but being a blessing is not easy. Instead, sharing blessings with others or displaying the blessings we have received is relatively easier than being a blessing. Jesus is highlighting the ways in which the realm of God establishes its own social and spiritual order.

Jesus uses this occasion to describe the reign of God. There are reversals in the gospel of Luke. God’s reign is not about measuring up but about being invited by God. Jesus tells the host to invite people of low social status who cannot reciprocate the invitation. He also teaches the host to invite those who could not possibly return the favour. The reign of God is marked by true generosity, like the generosity God pours out on all. Although we cannot even begin to repay God’s hospitality, may we respond to God’s compassion and mercy in our daily living.

In Psalm 81, Asaph calls God’s people to rejoice in God who has blessed them, to remember their past deliverance by the Lord, and to repent as to they do not appreciate His blessings. (1) Asaph urged the people, “Sing for joy to God our strength”. Just as God had provided for them earlier in their wilderness wanderings. He said and promised, “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it”. God’s hospitality is unlimited, and He wants to fill us with his blessings and tells us to open our mouth wide.

In contrast to the gracious works of God, Israel was stubborn and would not listen to him. Verses 10–16 contrasts God’s gracious hospitality with the people’s rebelliousness and unwillingness to listen. In verse 16, God’s hospitality needs to be read through the lens of the Exodus. The people grumbled in the wilderness, demanding proof of God’s presence. God generously fed them manna, and water flowed from the rock when they wanted water. (Exodus 16 &17) In Psalm 81, God the host goes beyond the people’s request or demands, and they are promised by God the finest wheat and honey from the rock. God’s covenant is the foundation of the blessing that frames righteous living, and our salvation through Jesus is based on God’s hospitality. 

In Luke’s gospel, Christ calls us to set such an open table, to invite all people to experience life shaped by God’s inclusive and compassionate love. What does it mean to be invited to live in God’s reign? We are invited not because of what we have or what we do for a living, but simply because we are God’s children by our faith. In what ways do our lives demonstrate our response to this invitation?

Jesus’ words about exalting and humbling and being invited can lead us to be humbler and to let us to walk into the place of the lowest. May we extend genuine hospitality to the least of the uninvited through acts of unselfish hospitality and kindness and to be true blessings to others in the love of God. Jesus himself shows humbleness, and God calls us to serve the needy. Personal humility marks the person who is dedicated to God. May we trust God to provide our needs now and our rewards later and look for rewards from God, not from people on the earth.

We are the holders of God’s love and grace with the power to welcome and extend God’s gifts to those outside the church. We are also both the receivers and the givers of God’s love. May we share God’s gifts with those gathered here and those outside. Through ritual, prayers, and the celebration of Communion, may we pray that all encounter the boundlessness of God’s reign.

God brings and invites different people together and lets them overcome cultural and generational differences and all kinds of barriers in Christ. We are called by God to be an authentic community when Jesus depicts the culture of God’s kingdom and paints a picture of an open table where all are invited and where there is enough for all. God’s hospitality is unlimited, and He wants to fill us with his blessings. The kingdom of God belongs to those who are humbly dedicated to him. Dedication to Jesus and the kingdom of God reveals life that reverses the world’s values, shows persistent obedience to Christ, and testify confident hope in the resurrection. May we make participation in God’s kingdom our desire.

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)