Pentecost 21, Oct 30, 2022(full size gallery)
2022 Sun Oct 30
From the Bishop’s Blog
“You know the story. Zacchaeus, “chief tax collector and rich”, hears Jesus is coming to town. He goes to see if he can get a glimpse of him but the crowd is dense and he is short. He climbs a sycamore tree to see above the crowd. Jesus sees him, goes to the tree and tells Zacchaeus that he wants to have dinner with him. At dinner Zacchaeus appears to have a great conversion and promises to give half his wealth to the poor and if any are defrauded he will repay them back four times as much. But, and here’s the key, some linguists say the text should not be, “I will do this” but, “I already do this.” Zacchaeus is telling Jesus he already gives half his possessions to the poor. He already repays defrauded people four times what they are owed. In other words, he is a good man. But he is still unhappy. There is still something missing. There is an emptiness in the middle of his soul.
And that is true for all of us. We are built with an inner emptiness and we try to fill it in so many ways. Some of those ways might be self-destructive. Some of those ways might be good – like giving half of what we have to the poor. But nothing will ever fill that hole except a relationship with the Living God. That is why Jesus can say to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Now Zacchaeus is connected to the source of all life.
Theologians have expressed this in many ways through the years. St. Augustine wrote, “my heart is restless until it rests in You.
We are saved by relationship with the Living God. Forever. The emptiness is addressed when we find our sycamore tree, that place that allows us to see and meet God. For some of us that place might be our local church.
Who is Zacchaeus? His name is a form of Zechariah, which means righteous one. We find him only in Luke’s Gospel account, and then only in Luke 19. We are able to understand that he at least heard about Jesus, if he hadn’t already met him. He is a short man, and, because he cannot …
Who in here likes donuts? I’d never given serious thought before to how doughnuts ended up having a hole in the middle, but according to Bishop Douglas Fisher from The Diocese of Western Massachusetts, donuts date way back to Ireland and early Christian traditions there.
For the Irish Christians, All Saints’ Day was a day on which prayers for all the saints were offered, and people had a feast to celebrate the day. But many people in Ireland were too poor to put enough food on the table for their feast, and so the night before,on All Hollow’s Eve, they’d go out and knock on the doors of houses and beg for food. As time went on, this practice evolved, and the beggars at the doors would promise to offer prayers for the dead on All Saints ‘Day in exchange for food.
One woman wondered to herself—“Are these people I’m giving food to really remembering to pray for my dead relatives?” So she decided to start giving those who knocked on her door cakes with a hole in the middle. The person eating the cake would get to the hole in the middle of the cake and remember to pray for the deceased.
And so the donut was born.
Who knows whether or not this is really how donuts came to be, but that’s a good story.
Bishop Fisher connects this Halloween story of the donut to what happens in the story about Jesus and Zacchaeus.
I. Theme – Seeking Transformation in our encounters with God.
"Zacchaeus" – Joel Whitehead
The lectionary readings are here or individually:
Today’s readings explore the transformation that follows our encounters with God. Isaiah warns against empty religiosity and brings God’s promise of cleansing and purity. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul encourages steady faith that waits quietly for the transformation brought by Christ. In the gospel story, Jesus grants salvation to a wealthy man who responds to Jesus with repentance and generosity.
These stories look at how we worship. Do we celebrate internally forgetting the outside world and the needs of the world which Isaiah complained about ? Also we need to look at hospitality. Isaiah renames Jerusalem as Sodom and Gomorrah. Was it their inhospitality that earned the people of Jerusalem this insult? In Thessalonians the people have reacted incorrect to promises of Jesus second coming and have created problems in the church. Paul asks for their “steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.
Luke would have us look at the notions or hospitality, redemption, and inclusion. It is Jesus who demands hospitality, and it is Zacchaeus who gives it. Here the hospitality gives place to salvation and redemption, “Today salvation for this house has happened.”
Thus it is not riches that distinguish, nor is it poverty. It is the inviting in, it is the acceptance of “what I must do” as a sinner, a poor person, a wealthy person, or a person striving for righteousness, that sets the tone and the agenda. Jesus not only welcomes, but also is welcomed in. This dual standard is Luke’s call to his hearers to imitate Christ.
In the readings there is a call for the people to understand their sins, to acknowledge them and be forgiven which is part of the Psalms. Zacchaeus certainly does and decides he will live a changed life – give half his goods to the poor and to recompense generously those he might have defrauded/
1. Introduction to Youth Sunday (5th Sundays)
2. Hymn Offertory – King of Glory
Zacchaeus the tax collector is not the ancient equivalent of modern day IRS or Canada Revenue Agency employees. He was not a civil servant. Ancient Roman tax collectors were individuals who bid for the right to collect taxes in a certain geographic area. This bid represented the tax Rome expected from a given geographic area. The tax collector would then collect funds to pay himself back. Any amount collected above that amount was pure profit, with few limitations. So they not only represented the Roman occupation, but they also profited through abusing and defrauding others.
But Jesus came to bring salvation to all, even the hated tax collector. Through Jesus, this one tax collector, Zacchaeus, experiences a remarkable moment of redemption. Jesus calls him out of the tree he had climbed. Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’s home, and Zacchaeus is transformed. He immediately offers to give away half of what he has to the poor, and to repay anyone he has defrauded by a factor of four.
“Zacchaeus thought that gratitude was a political structure of benefactors and beneficiaries that he could manipulate for his own benefit. Then Jesus called him down from that tree and invited him to a table. “Stop climbing, Zacchaeus. Come and sit.” Whereas Rome practiced gratitude as a hierarchy of political and economic obligation, of debt and duty, Jesus envisioned gratitude as hospitality of mutuality and relationship, of gift and response. Jesus opened the door for Zacchaeus to “come down” from his old life, to stop participating in a corrupt system of gratitude that oppressed his own people. In a moment, Jesus turned his world upside down: Who was the guest and who was the host? The Roman structure of gratitude collapsed when assigned roles disappeared and the conventional gifts of hospitality could not be repaid. Instead, Jesus imagined a place where oppressed and oppressor leave their “stations” and meet as friends, where forgiveness is practiced and gratitude expresses itself not in debt payment but in passing on generous gifts to others.
“At the end of the story, Jesus explains that he did this because “the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to deliver those ensnared in the punishment and privilege of gratitude and to set them free from quid pro quo patronage. In its place, he established a table of hospitality where all are guests and no one owes anything to anyone else. Around this table, gifts pass without regard to payback or debt. Everyone sits. Everyone eats. And, recognizing that everything is a gift, all are grateful. Tree or table? Climbing to get ahead or reclining with friends? Choose. What you choose results in either slavery or abundance.
Those lovely yellows in fall
Oct. 30, 11:00am – Holy Eucharist, Pentecost 21, Zacchaeus
This Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, was Youth Sunday (every 5th Sunday) reflected in the prayers with a prayer on youth and in the sermon on Zacchaeus. We had about 10 youth present out of a congregation of 26. It was a beautiful Sunday with the trees moving to a matured fall. Fall was all around us – in the church in the graveyards, in the trees, and on the river