Leftover people: Sermon for the Kirking of the Council, 11 September 2016

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 1.15-18 (not Lectionary)

Luke 15:1-10

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

At the beginning of today’s Bible reading, Jesus of Nazareth is in trouble. This happened to Jesus a lot. Again and again, he went against people’s expectations, and this upset some of them.

Luke tells us that, ‘all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him’. Tax collectors were not popular in a country under Roman occupation. Sinners were those who were thought to have broken moral and religious rules.

This causes ‘the Pharisees and the scribes’ to grumble. These are the respectable, those who think of themselves as very religious and moral. Nowadays they might be called ‘role-models’, to show the rest of us how to live. Admired by most people, they have a high opinion of themselves, for they are the kind of people who usually think they are right. And they believe that they have God on their side.

So they grumble: ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them’. They think that Jesus is attracting the wrong crowd. How can Jesus be a respected religious teacher, if his audience attracts people who are pretty irreligious? As the Pharisees and the scribes see it, there must be something wrong with a religious teacher who attracts the outcasts, the scum, the dregs of society, the irreligious, the immoral.

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