Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany, Year A
Preface: We highly recommend that you navigate here http://www.mp3rocket.com/mp3/-1_00/Sweet-Honey-in-the-Rock-Beatitudes.htm and listen to Sweet Honey in the Rock while you read this week...
Micah 6:1-8 • Psalm 15 • 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 • Matthew 5:1-12
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God?
If you love me, feed my sheep.
Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
We swim in a faith with a simple premise: because God first loved us, we are called to love one another.
But somehow, the noise in the world around us drowns that out. Our to do lists surely have more than one simple item - love others. In general, we measure our life's value on things far from the number of people we love. And even if we have our eye on that priority, the world conspires to drive it further down the list.
Our readings for this week ground us in the things that matter most.
The prophet Micah lived amidst great political unrest - kings sought to gain power through the acquisition of territories. Time and effort are dedicated to fortifications, supply stores, military prowess and power. And the widow and the orphan suffer. Micah is a fan of the tradition of Moses, and he calls the people out - religiosity is empty without social justice. He reminds the people of what God has done...and God isn't seeking a new temple, a new territory...all the Lord requires is that we do justice (notice, DO justice - not just talk about it), love kindness and walk humbly with our God.
Similarly, the Psalmist recalls some really simple, basic ways of sharing existence with our fellow human.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is troubled by some brewing divisions in the community. The first line of this week's reading reflects on the meaning of the cross. In the Roman society of Christ's crucifixion, the cross was a way of defeating someone, of breaking their will and of making them an example to the down-trodden. But here, Paul really recalls Jesus's obedience as an act of Love poured out for others..."God chose what is low and despised in the world...to reduce to nothing things that are..." Perhaps in this community, people are focused on things that don't really matter - what is different between them rather than how they can simply love one another.
Finally, after launching a ministry of teaching and healing, Jesus gathers a crowd for a teaching that many know well. You can probably imagine the gathered hearing this message that turned the world of their daily lives and expectations on its ear. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted and you when you are reviled and persecuted... Really? We thought we were blessed by our house and our car and our checking account and our meaningful jobs. Sure we're blessed by family and friends, but we feel awfully blessed by the wealth and privilege of our freedom, our education, our consumption. This "sermon" continues through a lot of important messages - being salt and light, reinterpretations of the Law how to pray. It is a base teaching in being simple, obedient and loving
Just in case you made a bunch of resolutions to do and be and get at the New Year, this might be a refreshing week of simplification. God loves you. Love one another.
God, I want to believe that you love me.
I want to love others.
God, I want to trust that you love me.
I try to love others.
God, so often I don't believe I can be loved.
I cannot love others.
God, I feel I need to earn your love.
Why should I love others?
God, I want to accept your love.
I want to love me.
I want to love You.
I want to love others.
I love you God.
Thank you for loving me.
© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world;
we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words.
May Grace & Peace be with you.