February – Loving kindness, walking humbly
How might we, in our ordinary lives, announce that God is among us? It starts with loving and giving thanks for the ordinary and simple around us.
2 February, Epiphany 4, MATTHEW 5:1-12
Barbara Brown Taylor in her book An Alter in the World describes an event where she saw a group of people act out each of the blessed statements of the Beatitudes. She describes how some of these stir within her a new understanding, a new way of reading, especially a theatrical interpretation of those who mourn. How might your community, how might you seek to understand in a new way the beatitudes this week? How might you seek to live them out, or learn from them anew? How do we see them coming to fulfillment among us? As we seek to find Christ in our world and signs of God with us, I wonder if we are being pointed toward those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who are meek, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful, who are pure in heart, who are peacemakers, who are persecuted for righteousness and who are reviled and persecuted. And how might we respond? Micah 6 falls into our reading list this week… the start of an answer might start with doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly.
9 February, Epiphany 5, MATTHEW 5:13-20
Each new context, generation and time should be asking how we might reveal Jesus today. At the core of our lessons, our stories, our gathering is that which preserves and that which contributes to our thriving. For saltiness flavours and reshapes a bland meal, but is commonly found and is only an ordinary spice. But after you have added it to your pasta you might wonder how you ever ate pasta without it before!? In the same way, after a long night of the soul, or even too long spent inside, we come out to see at first the blinding light of day, where shadows once unreachable start to become yesterday’s fears and new possibilities start to erupt. How might we lift our eyes up from our own situation, our own naval gazing, our own pondering to share this salt and light with the world? How might we step back into the core of simple and ordinary symbols? I think that it starts with loving and giving thanks for the ordinary and simple around us, loving them, loving it, extravagantly to life.
16 February, Epiphany 6, MATTHEW 5:21-37
In many of the commentaries that I have read about this continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, I have heard and read that it is important not to see this scripture as a correction or replacement of the Hebrew Bible, but rather a continuity of it. For this text, like many others have been used in an attitude of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism and this is an especially unforgiving road to start to wonder down. For us as we read this text a more helpful paradigm to seek would be in breaking down the reading and asking what is Jesus saying to us about our relationships with others and ourselves in reconciliation (vv.21-26), adultery (vv.27-30), divorce (vv.31-32) and swearing (vv.33-37). How might our ways of loving and learning how to love one another be shaped by these teachings? How might our way of living out in community Christ’s call to follow be influenced? There is no one answer, even in this very short account, so don’t start with the Truth, maybe start with your truths, and listen for the truth in others.
23 february, Transfiguration of Jesus. MATTHEW 17:1-9
We move from Ordinary time, back into an extraordinary moment. I am not sure how to scientifically reflect, or how we can normalise this story of a Jesus who is metamorphosised, transfigured, made to glow! The revelation of Jesus with us, takes on yet another paradigm when the ordinary human is transformed. I marvel and reflect on ordinary moments where somehow an ordinary moment is made extraordinary. It is made to glow in my mind, to beam or to warm me up from the cold and indifference that sometimes sets in. I am reminded, God is here!
26 February, Ash Wednesday, MATTHEW 6:1-6, 16-21
Today we might be marked with Ash, reminding us of our origin stories and the story of our end. We might take time to remember, the Advent and Epiphany, the ordinary and the divine which has found its way to live side by side. And now we enter back into the time of watching and waiting of being present to another layered and complex journey toward the cross. Matthew provides us with instructions to live by throughout this time, giving to the needy, praying, fasting and instruction about treasures on earth. Maybe you are the person who could put these on a post it note near your computer as you start your Lenten wondering, or maybe you have another plan to explore this season more deeply. As you are marked with Ash by simply being human it is impossible to escape the mere fact that you will live and you will die, we might remember the hope that even after the last candle is extinguished, resurrection will follow.
These reflections were prepared by Rev. James Aaron, Minister at North Ryde Community Uniting Church