Fifth Sunday After Epiphany,
Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12), Psalm 112:1-9 (10), 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16), Matthew 5:13-20
“You are the salt of the Earth. You are the light of the world.” This is a well-known teaching of Jesus, but read in the context of the other readings, we might find it
a bit of a challenge.
This week, the Isaiah passage brings up a common theme which echoes through many of the prophets – God says, “You worship me with words, but sin against me in your actions.” Justice, compassion, grace and sacrificial giving are the marks of good worship. But “if salt loses its saltiness, it’s worthless.”
If our religion does not shine before others because they see our good works, then we are exhibiting hypocrisy. Here is a challenge to explore our “worship” and see if it leads us towards, and is matched by, love and good deeds.
What does it really mean to be spiritual in the light of Christ’s teaching and example? Worth pondering.
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost,
Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 119:1-8, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37
In the readings this week, Paul writes about how he fed the Corinthians with spiritual milk as they were spiritual “infants in Christ,” not ready for “solid food.” Perhaps we are not much different in the Church today. We tend to see things too simply. Like the fledgling nation of Israel, we often see things as either/or. Life and faith are presented as life and prosperity versus death and adversity, blessings versus curses.
However, the reality of a mature faith and spirituality is that the life we have in God is full of both good and bad. Faith is there to nourish us, but not in the safety of a spiritual nursery. We are called into the world and we need faith and blessings of God to prosper God’s work, as we deal with harsh realities of life. But the gospel leads us on to the way of the cross; not a fairy-tale happily ever after, but the hard work of following Jesus who teaches us hard truths. These open up hope, peace, joy and love in real and meaningful ways, not just for us, but for the world through sacrificial grace and love.
Seventh Sunday After Epiphany,
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 Psalm 119:33-40, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23, Matthew 5:38-48
“Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.” (Psalm 119:34)
How hard it is to follow Jesus and work with him in bringing in the Commonwealth of God? Since the time of Moses, the people of God have struggled to live as commanded, and we still struggle. Two thirds of the way through the second month of a new year, maybe we are being called to revise our resolution list and check that we are on track.
Scan through the readings for this week and make a list of all the things that just these passages set before us as things we should be doing as followers of God in Christ, who calls us to, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Now, take that list, get a group of friends in Jesus, and plan out how you are going to do that — and also keep each other accountable for your progress.
Transfiguration of Jesus,
Exodus 24:12-18, Psalm 2 or Psalm 99 2 peter 1:16-21, Matthew 17:1-9
Who is Jesus for you? How have you experienced him in your life? Moses, Peter, James and John had special revelatory experiences of God in person. The disciples walked and lived with Jesus. However, many of us are not lucky enough to be blessed in such a way. So, how do we know Jesus? What is our experience of the Christ, for we are called to share the God in Christ who we know, not just know about.
We might glory in the “mountain top” experiences, but as we prepare to enter Lent, we perhaps need to be reminded that the power of God in Christ came into the world in the birth of a baby who lived for around 30 years, building understanding and compassion, before embarking on his world-changing ministry fulfiled through his life, teachings, example — and his suffering, death and resurrection.
It is this Christ who taught about knowing the king through serving the poor, imprisoned, naked and hungry, not only in words but in deeds. It is this Jesus, and through fleeting moments of glory, we get to know God is truly with us as we seek to follow and proclaim him.
The February and March Lectionary Reflections have been written by Rev. Jon Humphries, Chaplain at Ravenswood School for Girls.