Monday, January 27, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

Readings for Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany, 2/2/14:
Micah 6:1-8, Psalm 15, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Matthew 5:1-12

Micah 6:1-8:
  • This is a passage that I think makes a lot of people's favorite scripture list. And with good reason. Good stuff here. I'm stuck on the word "require" in verse 8. I don't know Hebrew - I only got around to Greek in school. But require - that's a strong word. We're not recommended to do these things. We're required. What else are you required to do? How do you treat these requirements, as opposed to those God sets out for us?
  • another good word in this passage - "the controversy of the Lord" - what a label! Who would want to be called God's controversy?
  • another passage (like Psalm 51, among others) where the author recognizes that it is not the acts of sacrifice and ritual themselves God desires, but the devoted hearts that bring such things to God. God wants us.
  • do justice, love kindness, walk humbly. What would happen if everything we did as a church was based on, or could be tied to one of these three things? Probably, anything that doesn't fall into one of those commands is something we should examine more carefully!
Psalm 15:
  • Who may dwell with God? Those who are blameless. Eek! If that is the extent of the list, we're in trouble. But the psalmist gives us quite a list to which to aspire: do what is right. speak the truth. do not slander. do not do evil. do not reproach. do not lend at interest. do not take a bribe.
  • On the other hand, as much as we think it is quite a list, why is it so hard to measure up to those requirements? Is it so hard to love? We so desire to be loved. Why is it so hard to love others?
1 Corinthians 1:18-31:
  • "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing..." This verse is repeated from last week's reading. I don't know what to make of this verse, because I too often see it used as a "Jesus is the only way, see?" tool. But let's revamp it. An instrument of weakness is made into an instrument of power. That is what God does to things. Gives them a whole new life, and a whole new meaning.
  •  That theme carries into the whole passage - God doesn't just change meanings of things around, but meanings of people. We're flipped inside out by this 'foolishness' of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 5:1-12:
  • Wow - the Beatitudes and Micah 6:8 in one Sunday? I’m always conflicted when there are multiple really great passages on the same Sunday. Which to preach on?
  • Another conflict: Do you prefer Matthew or Luke’s recording of the Beatitudes? In Luke 6, Jesus gives the “blessings and woes” which are very tangible. Blessed are you who hunger for you will be filled. The implication is of physical hunger. Matthew gives a spiritual spin to everything from Jesus’ lips: blessed are the poor in spirit, those hungry for righteousness. Some people prefer Luke’s straightforward attention through Jesus’ words to tangible needs. Personally, I’m glad they are recorded in two different ways. We need both!
  • In a way, Matthew almost gives us here another set of spiritual gifts: Mercy. Peacemaker. Spirit.
  • Most of these make sense to me: the one who is making peace is God's child. The meek inherit, those seeking righteousness are filled. But what about the poor-in-spirit part? What do you think is meant by being poor in spirit? Is this someone who is dejected/depressed? Someone who has lost their way, turned from God, rejected God? What's going on with your soul that you would classify as being "poor in spirit?" 
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