Showing posts from February, 2011

Reflections on Matthew 5 - End of the Series

During the season of Epiphany our Gospel lessons have all come from the 5 th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, which is the opening portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.   This famous, beautiful and difficult chapter begins with the Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.   Matthew 5:1-9 While there is a temptation for us to interpret these as conditions – IF you are poor in spirit, meek, mourning, pure in heart, etc., THEN you will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven – it is important to see these introductory verses as laying out the foundation of the rest

Rules and Relationships – Reflections on Matthew 5:21-37

Read this text here: Matthew 5:21-37 Rules and Relationships – Reflections on Matthew 5:21-37 You are blessed, you are salt, you are light! What a wonderful way to start a sermon.   Perhaps at this point you have relaxed and feel affirmed and maybe even a little complacent.   Well, what Jesus says next should shake us all out of any sense of complacency and self-righteousness: Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 5:20 And then Jesus goes into a long series of examples: anger = murder; lust = adultery; divorce = adultery; swearing will get you into hell and so on; if you sin with your hand – cut it off and throw it away; if you sin with your eye – pluck it out and throw it away!   Wow!   Jesus seems so uncompromising here.   What happened to the sermon of grace?   How do we come to grips with a sense of the grace of God as shown in the life and ministry of Jesus and these harsh words? There are

Reflections on the Gospel – “Salt and Light” – Matthew 5:13-20

Read the Gospel text here:  St. Matthew 5:13-20 You are the salt of the earth… Two weeks ago our lectionary began a series of Gospel readings which give us the opportunity to consider Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.”  The sermon begins with a series of blessings: those who are poor, mourning, merciful, pure in heart, etc. are blessed!  These are not the kinds of people who our society tends to honor.  Nevertheless, Jesus says they are honored by God!  They are those who make up the Kingdom of Heaven.  And in our lesson today, Jesus goes further – they are salt; they are light.  Actually – “they” are you – and YOU are salt and light! This weekend I am going to focus on salt, since over the last month or so there has been a lot of focus on light and darkness in our lessons.  There is much that can be said about salt.  Most, importantly, it is essential for life.  Salt was a central part of the lives of people in the 1 st century.  There were major salt deposits in Palestine, salt mi

“Standing on Tiptoe” – Reflections on the Gospel - St. Luke 2:22-40

This weekend we are celebrating one of my favorite Festivals - the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord - which I moved from February 2 to the weekend.  Here is a description of the Festival, which will appear in our bulletin for the weekend.  It is written by Pr. Thomas Weitzel: This morning we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the temple at Jerusalem. Ancient Jewish law required that, following the birth of a firstborn male child, the mother must come to the temple after 40 days for purification and for presentation of the child to the Lord. The presentation of Mary's child, however, was different from most. This was the Christ Child, Jesus, the Savior, the Messiah who had been promised.   And he was recognized as such by the old prophet Simeon, who knew that this child was a light for revelation to all nations .   Thus the image of light carries an important part in today's liturgy and links itself with the Christmas season and its lights of the