O God of light,
your searching Spirit reveals and illumines
your presence in creation.
Shine your radiant holiness into our lives,
that we may offer our hands and hearts to your work:
to heal and shelter,
to feed and clothe,
to break every yoke and silence evil tongues. Amen.
It’s February! The Super Bowl is over, the ground hog has seen his shadow, but we are still here in the season of Epiphany (and the RCL readings for the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany may be found here.) It’s a loonng one this year but I don’t mind. These extra Sundays in year A allow us the opportunity to tackle one of my favorite pieces of scripture, the Sermon on the Mount. With all due respect to Martin Luther, who thought Jesus set the bar impossibly high here, I find the SotM to be inspirational and aspirational. (But I may be weird, just sayin’!)
If you didn’t celebrate the Feast of the Presentation (aka Candlemas) this past Sunday, you may have tackled the Beatitudes which immediately precede this week’s pericope. Our gospel opens with Jesus’ proclamation to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world…” What awesome and challenging analogies! Have we indeed lost our saltiness? If salt is meant to improve whatever it is combined with, is our saltiness bringing out the best in those around us, enhancing God’s kingdom? And light…we’ve been reflecting on light a great deal in this season of light, and here’s another chance. What hides our light from the world? Have you ever been in complete darkness? Can you imagine it and then imagine what difference even a tiny bit of light could make?
If Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount aren’t speaking to you this week, perhaps you’ll want to reflect on the prophet Isaiah. This is actually a passage I’d like to revisit closer to Lent because it has much to say about why we fast — something I’ve long struggled with. Feasting on the Word does a nice job explicating this, and Working Preacher nicely highlights the justice aspects of the passage….lots of good stuff to work with.
Our New Testament reading comes from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, where Paul makes the case that those who follow Jesus must see the world through the lens of “Christ crucified” and the not the lenses we normally employ, especially those of class and status and power and wealth. Just as true today as in the 1st century, and just as hard to preach!
Do you have a sense of direction, preachers, in this long interlude before Lent? Are you inspired by the Sermon on the Mount? Challenged by Isaiah? Moved by Paul? Are you off lectionary? Join in the discussion and share you thoughts, frustrations, questions….whatever you’ve got!