THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
This week’s lessons and the prayer of the day touched me as being very timely – and faithful – yet also very challenging.
Seminary Professor Walter Brueggemann has said: “The prophetic tasks of the church are to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grieve in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society that lives in despair”.
The prayer speaks of sowing love in the context of hatred, pardon where there is injury, and hope in the face of despair. Amen.
The lessons invite us to share the Light we have seen and that we have been given through the presence of this Jesus in our lives. Do we see, benefit and yet absorb the Light without reflecting it so that others can benefit also? That would not be so loving because love gives.
As a parable of giving love, I invite you to read the so-called children’s book “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. At various stages in a growing child’s life the backyard tree provides what the child/adult needs. In the end, it appears the tree has nothing left to give – and yet, it still provides what the now-old boy needs.
Such a tree is our God.
May we not only receive gratefully but also share faithfully the provisions God has provided for the world God so loves at all stages and conditions of life.
O Lord Jesus, make us instruments of your peace, that where there is hatred, we may sow love, where there is injury, pardon, and where there is despair, hope. Grant, O divine master, that we may seek to console, to understand, and to love in your name, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Luke 6: 27-38
SERMON: “The Giving Tree”
[Jesus said:] 27“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
4Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ ” 15And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
50What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
37“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
We come to the conclusion of this year’s very long Epiphany season. It began eight week ago with the story of the Wise Men who had been led by the light of a star to visit the baby Jesus. The following week, it continued with the story of Jesus’ baptism by John.
Now in a dazzling display of light on a mountaintop, Jesus’ identity is confirmed in an echo of that baptism. “This is my Son; listen to him”.
But, those with Jesus on that occasion “kept silent” and “told no one any of the things they had seen”.
This story convicts me re my silence about the presence of this Jesus in my life. In church, I can share the truth of my faith and beliefs. Outside of church, I am more self-conscious about being seen as ‘preachy’ or coming across as ‘righteous’.
Paul reminds us in the second lesson that we have the freedom to speak the truth and that is how “we commend ourselves to . . . everyone in the sight of God”.
One of the ‘truths’ I hear through these lessons, particularly the Gospel, is that we are inclined to be more comfortable in our old places and patterns. And yet, Jesus move out and moves on – and invites us to follow into new and perhaps less-comfortable places. Truth.
Lent is just around the corner.
Holy God, mighty and immortal, you are beyond our knowing, yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Transform us into the likeness of your Son, who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Luke 9:28-36 [37-43]
SERMON: “The Truth about Shame”
35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34but whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
4:1Therefore, since it is by God's mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God's word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.
[37On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not." 41Jesus answered, "You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here." 42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43And all were astounded at the greatness of God.]