Epiphany 6 – Feb. 17, 2019

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Title:Epiphany 6 – Feb. 17, 2019

 Epiphany 6, Feb. 17, 2019 (full size gallery)

This week Fred and Crystal Pannell were featured in a Valentine’s Day article. The author caught them well! Crystal served in the Flower Guild, Altar Guild, Choir and ECW. Fred handled food donations and came to the men’s group.

Weather was damp under increasingly cloudy skies. The Roman’s class is moving along covering chapters 9-11. Sundays’ attendance was low at 28.

This Sunday’s readings emphasize the upside-down nature of God’s kingdom compared to cultural ambitions. The reading from Jeremiah teaches that blessing comes through relying on God. Paul points out the radical challenge implicit in Christ’s resurrected presence with us. In the Sermon on the Plain from Luke, Jesus presents the blessings of the kingdom that reverse the present order of society.

The sermon is here. The sermon concentrates on the sermon on the Plain in Luke. “Jesus says that the kingdom of God is for anyone who wants to be part of that kingdom. And in that kingdom, no one is poor, no one is hungry, and no one is mourning.”

“So if we are God’s disciples and we believe what Jesus is saying, then we want to do all we can to live as if the Kingdom of God is already here on earth, and to live in that reality! –by seeing and addressing the others’ needs instead of protecting our own good fortune.” Several example are provided well known like Mother Teresa but less well known such as John Bell whom Catherine met in Guatemala and a gentleman on our street.

Jeremiah’s verses from the Old Testament echo the Jewish tradition of wisdom teaching (such as the book of Proverbs), which guided people in leading a rewarding life. The verses are very similar to Psalm 1 and may have influenced its composition. They contrast the two basic responses—trust in God or trust in human power—and the consequent rewards or punishments that will follow. “Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals. ” The term blessed includes both material and spiritual rewards in this world. Trust in the Lord is relevant in our time with the troubles in Washington and the Stock market . “It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. ”

The psalm, Psalm 1 with its call to a righteous life based on knowledge of the “law of the Lord,” the Torah, serves as a fitting introduction to all the Psalms. It springs from the Wisdom tradition, which emphasized how to live in both material and spiritual prosperity.

The righteous are those who have not taken the advice of the wicked, nor imitated their way of life, nor joined in their rejection of the law. They “meditate” upon it, literally, ‘read it aloud in a low voice’. The Lord is in intimate and personal relationship with the righteous.

The Epistle is from 1 Corinthians. Apparently the Corinthians did not make a direct connection between the resurrection of Christ, in which they did believe, and the resurrection of ordinary human beings. It is not stated explicitly what they did believe about the latter—possibly the Greek notion of the immortality of the soul, or possibly that only those alive at the time of the second coming would be transformed.

Paul claims that to deny the resurrection of the dead is to deny the saving effect of Christ’s own resurrection, through which Christians are a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), freed from death and sin. To deny the effect of Christ’s resurrection is thus to deny their own experience of forgiveness, of hope for the dead and of ongoing life in Christ (vv. 17-19).

The Gospel from Luke the first part of Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49). It parallels much of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew.

Jesus has ascended a mountain to pray. While there, he has chosen twelve of his disciples, his followers, to be apostles. Now he descends part-way, to a “level place”. There he finds other followers and many others, from Israel and beyond (“Tyre and Sidon”, v. 17). Many are healed, both of known “diseases” (v. 18) and of being possessed. Evil “spirits” made them ritually “unclean” so they were not permitted to share in corporate worship of God. This is a scruffy crowd

Suddenly, people who have lamented their poverty and hunger throughout their lives hear their miserable condition praised. Those who on better days consider themselves the scum of the earth find themselves uplifted to participants in the reign of God. Folks on the margins of the crowd, who don’t dare come closer because they are social outcasts, start dreaming of their warm inclusion in a heavenly reward. Somehow, although the words contradict every glum message they’ve ever heard, they believe him.

Luke tells us of four beatitudes (vv. 20-22) and corresponding woes or warnings of deprivation in the age to come. Some are “blessed” (happy) by being included in the Kingdom Jesus brings. The warnings are prophecies, cautions. The pairs are:

• the “poor” (v. 20) and the “rich” (v. 24);
• the “hungry” (v. 21a) and the “full” (v. 25a);
• the sorrowful (v. 21b) and the joyous (v. 25b); and
• the persecuted (v. 22) and the popular (v. 26).

The “poor” (v. 20) are those who acknowledge their dependence on God; the “rich” (v. 24) do not want to commit themselves to Jesus and the Kingdom; they are comfortable with the existence they have now. The Greek word translated “consolation” (v. 24) is a financial term: the “rich” do not realize what they owe to Jesus.

The “hungry” (v. 25) hunger for the word of God, the good news; the “full” are the materially satisfied. In v. 22, “exclude” means socially ostracized and excluded from the synagogue and Temple. The “Son of Man” has a corporate sense: it includes Jesus and his followers: they will be persecuted, as Israel (“their ancestors”, v. 23) persecuted Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Amos, but “in that day” (at the end of the era), they will be rewarded. Jeremiah 5:31 says that people spoke well of “false prophets” (v. 26).