Come and Shine

Scriptures: Matthew 5:1-16

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Let us pray:

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Fisher King, Light of the World, Amen.

This will be a participatory sermon today. I have three questions I would like to pose for you in this brief meditation. Jesua ben Joseph began his teaching as an itinerate Rabbi in the region of the Gentiles, called Galilee. First, specifically calling ordinarily overlooked people to “Come and see,” where he stayed when they asked, he later bid them “Come and follow me” in his itinerate travels. My first question for you is this: What do you suppose those first followers learned just from listening and observing Jesus teach from town to town, synagogue to synagogue?

Facilitate answers from those gathered

Then this Jesu ton Nazoraiou changed tactics: he sat down on the mountain and began to teach those who came to him, whom Matthew identifies at this point as “his disciples.” Jesus begins by teaching the Beatitudes, or, the Beautiful Sayings. Something to keep in mind about these sayings: Each of them specifically critiques contextual realities poorer Hebrew people experienced day to day. Jesus critiques both Roman Empire privilege and elite Jewish establishment.

“The Beatitudes are spoken to those groups whom God deems worthy, not by virtue of their own achievements or status in society, but because God chooses to be on the side of the weak, the forgotten, the despised, the justice seekers, the peace makers, and those persecuted because of their beliefs.”[1]

 

My next question for you today is two-fold: Who are modern day equivalents? As in, whom in your opinion would God choose among our societal context today and whom today would fit the examples of the Roman Empire and elite Jewish establishment?

Facilitate answers from those gathered

Identifying Biblical characters as well as modern day iterations frames for us to whom Jesus is speaking for the rest of his teaching on the hill. Disciples whom he has called, those in the crowd who have come and followed, and those to whom he will eventually give the mission of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven near to others.

Jesus continues his teaching in verses 5:13-16:

13“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

 

In these two metaphors, Jesu ton Nazoraiou “describe[s] and prescribe[s] who his followers are and what they do for and in the world.”[2] First, they are to “elicit goodness on the earth.”[3] Second, we learn from the context of the scripture that this is enacted in community, becoming like a mirror of God reflecting out to God’s people the justice and mercy implicit in the love of God, which is God’s Heavenly kingdom lived out in the world. That goes for the time of Jesus, the time of the present, and for all times.

My third question for you today is this: if we are to consider ourselves a modern day synagoga, or assembly, of those called by Jesua ben joseph to be modern day disciples, how are we salt for this time, and light for this mountain community?

Facilitate answers from those gathered

Let us pray:

I wonder, Lord, if we might be given a glimpse into your heart. You who love all people, all beings, indeed all Creation; what if instead of casting ourselves on you to be transformed, we instead invite you to enter into us so we might see through your eyes. Grant us the grace to learn how to do ministry not to others, but with them; for even as you have come to us, so too you have come to and are transforming others. Invite us into your heart, that we might better serve you and your unfolding purposes. In Christ’ name we pray, Amen.

 

Questions for Reflection

How do we live in hope of a reality we cannot yet see or, at best, catch only fleeting glimpses?

 

Household Prayer: Morning

Blessed God, Open my eyes to the way of love, seeing your brilliant love shining in the shadows.

 

Household Prayer: Evening

Loving God, thank you for leading me through this day and into this night. Thank you for rest.

 

[1] Marcia Y. Riggs, “Theological Perspective, Matthew 5:1-12” in Feasting on the Word – Year A, ed. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010).

[2] Marcia Y. Riggs, “Theological Perspective, Matthew 5:13-20” in Feasting on the Word – Year A, ed. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010).

 

[3] Ibid.

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
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