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Showing posts from February, 2017

Transfiguration- Jesus, as he is

Matt 17:1-13
Sometimes our ideas of who someone is can overshadow the person. Sometimes we think we know someone, but then we get new information that is hard to fit with our idea of who that person is. Maybe we find out the person has been to jail, suddenly we wonder if we really know that person. Sometimes our prejudice can cause us to be surprised when we learn that our cab driver was a medical doctor back in the country they moved from. Our assumptions can sometimes overshadow the person to the point that we don’t really see them.

Something similar happened to the Apostle Peter, who is often the spokesperson for the disciples. In the chapter before our Gospel reading today (ch 16) we witness an interesting conversation between Jesus and the disciples. They are walking along the road and Jesus turns to his disciples and asks them "who do people say that the son of man is?" They respond by saying "some say John the Baptist [who had been killed],…

enemy love

Matthew 5:38-48
These teachings of Jesus are among the most challenging words he ever spoke. He says, “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. ‘You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, … Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
I suspect many of us hear those words, but then quietly reject them as not livable. It is anti-intuitive to love your enemy. Is it even possible? What do we mean by “love” in that context? We hear Jesus say to turn the other cheek when struck and we suspect that our fist would be halfway to the other person’s nose before we have really had…

Anger- Mat 5

Matthew 5:21-37
The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) is where Jesus defines what it looks like to be his disciple. He is describing life in the Kingdom of God. He is describing the character of someone who belongs in that kingdom. In the Sermon Jesus describes a person who is not controlled by the divisive force of anger; who treats lust as seriously as adultery; who doesn’t abandon and leave vulnerable a person they have been married to; a person whose word can be trusted without extra oaths and contracts; who doesn’t seek revenge; who even loves their enemies; who gives to the needy secretly without needing to be recognized for it; by using money as a tool to be used rather than a master to be served; by the reality of God in our lives eclipsing the anxieties about the necessities of life; who doesn’t judge others when they still have so much wrong with their your own lives. What Jesus is describing in the Sermon is life as it was meant to be. He is describing the characteristics of …

Salt and Light- Mat 5

Matthew 5:13-20
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us who we are as his disciples. If we claim to be followers of Jesus then the Sermon on the Mount should be front and center in our lives. It is at the end of the Sermon that Jesus says:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matt 7:21-23)
It is a frightening warning that comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, which doesn’t talk about casting out demons, or prophesying. Those might be impressive (even important at times), but we should not be too concerned with those flashy ministries, when what really matters to Jesus is the character of the person he describes in the Sermon on th…