Watching for the morning of February 2
The Fourth Sunday after EpiphanyThis Sunday we hear Jesus speak. We have heard Matthew tell us of Jesus’ honored lineage. We have heard the witness of scripture to this child of Bethlehem and seen wise men from the East kneel before him. Angels have appeared to protect him from Herod’s murderous envy and to return him to the land of Israel. The Voice of God has testified of him at his baptism in the Jordan and he has withstood all the challenges of the evil one in the wilderness. Then, last Sunday, we saw him arise and summon us to follow him, to join his movement to right the world, and heard him declare the reign of God is dawning. Now we hear him speak.
His voice echoes with the sounds of the prophets like Micah describing the faithfulness and mercy God desires from us. His voice echoes with the sound of the psalmist describing the character of true righteousness. His message begins with the sweet notes of the Beatitudes: it is the poor, the grieving, the merciful, the peacemakers who are honored in God’s sight. These are the one who reflect the character of God’s kingdom. These are the ones who live the way of God. And these are the ones who shall receive the promised inheritance of a world transformed by the Spirit of God.
The Prayer for February 2, 2014
Lord of Life,
by your word and deed you overturn the values of our world,
declaring honorable what is often despised:
the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers.
Help us to hear your Word,
and in hearing to trust,
and in trusting to live as you call us to live.
The Texts for February 2, 2014
First Reading: Micah 6:1-8
“8He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Through the prophet God brings charges against his people, summoning the surrounding hills to hear God’s case and render judgment. God has done great things for this people and asked for justice and mercy, but the people have been faithless.
Psalmody: Psalm 15
“O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?” – The poet describes the one who is worthy to enter the temple precinct in terms of faithfulness to others rather than ritual purity. Where we expect to her about ‘clean hands’, we hear instead about justice and mercy.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” – The values of ‘the world’, the things honored and treasured by a humanity that has lost its harmony with God, are shown to be foolish and empty by God’s revelation of himself in Christ crucified.
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – The beatitudes begin Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ first of five blocks of teaching in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus declares what is honorable in God’s sight and promises God’s favor.