It would appear that preparing a post for Monday or even Tuesday is a challenge. Sorry for the lateness this week. We are preparing at Northwood to wind up our 5 week focus on Stewardship with our Celebration Sunday. We have not followed the Ecumenical Lectionary this week but instead have chosen two readings that draw our attention to the way we receive and the way we give.
Background on this weeks readings:
The prophet Micah lived in that prophetically rich time period after the fall of the Northern kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians, and before the fall of the Southern kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians. He had watched as the previously rich Israel crumbled. His is a voice speaking from the margins of Judean power in the rural area southwest of Jerusalem, speaking to the centre of power in Jerusalem. He, along with Hosea, Amos, and Isaiah, fiercely challenges the steady drift of the social and economic order within the nation mostly revolving around the temple. In today’s reading the prophet lays out an argument between God and the people. “Look back and see all I have done for you, and you simply offer burnt offerings in the temple but miss-treat and neglect the poor. Then we hear what is acceptable worship to God: “Seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.”
The Sermon on the mount is what John Wesley, founder of called “The Little Canon.” Here Matthew gathers core teachings of Jesus. This is the first of the five sections of teaching in Matthew which are said to parallel the five books of Moses. Jesus, in Matthew, is the new Moses, the new Covenant making prophet.
We are just reading the first part of the sermon on the mount, the section in which, after the blessings within the beatitude, Jesus turns to his core circle of friends and disciples and says, “You are the salt of the earth…” This feels very personal, very direct, and very challenging. These words echo down the years within the Christian community and call out for a response from us.
Some thoughts and questions
This being celebration Sunday, the main question is, after five weeks of reflection on the ways that we pour ourselves out for the sake of the gospel both within the church and beyond its walls, how are we salt? How are we light for the world? In what ways do we practise radical gratitude, courageous giving. How do we shape our lives around these words: Seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. If indeed this is the kind of worship God really wants, what needs to shift in our lives to make it so?