This Sunday is the fourth Sunday after Epiphany. It's the last Sunday in "Epiphanytide," which culminates on February 2 (the Presentation of Our Lord). Here are resources to prepare you for the coming week.
This week's lectionary readings remind us that Christ's ministry and the church's mission are not about strength and power, but about justice and mercy, meekness and humility, about turning the world upside down. The way of Christ is often counterintuitive.
- Micah 6:1-8: "He has told you, O man, 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?"
- Psalm 15: "O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right."
- 1 Cor. 1:18-31: "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . . For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
- Matt. 5:1-12: "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
God our deliverer,
you walk with the meek and the poor,
the compassionate and those who mourn,
and you call us to walk humbly with you.
When we are foolish, be our wisdom;
when we are weak, be our strength;
that, as we learn to do justice
and to love mercy,
your rule may come as blessing. Amen.
- Revised Common Lectionary
There is a besetting paranoia that plagues the superpower mentality and it is most often manifest in an anxious obsession with security. Anxiety over security is the price the aggressive pay for clawing their way to the top—they are fated to live in constant dread that someone will take away their position of privilege. They worry about who might be hot on their heels. But Jesus, endorsing the psalmist, says there is another way, a way that is blessed and peaceful—the way of radical trust. The meek are not the driven, self-assertive, hyper-aggressive, grab-my-piece-of-the-pie people—they are not the winners and go-getters, the movers and shakers, the large and in charge. The meek are the ones who believe in God and are willing to trust God for their portion and their security. The way of violence and aggression is the way of Caesar. The way of meekness and trust is the way of Christ. And they are in contradiction to one another.
- Brian Zahnd, "Blessed Are the Meek"
"Open Up" by The Brilliance is based in part on the Prayer of St. Francis. The chorus is:
Make me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is darkness let me shine light and
May Your love cause us to open up
Cause us to open up our hearts
May Your light cause us to shine so bright
That we bring hope into the dark
The sculpture below is a detail of the Sermon on the Mount, part of Joseph Chaumet’s Via Vita sculpture, consisting of 138 gold and ivory figures representing scenes from the life of Christ. France declared the work a National Treasure in 2000. (Bible Odyssey)
- Grace & peace