Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (6th Sunday after Epiphany)
The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:
First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10, Psalm: 1
Second Reading: I Corinthians 15:12-20
Gospel Reading: Luke 6:17-26
The liturgical color for the day is: Green
For regular lectionary preachers, it has been some time since these texts have been encountered. The Gospel Lesson is the Luke version of the Sermon on the Mount—commonly called The Sermon on the Plain.
While there are similarities to the Sermon on the Mount, not all of the content of Matthew’s version is included in Luke and other material (than can be found elsewhere in Matthew) is incorporated as part of Luke’s Sermon on the Plain.
Luke’s Sermon on the Plain is balanced between “blessings” and “woes.” While there are many doorways to preaching this text, this balance may serve as an apt entry point for our current context as Christians.
The complexity of our congregations, and both our collective and individual witness is neither solely a “blessing” nor a “woe.” There is a “both and” nature to our life in the church these days. In Jesus’ sermon each blessing has a coordinating woe. There is a “both sides of the same coin” nature to each of those.
In our context we are called to heed the “woes” as worthy of diligent attention. We tend to shy away from judgment in the age of self-help. These woes call us to look critically at ourselves and the work we are doing as disciples.
What does it mean that we find ourselves as the ones who are rich, full now, and laughing while enjoying hearing others speak well of us? Dealing with these rich paradoxes is part of the nature of faith where the first will be last and the last will be first.
One echo that needs to be heard as we encounter the complexity of living with both blessings and woes is that which is heard in the Psalm and Jeremiah texts for the day: “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.”