5th Sunday After the Epiphany, Year A

* Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12) •
* Psalm 112:1-9 (10) •
* 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16) •
* Matthew 5:13-20

We are BIG on Grace and Mercy and Forgiveness. There is no way around that.

Both of us have been people who did not offer Grace, Mercy, and Forgiveness, and both of us have been people who have not received Grace, Mercy, and Forgiveness....and after some consideration, we both believe it is better to offer and receive Grace, Mercy, and Forgiveness rather than withholding it.

There is so much to be said about the notion that we do not have to do anything....actually, that there is not anything we CAN do....to participate in or receive salvation.

AND there is so much to be said about what we do with our lives and how we respond to ourselves, the world, and God once we understand our role and relationship and place with God.

This week's readings all talk about how important it is to really be doing something with the faith we profess.

Isaiah has so many wonderful interactions between God and God's people. Some of them warm and fuzzy and some of them maybe a little uncomfortable and aggressive. This week's passage shows God (at least the inspiration of God through the pen of Isaiah) sort of poking the people and accusing them of being less than consistent between their words, actions, and intentions. The people think they are being righteous, but God says they are fasting with the intention of personal gain and recognition. And then God makes clear that if they remove the contentiousness and quarreling and evil from among themselves, if they offer food to the hungry, then God will be there to support and satisfy them at every turn.

We don't often like to think of faithfulness to God as a contingent relationship, but it appears that God does have some expectations of the people.

The message of Psalm 112 is summed up in the first verse: Happy are those who fear the LORD, who greatly delight in his commandments. There is much more commentary about how happy and how the happiness will manifest itself, but that is the basic point: Delight yourself in God / the commandments of God, and you will find happiness.

Paul goes at this from a slightly different direction. He illustrates the things / revelations that come to those who are Believers / Followers / Spiritual. Paul has a way of making things sound complicated, but really, when you are really tuned in, really aware of God and your relationship with God, do you suppose it is easier...or maybe just a natural outflow...that you are better able to love others?

In the passage from Matthew, Jesus talks of the product of a person's life being changed. When you have received the Light of God, it is your responsibility to share it with others. And that light illuminates those around you in ways that light the whole world. Laura recently tapped into a memory about her father's first bout with cancer and the way he suffered with damage to his taste buds. Who knew that salt made the whole world better? Italian artists began to play with the way that light fell in their paintings - chiaroscuro was born. The way that they depicted light changed the art world....but isn't that what light does? Changes the world?

Created by God, sharing our humanity with Christ, infused with the Holy Spirit...change the world.

somedays we just check the box
we just show up at worship
we put a check in the basket
we make our commitments
and follow along
and forget
forget the beauty
of our interrelatedness
and our creation
and our dependence
on your very breath...
the essence of our BEing
and we can
and share that breath

© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world;
we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words.
May Grace & Peace be with you.

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