Epiphany 6A

205: February 12, 2016

Psalm 119:1-8,  Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Voice in the Wilderness: Diann Bailey 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 

Featured Musician - Heatherlyn, “Welcome to the Maquerade” from her album Heatherlyn

Matthew 5:(17-20) 21-37 - Fulfilling the Law and Prophets

Initial thoughts

  • Verses 17-20 - from last week worth reading if you did not cover this last week- either way is a good reminder to contextualize today's reading

Bible Study

  • Four Major Issues:
    • Anger
    • Adultery
    • Divorce
    • Oaths
  • Righteousness that “exceeds the scribes and the Pharisees”
    • Point out the absurdity of the strict clean/unclean practices or truly declaring a new righteousness?
  • Jesus expands the view of these commandments:
    • Murder
      • begins with judgement and dehumanization
      • reconciliation is the ultimate goal of justice
      • Not about not being angry- but what you do with the anger
    • Adultery
      • begins with sexual objectivism
      • "By collapsing the distinction between thought and action, this extension of the law against adultery to include lust suggests that no one should be regarded as a sex object. The burden here is placed on the man: women are not seen as responsible for enticing men into sexual misadventures." (Amy-Jill Levine, "Matthew," The Women's Bible Commentary)
      • Dehumanization
    • Divorce is about the rights of the woman
      • The onus is put on the husband
      • Divorce leaves the wife open to charges of adultery and lack of social and financial station
      • Breaking of relationship
    • Oaths - it is not simply about what you say but about what you do
      • You actions should justify your truthfulness
      • If you live a truthful life- then there is no need for oaths
      • Do not try and bend the rules or find loopholes in the commandments

Preaching Thoughts and Questions:

  • Is the altar or the Communion table a place for the reconciled to come or a place to become reconciled

  • How does the church become a place of reconciliation?
  • How to we hold people accountable to their oaths while at the same time allowing for grace when the oaths are broken?
  • If we take these words too literally- then don’t we fall into the same legalistic trap as the Pharisees? What is the Spirit of Jesus words? Reconciliation and right relationship.

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 119:1-8 Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 - God’s Co-workers

Initial thoughts

  • Common English makes an important change from “things of the flesh” to “unspiritual”
  • “The flesh” is so often thought of in sexual terms, or at the very least flesh is associated with evil. The term carries a great deal of baggage.
  • “When Paul writes about being ruled by the flesh or dominated by its way of thinking, however, he refers not to an inherently evil flesh but to the flawed perspectives that characterize human values and human decisions… ‘Spiritual people’ does not mean to ignore or suppress the needs of the body, but to be guided by the Spirit of God as distinct from the standards of the world apart from God” (Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching, Year A, p. 142).

Bible Study

  • Spiritual maturity
    • Growth is a recurring theme in Paul’s writing.
    • Also talks about “running the race”
    • Though Paul was transformed by a single moment, he still understood the importance of spiritual development.
    • Maternal imagery goes against common perception that Paul is purely paternalistic in his understanding of the good news.
      • He places himself in the role of mother
    • Spirituality is often seen through lens of individuality “My relationship with God.”  Paul goes against this, revealing that spiritual maturity is revealed in how you relate to the community.
  • Disunity is a sign of immaturity
    • “But for right now, friends, I’m completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God.  You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing more than nursing at the breast.  Well, then, I’ll nurse you since you don’t seem capable of anything more.  As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? When one of you says, “I’m on Paul’s side,” and another says, “I’m for Apollos,” aren’t you being totally infantile?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Eugene Peterson’s The Message)
    • “Team Jacob” vs “Team Edward” (Twilight)  or now “Team Ron” vs “Team Harry” (Harry Potter).  These things seem as immature and ridiculous as “Team Paul” vs “Team Apollos”
    • “The real measure of maturity is unity and peace in the community” (Richard B. Hays, Interpretation: Paul, p. 49).
  • The work of the followers
    • Planting and watering is the work of the people.  Growth is only the work of God.
    • There is a separation of the church and the leaders.  
      • Paul sees himself and Apollos as “set apart”
      • “We are God’s servants… you are God’s field, God’s building”
      • It is still only the work of the Holy Spirit that grows the faith

Preaching Thoughts and Questions:

  • Tribalism within the church, communities, and between denominations
    • What good does the competition do us?
  • Is there room to “in-fight” when there is a group within the Body that you stand against?
    • Letter from the Birmingham jail” - At what cost, unity?
      • “The Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is… the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”
      • When is disunity a sign of maturity?
  • Work in the church can be thankless, and rewards are not always seen.  
  • Does your congregation have a plan for moving people from milk to solid food?

Thank you and get in touch!

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”"Real Ride" and “Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).