Sermon Notes for Sunday 17th. February 2019.
Lord of Light, shine upon these words the very truth of your being, that we may read and be brought into deeper relationship with you. Amen.
Jeremiah 17:5-10. Cursed are those who trust in human strength and turn away from God. They live in barrenness with no hope. But those who trust in God are like trees planted near a river. They have green leaves and bear lots of fruit. The human heart is deceitful and wicked and God searches all hearts and motives, rewarding people according to their actions.
Psalm 1. Those who do not follow the ways of the wicked are blessed. They delight in God’s law and they are like trees along a riverbank bearing fruit and prospering in all they do. The wicked are worthless and will be judged. God watches over the righteous but the wicked will be destroyed.
1 Corinthians 15:12-20. Some Corinthians say there is no resurrection. Paul points out that this means that then not even Christ has been resurrected, which means their faith is useless and believers are most to be pitied. But Christ has been raised and is the first of a great harvest.
Luke 6:17-26. Jesus preaches to the crowds, in Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. Those who are poor, hungry, and who weep, and are persecuted are blessed, while those who are rich, prosperous, laughing, and praised by the crowds are facing great sorrow.
The Reverend Tania writes,
The central theme of all of the readings this week is the contrast between those who follow God’s ways and those who don’t. Jeremiah speaks of how those who turn away from God and trust in their own human strength are cursed, but those who trust in God are like trees planted near a river which are filled with life, green leaves and lots of fruit. This same metaphor is picked up in Psalm 1, where those who trust in God’s law and follow it are like healthy, living trees, while the wicked are cursed.
In Luke Jesus speaks of how those who are poor, hungry, and weeping are blessed by God, while those who are rich, prosperous, laughing, and praised will experience woe. It is significant that Jesus’ definition of blessing and curses, and what brings about those conditions, is very different from the Old Testament picture, or at least how those Old Testament pictures are usually interpreted.
Finally, Paul compares those who believe in resurrection with those who don’t, declaring that followers of Jesus who do not believe in a resurrection, or whose faith only has value for his life, are to be pitied, but those for whom resurrection is a reality, know that faith reaches beyond our current mortal life.
Ultimately, all of these passages call us to a choice between trusting our own strength, wisdom, and ways of being, or embracing the way of Jesus.
May our worship this week lead us deeper into the way of Jesus in practical world-changing ways.
Prayerfully, Rev. Tania.