Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

January 30, 2011: Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12

Psalm 15: A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy hill?
2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
and speak the truth from their heart;
3 who do not slander with their tongue,
and do no evil to their friends,
nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
but who honor those who fear the Lord;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
5 who do not lend money at interest,
and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Matthew 5:1-12: When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness? sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany Comment: O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill? As I pondered David's introductory questions to Psalm 15, I thought what a beautiful way of describing relationship with God. The imagery of a tent reminds me of God's shelter, but a shelter that is portable. Unlike the immovability of a house or a church building, God erects a tent for me whenever and wherever a covering is needed.

Then there is the spaciousness of relationship with God as conveyed in the idea of "dwelling on a hill". I believe one barometer of our growing connectedness with God is that our view of ourselves, others and life broadens. We become more circumspect. We recognize all is connected.

David begins his psalm with questions. He answers the questions by telling us it's a matter of the heart. A heart as described by David sets up "tents" around the lives of individuals at their deepest needs. This heart connects and relates with souls regardless of the cost, "who stand by their oath even to their hurt."

In the N.T. text, we find Jesus sitting on a mountain teaching spiritual principles that run counter to natural human sensibilities. You are "Happy"(the meaning of Blessed) when you are humbled, mourning, in the midst of strife, unsure of making choices or even being persecuted.

As I read these texts I also thought about the meaning of this liturgical season. The Revised Common Lectionary names this current season as Epiphany. Epiphany means to make known or to reveal. The Roman Lectionary calls this season Ordinary Time. The word "ordinary" should not be mistaken as average or commonplace, but "counting" as in being mindful of, paying close attention to the mystery of Christ.

The mystery is knowing God in Christ can change the human heart; it is understanding we can never know the intricate ways God, the Holy Spirit makes those changes.

O God during the season of Epiphany show us how to make each day count as we set up ?tents? in places of your choosing that invite others to share the same love we find in you. AMEN


Epiphany Blessings,
Rev. Julia
©January 28, 2011

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