The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer
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Introduction to the Readings for February 12, 2017

For the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany

Listen to these clear instructions about faithful living Moses offers his wandering people now perched on the edge of the Promised Land.  How might his instructions for faithful living hold value for us gathered here this day?

 A reading from the thirtieth chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, verses 15-20

"I set before you life and death; choose life.”

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 

If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing  his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 

But if your heart turns away and you do not hear but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. 

Choose life that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Here ends the first of our readings from scriptures this day.

 

In response to God’s word to us from the ancient texts, let us sing together:

 “Give Thanks for Life” from VU 706

 

Our gospel reading picks up from where we left off last week as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount continues.  Here we, like those gathered on the hillside, are privy to clear instructions for living faithfully together in community.

Reading from Matthew, Chapter 5, verses 21-26

“Jesus teaches a new understanding of the law.”

“You have heard it said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 

But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or a sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or a sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go;

Be first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.   Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 

Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”

 

Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.  Thanks be to God, amen.