This Sunday we will continue with our sermon series, “Violence & God’s Redeeming Love”. This week’s theme is “Scandal, Violence, and Law”. Our scripture lessons will be:
Genesis 4:1-17 – Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer and Abel was hunter/herder. Cain offered a grain, fruit, and vegetable offering and Abel offer a meat sacrifice. Whose offering was acceptable to God? Why was that offering more acceptable than the other? (The lesson really doesn’t say why but you may feel free to venture a guess.) What happened in Cain’s heart and what did God say to him? What did Cain do and what was God’s response? Where did Cain find a wife? What did Cain build? In my sermon series I am asking you to seriously consider the following sequence: Desire leads to Rivalry and Scandal; Scandal leads to Violence/Murder; Violence/Murder brings Peace (uneasy at best); and Peace founds Civilization. In our story: Cain desires what Abel has, God’s acceptance, which makes Abel Cain’s rival. That rivalry leads to the murder of Abel, which leads to an uneasy pact with God. Cain then founds a city.
Exodus 20:13-17 – The last five of the Big Ten; the “don’ts”.
Romans 7:14-26 – The law is good but it also points out our sins and in a way leads us into more sin. Woe is me! What can I do?
Matthew 5:17-48 – This is a large chunk of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus say that he hasn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. What do you think he meant by that. He didn’t say he came to enforce the law but to fulfill it. The balance of this relatively long reading is about Jesus calling us to a “higher righteousness”. Each section begins, “You have heard it said . . . but I say to you . . .” Try living the Sermon on the Mount for a day or a week and you will see that this “higher righteousness” stuff is really difficult. With God, all things are possible.
Our Lectionary appointed lessons are:
Isaiah 9:1-4 – Isaiah has a vision of a new king who will lead the people in a new, more glorious light. Matthew quotes this passage in the reading below.
Psalm 27:1, 4-9 – The Psalmist is assured that the Lord will protect him and not abandon him in all his trials.
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 – After his introduction Paul sets out what he hopes to accomplish with his letter – unity. There are factions in the church each claiming the authority of one person or another. Paul wants to reestablish Christ, the message of the cross, as the only authority.
Matthew 4:12-23 – Jesus goes to the shore of the lake and calls four fishermen to follow him. Matthew reports that they “immediately left their fathers and their boats to go with Jesus.
May the Lord bless you this week in all that you do.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor