Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Scripture Readings for Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hello Everyone,

We now return to using the Lectionary Readings for our Sunday Worship. The Gospel will finish four week of readings in the Sermon on the Mount some of which we read several weeks ago. The Epistle Lesson has also been a continuous reading in 1 Corinthians.

Our readings this week are:

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 – My Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, has the title “Ritual and Moral Holiness” on this chapter of Leviticus. This reading is an expansion of the 10 commandments. However, it opens with the admonition that we should be holy because the Lord is holy. Verses 3-4 summarize commandments 5, 4, and 2. (The Big 10 are at Exodus 20:1-17.) Verses 5-8 are about ritual sacrifice. Then, in two verse increments, we are commanded to leave some harvest in the field for the hungry, to not steal or swear falsely, to not defraud neighbor or cheat the workers, to be fair in judgment, and to not hate our kindred or take vengeance against our people. It ends with a command to love our neighbor as ourselves. Notice the fairly narrow definition of what it means to be a neighbor.

Psalm 119:33-40 – This is the fifth stanza of Psalm 119 which I discussed last week. The letter of the week is “He”, the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Every verse in this stanza starts with that letter. This section asks the Lord to teach us the ways of his commandments.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23 – Paul here is dealing with the divisions that exist in the First Church of Corinth. The church has many problems but the first Paul tackles is that different groups within the church claim to follow different evangelists. Paul says that new Temple of God, the church, is built not on the foundations of evangelist but only on Jesus Christ. He, Apollos, and Peter (Cephas) can only build upon that foundation. If anyone were to destroy that Temple they would be destroyed. After a sermon series in which I proclaimed that God, as known by Jesus, was without violence, how do we explain that Paul says God will destroy that person? I checked 5 different translations and they all say the same thing. I have an idea but you should consider the question. Paul ends by saying that all things belong to the people of Corinth, they belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. Therefore, all things belong to God and all of us belong to God. Who knew?

Matthew 5:38-48 – We dealt with this passage several weeks ago in my sermon series “Violence and God’s Redeeming Love”. Jesus, after proclaiming that he came to fulfill the Law, calls us to live to a righteousness above the righteousness of the Law. Verses 38-42 says we are not to resist the evildoer; in other words turn the other cheek, give the cloak, walk the second mile, and give to beggars. Verses 43-47 are a call to love the unlovable. Verse 48 is Jesus’ quote from our Leviticus passage. You know the one: be holy as God is holy. Tough stuff, no?

Have a great week serving God by serving others.

Pastor Gary

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