February 2, 2020
I am going to try something new through our newsletter, and the intent is to hopefully increase your worship experience on Sunday. What follows are worship notes regarding Sunday’s service.
Prayer of focus (In some traditions called the Prayer of the Day or Collect as it collects or reflects the theme of the day).
Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Throughout the history of the Church this passage which begins Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) has been and still is today pivotal in living a life of faith. For me I need to keep in mind that the Matthew 5-7 is the first of five discourses in the gospel (Matthew 5-7; 10; 13; 18; and 24-25). Of the five discourses the remaining four include the disciples of Christ being sent out in chapter 10. Chapter 13 includes a series of parables about being sent out and fishing for people. The disciples’ role and life in the kingdom of heaven is found in chapter 18 with the final discourse of chapters 24-25 speak to me about living in faith in the world today. Continued reading of the passages not only informs my mind but, my heart and soul become conformed to the teaching of Jesus. The words become a part of my being (heart, soul and mind). I am reminded of how God will write His law on the hearts of His people in Jeremiah 31:33 “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Emerging from the text in my current reading is how the beatitudes are structured. I noticed that in verse 3 the initial beatitude concludes with “… for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Then we have the beatitudes of verses 4-9 with no similar concluding statement. However, in verse 10 we have the concluding statement of verse 3 repeated “… for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The first eight beatitudes are framed by the kingdom of heaven. The ninth beatitude speaks to one’s blessedness in the world with those who are against you. As I sit and ponder the beatitudes, I realize more fully the gift of the kingdom of heaven in that the ultimate well-being of one’s heart, mind, and soul are found in God’s gift of blessedness that we receive. I hunger. I yearn. My desire is to be in God’s presence for when I am in God’s presence I am at peace. I am full. Psalm 1 captures what it is like to delight in God’s blessedness … God’s law. Psalm 23 is the fullness for me of heart, soul, and mind.
I encourage you to read Matthew 5:1-12 before Sunday. In your reading what do you see emerge from the text?