In Sunday’s Gospel Lesson (Matthew 5: 21-37) Jesus raised the bar for Christians in how we handle our relationships. The Ten Commandments drew a line in which you were not intended to cross; however, Jesus expanded on them with the spirit behind the law. He did not want us to simply view the commandments as a line in the sand whereas you are fine so long as you do not cross it. He wants us to view the commandments in the spirit of relationships between each other. In the text Jesus expands:
- Shall not murder TO don’t be angry with your neighbors
- Shall not commit adultery TO do not be lustful, even in thought
- Shall not bear false witness TO be so commendable and truthful there is no need to swear an oath
- Don’t follow the letter of divorce TO treat people fairly and justly
It boils down to the golden rule. A simple rule which, if followed, would radically change the world; simply by treating each other how we would like to be treated ourselves. Jesus did not come to abolish the law, he came to fulfill it! Together, we can live into his ministry and make the world a better place!
Today’s lesson in Sunday school is scripture from Matthew that calls us to be “salt of the earth” and to be the “light of the world.” As time has come to pass, we have taken these things for granted. Salt now is a spice that we readily use and is inexpensive to acquire. But that wasn’t always the case. In a time without refrigeration salt is a commodity that you could not live without. It was necessary for the preservation of food. It was a key element for survival. We still cannot live without salt but in its abundance, we don’t concern ourselves by giving it much thought.
I wonder if sometimes that is how we treat God’s love for us. For it is in such an abundance that we do not take the time to appreciate it and share it like it should be done. Someone once asked me what my life would look like if tomorrow I woke up without the things I did not thank God for today. Scary thought if that started to happen.
God’s love burns bright for us and he wants us to share it. Evangelism is a task that Episcopalians do not overachieve at. It was quoted at the recent Diocese of East Tennessee Convention I attended that “Jesus calls us to be fishers of men, but we all to quickly become keepers of the aquarium.” It is a reality that hit a little too close to home. Then the Bishop shared an idea with us that I really liked. He said great evangelist do not bring God to people. Rather we talk with people to help them discover a God already present and active in their lives.” That shed a whole new light on evangelism for me.
Today we celebrate many things; the Super Bowl, Ground Hog Day, and hopefully we have given some thought to Presentation Sunday. The day that the Christ child Jesus was presented to the temple. You see Mary and Joseph were diligent in following the law of the times so after 40 days from the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary went to the temple in Jerusalem to make a sacrifice and present their firstborn male to the Lord.
If you take it from the point of view of Joseph, he may have been ready to get in and get out quickly satisfying their covenant requirements. After all, he and his newlywed Mary have already been through so much what with the virgin birth and angelic visitors. But their visit would not be like most. You see there was a man named Simeon there who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would live to see the Lord’s Messiah. And with God’s perfect timing they meet at the temple and Simeon takes Christ into his arms and praises God for the fulfillment of his promise. He says that he may now rest in peace for he has seen the salvation in Christ with his very own eyes just as he was promised.
I wonder what Simeon would say to us. He waited his whole life to see the light of Christ. Today we are born into this world with the light of Christ shining bright. A light for everyone, anytime. It is something to take comfort in and share. How can we share this news so that others may experience what Simeon and we have already?