Saturday, January 28, 2023

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany January 29th, 2023

The Collect 
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.

Old Testament Micah 6:1-8 

Hear what the LORD says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the LORD, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the LORD has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD.” “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? 

Psalm 15

1 LORD, who may dwell 
in your tabernacle? * 
who may abide upon your holy hill? 
2 Whoever leads a blameless 
life and does what is right, * 
who speaks the truth from his heart. 
3 There is no guile upon his tongue; 
he does no evil to his friend; * 
he does not heap contempt 
upon his neighbor. 
4 In his sight the wicked is rejected, * 
but he honors those who fear the LORD. 
5 He has sworn to do no wrong *
 and does not take back his word. 
6 He does not give 
his money in hope of gain, * 
nor does he take a bribe 
against the innocent. 
7 Whoever does these things * 
shall never be overthrown. 

The Epistle 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 

The Gospel Matthew 5:1-12 

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

There are times in our lives when we can feel and know the blessings, and other times when we are at a loss to find a kernel of hope for our lives. Times of loss and mourning, times of betrayal and hurt, as well as moments of loneliness and illness can obliterate the blessings in our lives. To all of us struggling in these times, Jesus tells us directly that we are blessed, blessed, despite the internal and external forces that would like us to believe we are blighted, worthless or cast out. Our times of deep brokenness are times when Jesus draws close and give us an extra measure of blessing. We are embraced and wrapped up in his loving arms, bringing new life where we can only see destruction now. Let us live into the blessings promised to us today.

A Sunday Litany

Wondrous Creator, source of new life
we find ourselves in deep caverns
surrounded by loss and despair
yet you are present here with us.
Loving Savior, make us your blessings today.

We live in times of cruelty and violence
the darkness seems to overcome all
the cold winds of winter frighten us
yet you, find us in our fearful place.
Loving Savior, make us your blessings today.

Help us to honor those who suffer now
by walking with them in their fears
you bless us as we bless the outcast
you renew us as we walk with them.
Loving Savior, make us your blessings today.

The horrors of inhumanity worry us
you are light in our deepest darkness.
Loving Savior, make us your blessings today.

The winners crush their enemies now
but you promise blessings to the meek.
Loving Savior, make us your blessings today.

Help us see the many blessings upon us
so that we might share with those in need.
Loving Savior, make us your blessings today. Amen.