Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany/in Ordinary time (A), January 29, 2017 - Micah 6:1-8; also Matthew 5:1-12, with a reference to 1 Corinthians 1:18-21

Symeon Shimin: Contemporary Justice and Child
Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C. (1940)

Micah 6:1-8

The Controversy of the LORD

"The controversy of the LORD"
Is written by the prophet to restore
The right relationship between
A people who believe, and God not seen.

He argues, he contends; his "rib"*
(In Hebrew) means much more than he's just peeved,
Or that his nose is out of joint;
He brings a lawsuit now to make a point.

That point is this: There is no God
That you can claim unless you think it's odd
That you have gotten where you are
Apart from being such a shining star.

The word, my friends, says Micah, still,
Is gratitude that is unproved until
The kindness, love and justice shown
To you, from you to others will be known.

Scott L. Barton

* רִיב  complaint, suit, contention

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 ten 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?

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First Congregational Church
Hadley, Massachusetts

Matthew 5:1-12, with a reference to 1 Corinthians 1:18-21

Blessed Are the Upside Down

"Blessed are the upside down,"
So he seems to say; But -
Who on earth is glad to mourn?
What blessing is conveyed?
Likewise, poor in spirit - Who
Is happy to be there?
Meek folks aren't on Forbes's list,
Such combination's rare;
No good deed goes unpunished,
The cynic wryly notes;
But kingdom view is different!
- And henceforth, faith denotes
Not wisdom for a sampler,
To hang upon the wall,
But vision upside down is -
God's vision, above all!
The good news is God sees things
To which we're mostly blind,
Unless we look with Jesus,
His heart, and soul and mind;
Things that are not, will yet be,
And God counts no one out;
Each one belongs to God, and,
Thus, blessed are you! - No doubt!

Scott L. Barton
(The opening line is from a sermon by Barbara Brown Taylor, published in Gospel Medicine.)

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.

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