February 12, 2017 – Rules, So Many Rules

6th Sunday of Epiphany   February 12, 2017  (Psalm 119:1-8, Deuteronomy 30:15-20, I Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-26, 33-37) Rules, So Many Rules – by Susan Goux *********************************************************************** Pastor Tim gave me the option of using the lectionary for this week or choosing a theme of my own.  I have to admit it was a temptation.  To choose any topic and have rapt listeners for 15 minutes or so — listening to anything I want to say was a real temptation, but since we have been studying Matthew, I thought I would try to continue the lessons.  I’m not a Biblical scholar so what I’m going to talk about today is what I thought about as I read and considered these readings and some others further along in Matthew — and what it means to me.  I can’t “teach” you or tell you what you should think about when you read these passages.  Let me remind you what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5:  “It is written:  ‘You shall not murder;’ and ‘whoever murders shall be liable for judgment.’  But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council.  When I read what Jesus said, my first reaction was that he is overreacting.  Murder is a long way from getting angry or saying a few words that are disrespectful.  We’ve all been angry with someone without wanting to murder them.  That’s what siblings do, isn’t it?  I could never be capable of murdering someone, could I?  Then again, anger is a powerful emotion.  Being angry, being goaded could cause someone to lash out.  And lashing out, could cause consequences that could lead to murder in extreme situations or by someone who was arrogant enough to have to be right.  Jesus is counseling reconciliation rather than adversarial behavior.  Back in the early 80’s there was book called “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William Ury.  It was very popular for business and other negotiations, including arbitrations or legal actions.  Fisher and Ury explain in the book that a good agreement is one which is wise and efficient, and which improves the parties’ relationship. Wise agreements satisfy the parties’ interests and are fair and lasting. The authors’ goal is to develop a method for reaching good agreements.  I wonder what Jesus would have thought of this method of discussion.  Is this what he meant when he said:  “first be reconciled with your brother or sister…” One of Fisher and Ury’s important principles is to separate the individual from the issue, trying to look at each side objectively.  If done properly and in good faith, it takes the personal anger out of the equation.  But it doesn’t require either side to give up on their basic principles.  Getting to Yes does not require an unsatisfying compromise or giving up on the things that are most important to you.  It does require listening to each other and caring enough to want to honor each other.  Jesus is telling us to take action, not to be wishy-washy, to stand on our principles and say yes to God’s teachings and no to what is against what God has taught us. ...

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February 16, 2014 – Epiphany 6

Epiphany 6 Feb 16 (Deut 30:15-20—see below) Matthew 5:21-37 You have heard it said… but I say… ****************************************************************************** Matthew 5:21-37 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.   “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.   “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” ****************************************************************************** Our daughter Rohi and I enjoy playing Scrabble. A game that wasn’t always on my list of things to do. Before I learned to play it again by Rohi’s rules, Scrabble could feel a bit tedious. All that sitting, figuring, trying to play tougher letters, spell bigger words, make letters fit the right squares to get the most points. Then somebody wins, game’s over…What’s the point? Which is kind of how I’ve sometimes thought about some of the biblical   laws found in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers and Exodus… I know in my mind this is...

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