February 2, 2014 – Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Epiphany 4   Feb 2, 2014   (Is 29:13-14,18-19; Mt 5:1-12; see below) 1 Corinthians 1:18-31                         Weak and foolish ********************************** 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 For 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.” *** Some of our finest hymns name our human condition as weak. (I am weak but thou art strong…) Other hymns remind us foolishness is part of our human nature. (Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways…) But I can’t think of any hymns that name God as weak or foolish… Though the apostle Paul is coming pretty close today – talking about the foolishness of God and the weakness of God. We’re in our third week in the first letter to the Corinthians. And maybe it’s a sign of weakness and foolishness to be spending so much time studying a letter – an ancient form of  communication that’s practically extinct. Back when Neanderthals roamed the earth and I was still a teenager, we knew what the Marvelletes were talking about, when they sang“Mr Postman, look and see… is there a letter in your bag for me…” Not many people still write letters. And I feel old-fashioned now because I still use email, rather than texting or tweeting. Now we call sending letters ‘snail-mail.’  But once upon a time, letter writing was practically the only long-distance communication there was. And if the increase in the price of a postage stamp is bothering us, well consider – in days of old it could cost the equivalent of hundreds of dollars to pay for the papyrus that letters were written on, and to pay someone to deliver the letter, carrying it by...

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