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  • Writer's pictureJohn M

Weekly Liturgy : February 6-12

Matthew 5:21-37

Anger, Adultery, Divorce, and Oaths

The Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus Mafa.  1973.
The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus Mafa. 1973.
 

TEXT:


Matthew 5:21-37


Concerning Anger

21-26 “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.


Concerning Adultery

27-30 “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.

Concerning Divorce

31-32 “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 sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


Concerning Oaths

33-37 “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

 

REFLECTIONS:


The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ manifesto on what ethics looks like inside God’s “kingdom.” After telling his listeners that their righteousness must be better than the religious leaders of the day, these various examples of behavior are Jesus’s attempts to explain what he means:


Don’t just not murder. But don’t use your words to inflict pain!

Don’t just not commit adultery. But don’t look lustfully!

Don’t justify your divorce with legal paperwork. Avoid the system that turns women into men’s property!

Don’t place your ethics in external rules, but become someone of committed character!


In each example, Jesus moves the weight of ethics from outside behaviors to inner realities. And Jesus even says failing to live up to these expectations comes with the threat of hell! But the word Jesus uses (that we translate to “hell) is “Gehenna.” Gehenna was the name of a trash dump outside the city where Israel previously sacrificed children. Its the ultimate example of using violence on others to create comfort for ourselves.


Perhaps Jesus is trying to say that in God’s “kingdom,” inner transformation comes first. And unless we are transformed to see others’ full value, our best attemtps at ethics will only be continuations of harming others for our own comfort.


 

PRACTICE:


Outward Mindset Application

Help one co-worker shine each day this week.


Pathways Toward Centeredness

Activism (loving the world through confrontation): Think of 3 things you buy regularly. Research how those things are made and/or distributed. If any of the items involve exploitation of other humans, come up with a plan to begin purchasing less of that item.


Questions for Reflection Are any of your relationships in need of repair? What is one thing you can do to make that repair easier? What is one request you’d like to make of the other person that will make that repair easier?

 

You’re Invited!

One of our community practices is to gather every Sunday morning for prayer, friendship, and conversation about the week’s Scripture text. Doors open at 10:30am for coffee and donuts. Our circle begins at 11:00am. We’d love to see you there! The Open Table (@ The old DMV) 2640 N Portland Rd Salem, OR 97301

 

“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.


Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.


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