Friday, February 21, 2014
A Greater Hope for all Things
Matthew 5: 38-48
Congregational life is rich with possibilities of discovery and growth. Each week we take a certain rest from our routines and listen. We listen to one another and we listen to a particular word that has been attended to across the generations. In our listening, together, we are caught up in grace and strength to trust that the word is for us. They are words that make much of what might otherwise go unnoticed. In this way we get to be moved by a love and a hope sometimes beyond our understanding but no less real. No wonder Jesus would say in the Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard that it was said… but I say to you…”
Jesus brought words and teachings into the grittiness of the disciples’ lives. On the mountain they listened and likely struggled to understand the implications of what they were hearing. I can imagine that the words touched an array of emotions. Jesus must have sensed deeply their fears and disbelief.
While the mountain may have felt like a place set apart, Jesus was leading them into a place of engagement with real life situations and relationships know or yet to be known. Jesus was leading them into a place of change within themselves and beyond themselves. Natural inclinations such as a need to get even could be left behind for a greater hope for all things to become whole and well.
On the mountain and in the sermon was an invitation into a profound way of being that grew from a profound way of belonging. Clearly the message of love went far beyond sentiment. It was a kind of love greater than the disciples imagined – not only a love of neighbor but even love of enemy. It was a love that could move them into the kinds of actions that promised newness, forgiveness and peace!
This was more than an interesting lesson; it was a call to participate in the holiness of God. Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect – Matthew 5:48. Note that this is not perfectionism as we know it but a goal toward God’s loving purpose for all of creation. It is living into our identity as God’s forgiven ones. It is an awareness that the best of our actions flow from God’s unconditional love.
A verse from Wendell Berry comes to mind: “…what are we but hosts of times, of all the Sabbath morning shows, the light that finds it good.” (A Timbered Choir: Counterpoint, 1998)
Pastor Randy Olson