Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany [Proper 5] (Green)

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Readings   ISAIAH 58:1-12; PSALM 112:1-9; 1 CORINTHIANS 2:1-16; MATTHEW 5:13-20

Collect        Merciful Lord, grant to your faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Alt 1              O God of light, your Spirit reveals and illumines your presence in creation. Shine your radiant holiness into our lives, so that we may offer our hands and hearts to your work: to heal and shelter, to feed and clothe, to break every yoke and silence evil tongues.

Revised Common Lectionary Prayers (2002) alt.

Alt 2           God of Israel, giver of love’s law: liberate us from all that numbs compassion, so that we may find in your commands light undimmed and flavour undiminished; through Jesus Christ, fulfiller of the law.

Prayers for an Inclusive Church (2009) alt.

Prayer over the Gifts

God of compassion and forgiveness, receive our offering this day, and make us one with him who is our peace, Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Prayer after Communion

Eternal God, in you we find peace beyond all telling. May we who share in this heavenly banquet be instruments of your peace on earth, in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.

First Reading

8 am              THE FIRST LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 58TH CHAPTER OF THE BOOK OF ISAIAH, BEGINNING AT THE 1ST VERSE.

10 am                        A READING FROM THE BOOK OF ISAIAH

Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practised righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgements, they delight to draw near to God. “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

8 am              THE WORD OF THE LORD.

10 am                        HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.

THANKS BE TO GOD.                                                   (ISAIAH 58:1-12)

Psalm

REFRAIN Happy are they who have given to the poor.

Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear the Lord and have great delight in his commandments!

Their descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Wealth and riches will be in their house, and their righteousness will last for ever. R

Light shines in the darkness for the upright; the righteous are merciful and full of compassion.

It is good for them to be generous in lending and to manage their affairs with justice. R

For they will never be shaken; the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance. They will not be afraid of any evil rumours; their heart is right; they put their trust in the Lord. R

Their heart is established and will not shrink, until they see their desire upon their enemies.

They have given freely to the poor, and their righteousness stands fast for ever; they will hold up their head with honour. R

[The wicked will see it and be angry; they will gnash their teeth and pine away; the desires of the wicked will perish.] R

PSALM 112:1-9 (10)

Second Reading

8 am              THE EPISTLE LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 2ND CHAPTER OF THE FIRST LETTER OF PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS, BEGINNING AT THE 1ST VERSE.

10 am                        A READING FROM THE FIRST LETTER OF PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” – these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

8 am              THE WORD OF THE LORD.

10 am                        HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.

THANKS BE TO GOD.                                       (1 CORINTHIANS 2:1-16)

Gospel

8 am              THE LORD BE WITH YOU.     AND WITH THY SPIRIT.

THE HOLY GOSPEL IS WRITTEN IN THE 5TH CHAPTER OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT MATTHEW, BEGINNING AT THE 13TH VERSE.

GLORY BE TO THEE, O LORD

10 am            THE LORD BE WITH YOU.                 AND ALSO WITH YOU.

THE HOLY GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO SAINT MATTHEW.

GLORY TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.

8 am              PRAISE BE TO THEE, O CHRIST

10 am                        PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.

MATTHEW 5:13-20

Sermon

Let us pray.

Holy God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.

Amen

I’d like to bring your attention around to the story of a young Canadian woman who had a bit of a rough childhood. She got involved with alcohol and drugs at a young age and was not likely making much of herself. She was not doing much with herself – that is until she saw and was inspired by a speed skater at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

Jesus’ word to the people listening to him that long-ago day was one about doing that thing which you were meant to be doing. About using one’s talents to perform well to the glory of God.

I have to say that I am a sucker for a good Olympic story. Every 2 years I get to revel in the achievements and stories of athletes who have perfected their skills in a field of endeavour for which I have no real aptitude.

Did you notice this week that the Canadian National Women’s Soccer and Basketball teams are playing to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics? And, while I don’t think that sports matches are a great topic for prayers to God, I think they can be a great focus for some of our attention.

The story that has held my attention for a good number of years is the story of Clara Hughes. She is a fine athlete in two different sports – cycling in the summer and speed skating in the winter.

She is the only Canadian to have ever won a medal at both the winter and summer Olympic games. She is also tied with another Canadian woman for having won the most Olympic medals ever. In fact she is the only athlete in the history of the Olympics to win multiple medals in both the winter and summer games.

Clara has been an inspiration to a great many Canadians for a great long time. She remains an inspiration to this day. In her retirement from elite sport she has taken up the causes of mental health awareness and encouraging young people into sport.

Clara found that thing she was meant to be doing. She illuminates the path that can be traveled when one responds to a call on one’s life.

Salt is salty and lights illuminate. We were created by God to work for his glory. You are salt of the earth. You were created for a purpose – you were created to be salty. Our job in this life is to discover what is our purpose – what are we meant to season.

From the baptismal service that most of us have participated in – “Receive the light of Christ, to show that you have passed from darkness to light. Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

This is the moment in the service when the newly baptised person is handed a candle to symbolize the light of Christ in our life and what we are meant to do with it once we recognise that it is there.

We are commissioned at baptism to let our light shine and that light can be discerned by its fruits, by what we do with it. Our lives are not only about ourselves – we are not self-sufficient and are not meant to try to be self-sufficient. We are called to use our lives and everything that we do – be it cycling or skating for gold, or feeding the hungry or up-raising the downtrodden or the prisoners – by everything that we do we are called to point to God.

I’m not talking about the cheesy pointing heavenward after a touchdown at a professional football game, all the while smashing heads together to get to that moment. Rather, I think we are called to subtly by our every action, and with some consistency, use our actions and the platform we have been given to point to God’s being the source of our encouragement and strength to behave with justice.

There is a story about Clara Hughes – she is said to have returned from the Turin Winter Olympics and headed straight up to northern Manitoba to encourage the Inuit to pursue sport for the many benefits it brings for physical and mental well-being.

Sometimes I am dismayed by the behaviour of athletes and their antics – one has only to think of Lance Armstrong or perhaps Tiger Woods for examples of athletes that have behaved poorly. To extend the image from the Gospel reading – these folks have attempted to conceal the lit candle under a bushel basket and distract us with a powerful flashlight.

God has called us to shine authentically before others, no trickery required, and let the fruits of our good works and our well-lived lives bring glory to Him who created us.

So I invite you to go forth from this place in loving service to humanity, realizing that the Glory and thanks for that will return not to you, but to the source of your inspiration to behave with justice – the glory will point to God.

Let us pray

God of Israel, giver of love’s law: liberate us from all that numbs compassion, so that we may find in your commands light undimmed and flavour undiminished; through Jesus Christ, fulfiller of the law.

AMEN