February 9, 2014 –– Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
1Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments.
2Their descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.
4They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
5It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice.
6For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever.
7They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.
8Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
9They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor; their righteousness endures forever; their horn is exalted in honor.
10The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.
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. 2Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.
3“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. 4Look, 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. 5Is 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? 6Is 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? 7Is 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?
8Then 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. 9Then 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, 10if 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. 11The 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.12Your 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.
1 Corinthians 2:1-16
2When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power,5 so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
6Yet 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. 7But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But, 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”—10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For 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.12Now 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.
13“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 underfoot. 14“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In 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.
17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18For 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. 19Therefore, 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. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
“Let it shine”
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
If you learned this song as a child you were being taught that your life, your actions, and your character as a Christian were beacons of hope and forces for good in the world. Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 likens the influence his disciples of Jesus in the world with the effects of light shining in darkness and the effect of sprinkling salt on food, in other words, life-giving, positive effects.
In the other texts for the day, there is also affirmation of upright behavior. Let’s make a list of this good behavior named in Psalm 112:
- Fear the Lord.
- Delight in God’s commandments.
- Be gracious, merciful, and righteous.
- Be generous, give to the poor.
- Lend to others.
- Conduct the affairs of your life with justice.
- Do not be afraid of evil tidings.
- Have a firm, steady heart.
- Be secure in the Lord.
The last line of the Psalm catches my attention – The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.
Good behavior and right actions are a witness to the wicked. How I conduct my life matters. I am not so sure that my behavior and my actions automatically dissipate the destructive influence of the wicked. I have to understand my choices in life over the long haul. The Apostle Paul reminds us that Christ was crucified. His good actions and behavior did not eliminate the wicked.
However, the life and teachings and sacrifice of Christ did create a light and salt movement that continues to inspire and motivate many toward compassion toward others. That movement is inspired by God’s Spirit and is the witness of those who have entered the kingdom of God.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.