Fourth Sunday of Epiphany
January 31, 1999
|Micah 6:1-8||Justice, mercy, and humility||348: Softly and Tenderly
Jesus Is Calling
354: I Surrender All
385: Let Us Plead for Faith Alone
|Psalm 15||Living on the Lord's holy hill||256: We Would See
702: Sing with All the Saints in Glory
|Matthew 5:1-12||Rejoice, you who are blessed||102: Now Thank We All Our
510: Come, Ye Disconsolate
|1 Corinthians 1:18-31||Wisdom that confounds||152: I Sing the Almighty
Power of God
598: O Word of God Incarnate
It seems to be a universal human tendency. People hear a rule or guideline and immediately start to apply it. Instead of examining themselves, though, most people try the rules on other people. If there is a deficiency, then "they" need to change or suffer the consequences--and woe to them who fail to change! Certainly our Christian faith comes with rules and guidelines and commandments, and the very name "Christian" calls us to follow the example of Christ Himself. These are very real standards, and they are not to be taken lightly. But how do we apply them? How do we measure up when we examine ourselves? Or do we simply entertain ourselves by applying those standards to others?
This week's lectionary contains a scripture verse that has long been one of my favorites. "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8. What a wonderful passage! Direct. To the point. And pointed directly--at the reader. It does not give the reader standards to apply to others. It looks at the reader through God's eyes and lays down the standards for self examination. I find myself unable to look back into the Word until I have examined myself.
It is natural for people to seek and claim reconciliation with God. This week's featured hymn tells the stories of many who might have sought that reconciliation by seeing Jesus. The wise men who followed the star. The people in the community who lived with the Lord day to day. The crowds who gathered to hear His words. The sick who came for healing. The disciples who answered the call to follow. All of them "would see Jesus."
These were the observations of Rev. John Edgar Park, President of Wheaton College from 1926 to 1944. His biography at Wheaton College's web site, http://www2.wheatonma.edu/ Library/Wallace/Archives/Histories/FBF/ Biographies/Park.html, tells us that he was educated at Queens's College, Belfast; Royal University, Dublin; New College, Edinburgh; and Princeton. Park pursued post-graduate work in Leipzig and Oxford. For 19 years he was the minister of the Second Church, West Newton, and while he was there he published such books as The Man Who Missed Christmas, Bad Results of Good Habits, and Disadvantages of Being Good. The first of these, The Man Who Missed Christmas, can be found at http://www.osmond.net/chill/ christmas/stories/16.htm. I encourage you to take a minute to go and read it. Although it never mentioned Jesus by name, it told the story of George Mason, who found himself trapped in a situation where the only one he could examine was himself. After the event, Mason was a changed man. He had seen a way to true happiness, not in a pious life within the church, but in a life of giving and service in the world. Perhaps, if I could interject, Mason had found the meaning of the words from Micah--to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. He had found God--he had found Jesus.
Look for Jesus as you read Park's words:
|1. We would see Jesus; lo! his star is shining
above the stable while the angels sing;
There in a manger on the hay reclining;
haste, let us lay our gifts before the King.
|2. We would see Jesus, Mary's son most holy,
light of the village life from day to day;
shining revealed through every task most lowly,
the Christ of God, the life, the truth, the way.
|3. We would see Jesus, on the mountain teaching,
with all the listening people gathered round;
while birds and flowers and sky above are preaching
the blessedness which simple trust has found.
|4. We would see Jesus, in his work of healing,
at eventide before the sun was set;
divine and human, in his deep revealing
of God made flesh, in loving service met.
Would you see Jesus? Would you seek Him? Live with Him? Find Him? Follow Him? Say yes!
God bless you--
Lection at HymnSite.com
|Passages suggested are from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.|