January 15, 2007

Looking Ahead to January 21, 2007 -- 3rd Sunday After Epiphany

The Scripture Readings for this Sunday are:
  • From the Letters of the Church: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
  • Psalm 19 (VU p.740)
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-12

The Hymns are:

  • #245 Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet
  • #82 A Light is Gleaming *NEW*
  • #679 Let There Be Light
  • #588 Many Are the Lightbeams

As this Sunday marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the Children's Story is going to be about Christian Unity.

THe Sermon title is In Praise of the Law.

Early Thoughts:The focus passage is Nehemiah 8:1-12 (omitting verses 4 and 7 out of kindness to the reader). It challenges us about how we think of the Law in the Scriptures.

Over and over again we are reminded that the Way of Jesus is not meant to be a legalistic path. Grace has, we are told by Paul, superseded the Law. But then again Jesus is supposed to have said "I come to fulfil the law, not to abolish it". And in this passage we are told that the people wept and celebrated upon hearing the reading (with interpretation) of the Law.

Psalm 19 (also being read this Sunday) says "7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes". This hardly describes something onerous or something that has been imposed.

Jewish Tradition sees Law as God's gift, indeed one of God's greatest gifts. Christian tradition tends to denigrate the Law all the while creating a whole new legalistic structure about who is "right" with God and what is allowed. What would it take for us to see the Law as a gift? How would that change our approach to life?

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