It's Wednesday, and as far as the manse life is concerned, this is the day to tie down the theme for Sunday and firm up the hymn choices from a "short list" (usually around 10-12!)
This week's gospel (Matt 5:21-37) is one of those passages we dread:
21 ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,” is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.23 ‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.25 ‘Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.27 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.31 ‘It has been said, “Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.”[f] 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.33 ‘Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not break your oath, but fulfil to the Lord the oaths you have made.” 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply “Yes,” or “No”; anything beyond this comes from the evil one
|My desk... my tools of the trade...|
To be better, bolder, stricter, purer - more perfect than Mary Poppins herself!!
There is in here guidance for dealing with anger, forgiveness, lust, adultery, divorce, swearing.... None of these are easy or simple; none is a lightweight topic.
But, within these hard sayings, this perfect living, is revealed something else:
God's perfect forgiving love.
God's uncompromising forgiveness
We may feel overwhelmed by the task ahead
But we know we are never alone
And, when we fall short, we are forgiven.
When we feel burdened
There is one who will share the yoke
We need not wail and moan
Let your yes be yes
Let your no be no
Keep it simple
Keep it true