I wanted to start off by saying something about happiness.
There’s been plenty of research done around what is happiness and how do we achieve it? In one recent study by Arthur Brooks he stated that scientists have proven that up to 48% of happiness has to do with genetics, 40% has to do with a “isolated events” like getting a dream job (but they unfortunately rather short-lived), leaving about 12% under our control in four key areas of life: faith, family, community and work. Continue reading The Beatitudes: Receiving and Giving Blessing (Matthew 5:1-12)
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.” (Matthew 4:23 NRSV)
[I opened my sermon by sharing a story about my car battery dying and trying to push the car on my own to move it and the relief that came when other’s came to help me.]
It’s pretty silly to get caught pushing a car up a hill by yourself, when the remedy is to realize you can’t do it on your own and you need help from others. How many of us get caught doing things like this in our lives because we’re trying to be self-sufficient, we want to be successful, we want people to think we’ve got it altogether.
The last thing I want people to think of me as is ordinary or average. Because if I am ordinary or average, I am afraid I won’t be accepted.
How often are we caught pushing cars by ourselves in our spiritual lives? Shoes slipping off, straining far more than necessary, working so much harder than we need to because we don’t want to show any sign of weakness, we don’t want to ask for help, or appear ordinary? Continue reading Pushing Cars and The Alliance of “Backwards” People (Matthew 4)
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.”
I’m working on Matthew 4:12-25 this week and after many readings of the text it’s starting to open up to me. This portion of the text constantly refers to Galilee which is meant to draw our attention to a particular area and milieu that Jesus is doing his work within. Later in v. 23, as you can see above, it says that we find Jesus working “among the people.” This grabs my attention as a central theme that Matthew’s Gospel has been building on since the genealogy. Continue reading Among the People
Abraham had Isaac, Isaac had Jacob, Jacob had Judah and his brothers, Judah had Perez and Zerah (the mother was Tamar), Perez had Hezron, Hezron had Aram, Aram had Amminadab, Amminadab had Nahshon, Nahshon had Salmon, Salmon had Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Boaz had Obed (Ruth was the mother), Obed had Jesse, Jesse had David, and David became king. David had Solomon (Uriah’s wife was the mother), Solomon had Rehoboam, Rehoboam had Abijah, Abijah had Asa, Asa had Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat had Joram, Joram had Uzziah, Uzziah had Jotham, Jotham had Ahaz, Ahaz had Hezekiah, Hezekiah had Manasseh, Manasseh had Amon, Amon had Josiah, Josiah had Jehoiachin and his brothers, and then the people were taken into the Babylonian exile…Jacob had Joseph, Mary’s husband, the Mary who gave birth to Jesus, the Jesus who was called Christ.
One of the things I like about Christmas is getting all the pictures in the mail from family and friends. Even if I don’t hear from these friends all year, it is fun to get a card and see a picture of their family, see how old their kids are getting, be reminded of their presence in my life. And the genealogy at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel shows us that family is a part of the original Christmas story as well. Continue reading A (New) Family Portrait (Matthew 1)