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6th Sunday between Epiphany and Lent – Year A

12 February

Below you will find the Bible readings set for this occasion in the Revised Common Lectionary, with our Australian idiomatic paraphrases of them, plus prayers and sermons based on them.

Bible Readings (paraphrased)

Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary. Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts(CCT) P.O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.

“Take note that today I, the LORD your God, have laid out the choices clearly before you. You can choose life and good times or death and hard times. If you live by the rules that I have given you today — if you love me, do things my way, and follow my rules, guidance and instructions — then you will live and flourish. I, the LORD your God, will look after you and make you strong and prosperous in the land I am about to give you.

On the other hand, if you reject me and refuse to listen to me, it will be a very different story. I am warning you in no uncertain terms that if you pursue other objects of devotion and serve them instead of me, your lives will be ruined. You will not last long in the land I am about to give you on the other side of the Jordan River.

Here and now I call on the earth and sky to witness that I have laid out the choices clearly before you; choices between life and death, between being blessed and being cursed. Choose life! Choose life so that you and your children and grandchildren can flourish. Commit yourself to me, the LORD your God, in love and loyalty. Obey what I say and stick with me, because that is the sure-fire recipe for a long and satisfying life in the land that I promised to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

©2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

You can do what God tells you if you want to.
Sticking to the right track is a simple matter of choice.

God has laid out the options in front of you.
Stick your hand in the fire or in the water. You choose!

Every person is offered the same alternatives – life or death –
and whichever you choose, that’s what you get.

The wisdom of the Lord is incredible.
The power of the Lord is enormous.
They eyes of the Lord don’t miss a thing.

The Lord keeps a close watch on all who respect him.
Whatever people are up to, the Lord knows about it.

No one is under God’s orders to do the wrong thing by others.
The Lord has not given the nod to corruption of any kind.

©2011 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

LORD, how good it will be for those who no one can point a finger at,
who play by your rules and stick to the straight and narrow.

How good it will be for those who do what you say,
and put their whole heart into knowing you better;
who never do the wrong thing by any one,
but stick to your tracks all the way.

You have laid down the law for us
and told us to follow it to the letter.

There is nothing I want more than to be rock solid,
following your script in everything I do.

If I keep my eyes fixed on your instructions,
I will never have to hang my head.

The more I discover the justice and integrity of your teaching,
the more I sing your praises with my heart beating proud.

I intend to do everything you say;
please don’t ever give up on me.

©2011 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Sisters and brothers, I wish I could treat you as grown-ups when we are speaking of spiritual things but, unfortunately, I can’t. You are such babies in the Messiah’s family that I can’t treat you much better than those who live like animals. I’m still having to spoon feed you with baby food, because you are clearly not ready for the solid meat-and-potatoes stuff. You weren’t ready when I was with you, and you are still not, because you still behaving like animals. Look at all the bitchiness and back-biting that goes on among you. Can’t you see what it says about you; that you not tuned in to the Spirit at all, but are constantly at the beck and call of your own selfish desires?

You keep splitting up into rival factions. One group says, “We’re on Paul’s side,” and another says, “We’re for Apollos.” You’re like toddlers spitting the dummy!

What’s so important about Apollos or me anyway? We are just simple workers who introduced you to the Lord while doing the jobs that he gave us. We were working together like a team of gardeners. I planted the seeds, Apollos came along and watered them, but it was God who made things grow. The ones who plant and water are nothing. They can’t make anything grow. Only God can do that. Apollos and I are on the same team. My planting and his watering were both for the same purpose, and we’ll both be paid our due wages from the one payroll. You see, we are simply two labourers, working shoulder to shoulder, tending God’s garden, which is you lot, or constructing God’s building, which is also you lot.

©2011 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

After telling his followers that their integrity needed to go way beyond that of the Pharisees and the religious experts, Jesus went on to give some examples. He said, “You know that the law given to our ancestors in the olden days said ‘Do not kill anyone’, and ‘whoever kills someone will be brought to justice.’ Well, I am telling you to set your sights way higher than that. Imagine one of those sliding scales the legal eagles love to dream up, and try this for size. If you lose your temper with someone, you will be brought to justice. And if you spit insults at someone, you’ll be dragged before the High Court. And if you call someone a brainless moron, you will probably burn in hell! Now there’s a standard to aim at!

“So what does this look like in practice? Well, if you are on your way to offer your worship to God and you remember that you have offended a sister or brother and you haven’t sorted it out with them yet, then put everything on hold, and go and make peace straight away. Get your relationship back on good terms first, and then you are free to come and worship God.

“Or, if someone is accusing you of something and threatening to take you to court, do everything you can to find some way of settling it and getting back on good terms before it ever gets that far. If you dig your heels in and try to fight it through the courts, you’ll be paying off lawyers for the rest of your life, and you might lose anyway.

“You know that the law said ‘Do not have sex with anyone who is married to someone else’. Well, I am telling you expect a bit more of yourselves than just that. If you start undressing someone with your eyes and wishing you could get your hands on them, then there is already a sexual predator on the prowl in your heart. Stomp on it before it gets loose! If you can’t control your wandering eye, you might as well gouge it out and get rid of it. You’d be better off without it than letting it lead you onto the slippery slope of depravity that ends in hell. And if you can’t keep your hands to yourself, you’d be better off getting them amputated. It is no use keeping them if they are out of control and turning you into a predator fit for hell.

“The law also said that if you decide to quit on your marriage, you should end it completely with a proper legal divorce. Well, I am telling you to lift your standards. Unless the person you married is already dragging your vows through the mud, divorcing them is a failure to follow through on your promises and is no better than adultery. And if you marry someone who walked out on their marriage to be with you, that’s just adultery too. The legal niceties don’t make it right.

“And another thing: you know that the law given to our ancestors in the olden days said, ‘You must not tell lies under oath, and if you make a promise in God’s name, then you must follow through on it.’ Well, I am telling you to set your sights way higher than that. Think of yourselves as being under oath all the time, and don’t go trying to add extra weight to what you say by calling God as your witness, or swearing on a stack of Bibles, or on your mother’s grave, or any such thing. None of this cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die rubbish, as if it made any difference. Just speak the truth all the time. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Any attempt to muddy the waters beyond that is a scheme of the devil.”

©2011 Nathan Nettleton Laughingbird.net

Prayers

Let us lift up our hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
for we have learned of your justice,
and you have never left us without witnesses to your Word.

In ancient days before you gave your people the land,
you set before us a covenant,
with heaven and earth as your witnesses,
calling us to embrace your ways
and choose life over evil.

When we turned away from you, life began to perish,
but you sent your child, Jesus Christ,
— your word become flesh —
to reconcile us to one another and to you,
so that the righteousness of your law might be fulfilled in us.
Though he was killed, you raised him to life,
and now, in each generation
your servants work together
to plant and water the seed of your Word
which you cause to grow in us,
so that, following your ways, life can be blessed.

Therefore with .....

©2006 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

We thank you for sending your child, Jesus Christ,
to reconcile us to one another and to you,
so that the righteousness of your law
might be planted and grown in us,
and following your ways, life can be blessed.

©2011 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

(Preface reformatted for use apart from communion)

We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for we have learned of your justice,
and you have never left us without witnesses to your Word.

In ancient days before you gave your people the land,
you set before us a covenant,
with heaven and earth as your witnesses,
calling us to embrace your ways
and choose life over evil.

When we turned away from you, life began to perish,
but you sent your child, Jesus Christ,
— your word become flesh —
to reconcile us to one another and to you,
so that the righteousness of your law might be fulfilled in us.
Though he was killed, you raised him to life,
and now, in each generation
your servants work together
to plant and water the seed of your Word
which you cause to grow in us,
so that, following your ways, life can be blessed.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

©2006 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

To all you who seek God with all your heart
comes God’s promise to steady you and hold you close,
God’s mercy is for you,
that you may, without shame,
walk in the ways of God’s life.

Sisters and Brothers,
  your sins are forgiven;
    be at peace.

©2006 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

God has placed before you life & death, blessings & curses.
Therefore choose life, follow God’s way.
Go now, and be a people of reconciliation and integrity.
Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” “no”.

And in all the paths you walk
may God hold you steady and close.
May Christ Jesus bless you and every place you enter.
And may the Spirit give you length of days and fullness of life.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
   In the name of Christ. Amen.

©2006 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

Sermons

Sermons will open in new tabs from our SYCBaps church website.

  1. Fighting Right
    A sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 & Matthew 5:21-37 by Nathan Nettleton
  2. Lifting our Standards
    A sermon on Matthew 5:21-37 by Nathan Nettleton
  3. Taking Our Humanity to a New Level
    A sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 & Matthew 5:21-37 by Nathan Nettleton
  4. Who Lit the Fires of Hell?
    A sermon on Matthew 5:21-37 by Nathan Nettleton
  5. Jesus Confronts My Angry Tirade
    A sermon on Matthew 5:21-37 by Nathan Nettleton

Details

Date:
12 February
Series: