6 Epiphany Sermon - Feb 17 2019

6 Epiphany Year C

Feb 17 2019

10am service

Jeremiah 17:5-10 (NIV); Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 11: 23-26 (NIV); Luke 6:17-26 (NIV)


Opening Prayer: God of blessings and woes, bless us this day with lives filled with love, caring, generosity, and deep, abiding hope. We pray that your kingdom will dwell among all people, and that we may be instruments of your love and your grace. Open our hearts with the joy of healing a world filled with brokenness and pain. In the name of the one who taught us the ways of light and love, be in our worship and in our very lives. Amen.  (from the Abingdon Worship Annual 2019)

The last several weeks, we have focused on our invitation to follow Jesus, in walking the Way of Love…we have explored the idea that all of us have unique gifts, and ways that God uses each one of us, throughout our entire lives, to spread his love and compassion and care with others we meet….to build up the body of Christ, through loving God, one another, and all of creation…

Today’s gospel reading in Luke follows the part in the story, when the scribes and Pharisees were angry about Jesus’ teaching and healing on the Sabbath day…and they were discussing what to do with him…

Then, the scriptures tell us: that Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Today’s gospel continues with Jesus, coming down from the mountain with his newly called apostles, to stand on a level place, to speak to the large crowd of disciples and other people who came from many places, to hear what Jesus had to say, and to be healed of their diseases.  We sometimes refer to this passage today as the beginning of Jesus’ sermon on the plain. We have also heard today’s particular passages referred to as the “beatitudes.”…meaning blessed…

He begins his sermon, with words about being blessed:

Jesus, looking at his disciples, says: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

And then, as Jesus often does, he gives us another example using opposites, an upside down, topsy-turvy look at what he is trying to help us see…and perhaps, break open our hearts a bit more to make room for a new way of looking at the world around us…as we consider his teaching from a different angle…from the angle of “woe”…a place of sorrow or distress..

 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Blessings and Woes….a part of all of our lives…sometimes we are hungry, sometimes we feel well fed…sometimes we laugh…sometimes we weep and cry… sometimes, it feels as if the world is against us…or on other days, we feel like the world is on our side…

The kingdom of God, the family of God, that Jesus is talking about in his statements about blessing and woes speaks to us, about our life and relationship to one another in this family. He points out to his listeners…that yes…sometimes,  in this family, there are people who are hungry, that are in need…and that those of us, who may not be experiencing hunger presently…are called to be mindful of the neighbor who is hungry, and reach out by sharing as we are called…And at times, there are those among us, who are grieving, while others are celebrating and laughing…and remembering how very quickly our roles in supporting another person in grief, will certainly be switched around in a split second…

At other times, we are called to be mindful, that there are people among us who are being excluded, for a variety of reasons…not just because we are trying to spread the good news of God’s love for ALL his people… on account of the Son of man..

They may be excluded because they are struggling with addiction…. Others face judgment, and ridicule for staying in an abusive relationship…yet others may be unemployed, struggling to get work and provide for their families, and unfairly labeled lazy…There are others who may be oppressed and discriminated against on the basis of their race, culture, religious views, personal identity or lifestyle…

There are people among us, who may feel excluded from receiving the love and blessings of God, as they strive to live into the person that God has created them to be…this may be all of us, at different times throughout our lives…

God’s love is for all people…which means, all of us,  should be taking a look at our own words and actions, in relationship to our neighbors around us…are there ways we are unintentionally excluding others…are there ways we can share more with others…are there ways in which we can listen more deeply to the needs of others… are there times we can learn to be more patient with another when we don’t understand the choices they are making…are there ways that we can get out of the way, with our expectations of another, and just love them and bless them, as we have been loved and blessed by God, and allow them to grow and flourish into the child of God, that God created him or her to be?

For me, that’s an important take away from Jesus’ sermon on the plain today… are there ways that I can get out of the way, with my expectations of another, and just love them and bless them, as I have been loved and blessed by God, and allow them to grow and flourish into the child of God, that God created him or her to be?

I don’t think Jesus’ purpose was to tell us who is in and who is out. I don’t think he was telling us that we have to behave a certain way, in order to be blessed. And I don’t think he is telling us, that that is our purpose or mission in life either…to judge others in that way…

The good news I am hearing today, is that we are loved and blessed as we are. We are being called, right from the place we find ourselves in now, to trust in the Lord’s blessing…be like a tree planted by water, sending out its’ roots by the stream… be sowers of God’s love and blessing. ..be people who plant seeds of hope in other’s lives…be encouraged and uplift others with the Good News that God’s love and blessings are for all people.  Be loved and blessed. Be who you are.

Invite kids up/Read story: Be Who You Are, by Todd Parr

After the story:

*Tell the kids that knowing we are loved and blessed can make us happy…truly happy!

So, let’s sing a song about celebrating being happy:

If You’re happy and you know it:

Clap your hands

Stomp your feet

Shout Amen!


Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska