Weekly Reflection

We have now  returned to ‘normal Sunday worship’ but in response to  requests,  from  time to  time we are printing the text of the Minister’s weekly sermon:  it is printed below.  Please use it for your own personal devotion. 

For those who wish to hear the whole Sunday service that centres on the  reflection, please click on the “Recent Events” page.

Immanuel, 5th November 2023

Micah 3; 1-12    Matthew 23; 1-12

The great, the small, the good, the bad

The November issue of ‘REFORM’ has a very interesting article: “Which book of the Bible should I stop overlooking?”   I thought it was a great challenge, one that I share with you today…what Bible book have you not looked at for a long time? Or even never looked at. I know some people found the Bible notes on Leviticus hard to follow, and I also know that Psalms is a go-to book for so many people. So today we have two readings, one from the Gospel of Matthew, well known and loved for many different reasons, and then Micah, a minor prophet so often ignored, though he does have a verse or two some people may go to.

Let’s then do our best to discover what they have for us in this day and age, given the world situation in which we are reading these passages. What do we know about Micah? That he was a farmer who suffered the policies of the rich which led to wars and injustices. He lived in the eighth century BCE. One day he goes up to Jerusalem to shout out God’s indignation at what is going on. We can group him together with Hosea, Amos, and Isaiah, and if Micah is to be remembered for one verse only, it would be 6:8 – He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

I found this reading particularly challenging given the situation the world is suffering.

  • The rulers are confronted with a terrible question: SHOULD YOU NOT KNOW JUSTICE? You who hate the good and love the evil…cry to the Lord and there will be silence, because they have acted wickedly (vs 1-4)
  • The prophets have been caught up with greed. The only speak PEACE when their mouths are filled and speak WAR when nothing is put in their mouths. Again, the Lord will be silent. There is injustice, and they will be put to shame (vs 5-8)
  • The leaders once again are confronted by the prevailing injustice; these leaders abhor justice, pervert equity, build on blood. They act only if bribed, give oracles for a money…because of you, Zion shall be ploughed as a field, Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins.

Here ends the recognized section of the Book of Micah, what follows is a reinterpretation of Isaiah.

And the reading from Matthew, tells us of Jesus confronting the Scribes and Pharisees – their teachings are a burden for the people, while they parade themselves in ostentation of their roles. They do not work for the people, they do not defend justice, they do not speak the truth; they should not be called Rabbi, Instructor, Teacher…because all that exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (23:12). Do not follow their example (read the prayer/poem printed  below)

The great, the small, the good, the bad…all in these readings. Nothing can be clearer, and this is what those who want to be followers of the values of the Kingdom are called to be and do. It is the way we live our life that will touch the lives of others, not what we say. It is through the lens of these readings that we should look at the reality in which we live and respond. It is tough. It is the narrow way we have been told about, but it is the way of life we are called to live. Amen,

 Loving God, in whose eyes there are no favourites only beloved children: cure our quest for sacred power and status symbols; give us grace to live as learners and servants of your word; through Jesus Christ, who was abased that we might rise.    Amen

Do not follow their example

(In light of Matthew 23; 1-12)

There they are, in broad daylight, no shame at all,

Pharisees of yesterday and of all times.

Look around and you will see who they are

because there is no way you can ignore their presence.

Be careful! Do not follow their example!

They have become specialists in tight and immutable theologies,

but you will never see them laugh, nor hug, and they never cry.

Do not follow their example!

They know of by heart texts, norms and laws,

But they have lost their capacity of see with their eyes and of loving!

They walk around filled with pride for their mouldy moral codes,

and hide their miseries under their shameful carpet.

Do not follow their example!

They condemn, accuse, prejudge, persecute, abuse, their distilled hatred and the poison of their dead doctrines.

Do not follow their example!

They proclaim the justice of their actions, but they have never ever shared in solidarity.

Do not follow their example!

They tightly grab their words and the flag of their life, but constantly pass by the pain of others.

Do not follow their example!

They weekly attend their temple service, but forget the Gospel on the pews as they leave.

Do not follow their example!

They sing, they praise, they confess their sins, but they never live out mercy and compassion.

Do not follow their example!

Their elaborate liturgies are precise and faultless, but empty of flavour, smell and the warmth of life.

Do not follow their example!

Rather, look around, see the people, humble and simple who in the streets dance the good news that does not submit, that sings the rebellion of the rhythm of hope.

Those are the people who in suffering continue to smile, that is the example to follow!


Gerardo Carlos C Oberman (Argentina)

Translation: RHJ


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