In today’s passage, the apostle Paul insists that Jesus Christ is
the only foundation for the Christian faith and the Christian
life. This fits beautifully with the theme of God’s holiness that
we have been developing over the last few days. In ages past, we
have seen God draw near to creation on mountaintops, in burning
bushes, in the altar of the tabernacle, and in the word of the
Lord that comes through the mouths of prophets. But in Jesus
Christ, we have seen God draw near in the most unthinkable of
ways, becoming incarnate in human flesh and thereby subject to
all that befalls creation, including suffering and death.

It really is mind-boggling that the One who utterly transcends
creation would freely accept all the limitations of
creaturely life in order to heal and renew the world. But this
is precisely what we learn about God in the coming of Jesus
Christ; namely, that God will stop at nothing to bring about the
healing and renewal of God’s good creation. Moreover, we learn
that, with respect to God’s holiness, Jesus’ coming ultimately
trumps radical otherness. Indeed, whatever else we think we
know about God, because of Jesus Christ we now know that
God has determined always to be drawing near to creation,
which is to say, to be coming toward us.

When we say that Jesus Christ is the foundation of our faith,
we do not simply bear witness to a coming that has already
taken place. We also anticipate a coming that has yet to take
place. We look forward in faith and hope to the second coming
of our Lord. But there is more. We believe that in the power of
the Holy Spirit, the risen Lord draws near to us even now. He
draws near in a thousand places and a thousand ways.

Holy God, when we meditate on the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ, we are overwhelmed. Help us, O God, to draw near to you even as you draw near to us this day in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 5:38-48

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Lectionary Week
February 13–19, 2017
Scripture Overview

These texts evidence relentless concern with the moral requirements that belong to life with the God of the Bible. They assume the foundation of covenantal law in God’s rescuing acts. That foundation is implicit in undergirding these several treatments of God’s commands. The psalmist is aware that the commands of God constitute a radical counter-obedi- ence. The text from Leviticus brings us to the core claims of cov- enantal law. The rule of the God of Israel leads directly to focus on the neighbor. The neighbor is not just an inconvenience or an intrusion but is the stuff of moral awareness. Paul’s admonitions to the Corinthian Christians state the bold claim that Jesus Christ is the central focus of every Christian’s commitment. The Gospel reading invites the community to reflect on, imagine, and devise extra measures of neighbor love that reflect the character of God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18. What would be some signs that you are attaining the holiness God desires?
• Read Psalm 119:33-40. The writer states that “Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to perfect it.” How did/does Jesus do that?
• Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23. Consider how these two statements relate to your life: “We do not have to be morally perfect before God will dwell within us” and “We can be morally impure after God comes to dwell with us.”
• Read Matthew 5:38-48. What instances in your life show that you “reject the call for retaliation or revenge in favor of the higher calling of forgiveness”?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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