The apostle Paul was so focused on succeeding in his mission to persuade listeners about the person and significance of Jesus Christ that he stripped his message and himself to essentials. He abandons “lofty words” and complex spiritual probing and forsakes relying upon his strength and confidence. This stripping not only eliminates impressive yet confusing forms of speech but also makes a way for the power of the Spirit to be evident. Paul’s testimony is an example of subtracting in order to add, of decreasing in order to increase.

Over the years I have heard effusive introductions that noted a person’s educational attainment, vocational accomplishments, achievement awards, and so on. The contents of someone’s résumé were spoken of to authenticate the person’s significance. However, I have been most inspired by introductions in which someone was simply introduced as “genuine” or “tender-hearted” or “a loving spirit” or “my dearest friend” or “passionate for justice.” The single word or phrase expressed more about one’s essential character than a long list of achievements.

Simplicity can be the most effective means of delivering a message—simplicity in delivery and simplicity of the message itself. What do you interpret as the simple message of living the faith? Write it in your journal or on a piece of paper. Speak it. Plan to revisit what you have written to affirm and/or revise this message. If your message is based upon a biblical text, identify it. Reflect on how your message is based on your experience of the Spirit of God being active in your life and in the world.

Dear God, so often our overflowing thoughts and feelings about your presence in our lives impel us to use a mound of words to capture the experience. Relieve us from such futile efforts, and release in us the simple truth that instructs us on the journey. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 5:13-20

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Lectionary Week
February 3–9, 2020
Scripture Overview

According to another counterfeit gospel, our inward convictions about God are enough, so our actions do not really matter. Isaiah chastises his audience for being half-hearted in their religious observance. They ignore the plight of the oppressed and the poor, and by doing so they betray that they do not grasp the heart of God. The psalmist argues that the true faithful are steadfast and generous, and as a result God establishes them and their cause. The understanding of God’s view of the world, Paul writes, must be spiritually discerned, for it opposes the normal thinking of the world. In Matthew, Jesus tells his followers that living faith is shown by bringing flavor and light to the world. Otherwise, our faith is useless to those around us.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Isaiah 58:1-12. What can you do to be a foundation of many generations, the repairer of the breach for your community?
Read Psalm 112:1-10. How have you seen God’s blessings abound from your faithfulness? How do you remain faithful when God’s blessings seem absent?
Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-16. Consider the many ways wisdom comes. How do you seek to understand God’s wisdom?
Read Matthew 5:13-20. When does your faith community resist the call to be the salt of the earth and light of the world? How can you transform yourself or those around you to fulfill God’s commandments?

Respond by posting a prayer.

This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.