Saints of Old & Saints Today

Matthew 5:17-24

Who’s really Great in God’s Kingdom? – a real Saint!

Jesus: “Change your way of thinking, for the kingdom of heaven has come near!” Thinking about Saint Patrick’s day. Also about the growth of faith in Jesus in Asia, Africa, etc. The distinctive forms of churches, music, organization, architecture.

Is St. Patrick a saint? In what sense? Someone canonized? Someone great in Christianity? What does that mean? The word “saints” is used in many NT translations. What does it mean? “Holy” (hagios)! Is that some special achievement in religion? Martyrdom?

Jesus and the Law and the Prophets

Many in Jesus time wanted to be God’s “holy people.” Most movements wanted to create a purified people. Especially the Pharisees with Teachers of Law, famous for rigorous obedience to Torah. They condemned Jesus’ lack of rigor – “tax collectors & sinners.”

This Little Light of Mine

Matthew 5:13-16

What is Jesus Saying?
In talking about resurrection through the phrase, “Light of the World,” we have talked about Jesus. He says, “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12). He illumines ever person. God shines in our hearts to show his glory in the face of Jesus in his amazing self-giving love in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. We are changed by the encounter.
Jesus brings that change to a sharp point in the Sermon on the Mount: Galilee crowds, sick and suffering, Jesus’ new disciples. He begins with Beatitudes: “Blessed are they...,” but at the end turns it to “Blessed are you...,” insulted, persecuted, slandered. What?
It’s then that he says “You are the salt...the light of the world!” Who me? I’m just one more burdened disciple, needing healing, scared of insults. But Jesus states it as fact. True?
Think of Jesus’ options for the Kingdom of God: Miraculous intervention; political takeover as messiah king, “mass communication” (J.C.Superstar) many others. Why is he on a hillside with crowds seeking help? Challenging these poor folks with the “Sermon.”

The Joy of a King without an Army

Matthew 21:1-14

A Week of Joy and awful Foolishness
Palm Sunday leads to Easter – two celebrations bracketing startling, awful events: conflict, betrayal, abandonment, injustice, torture, crucifixion. This year Easter is April 1 –April Fool’s. It’s there from the start: It’s a fool’s tale: “The word of the cross is foolishness...” (1Cor 1:18). 
And for many of the wise of our day it still is. Actually, for everyone! The foolishness is built in. In this series of events God intends to challenge all our assumptions of how things are: What it means to be strong, to make a real difference, to show glory and power, even God’s. We all, even much of the church, think we know better what’s smart, powerful, glorious, wise. 
And then there’s that young man! Astride a little donkey, riding down the hill toward the brilliant marble and gold of Herod’s vast temple, with the fortress of Rome’s soldiers, toward death. 

The Reality and Generosity of God

Matthew 6:19-34

Heaven and Earth through Jesus’ Eyes
We start a New Year not in a freezing crowd in Times Square, but in a crowd on a mountain with Jesus. Even the poorest among us can hardly imagine this crowd from Galilee towns. No medicine, police, grocery, banks; few schools; no political voice, no technology. But still like us, human, hoping, wanting a better life, identity, wanting help to understand. What do you say to powerless, struggling people, gathered because of suffering, desire?
Jesus does not condescend with platitudes. He teaches them, reshaping theology, ethics, anthropology, cosmology through powerful images that still challenge every real listener.