Kathie Ryan, ARCWP, and Lindy Sanford, ARCWP, led the Upper Liturgy with the theme: Serving One Another. Kathie’s homily starter is below her welcome statement along with the readings for this liturgy.
Kathie’s Welcome: Our Theme- today is serving one another. Every now and then you hear mention of the Jesus Seminar. This was a group of theologians and scholars who studied the scriptures together for 6 years in search of “What did Jesus really say?” When Lindy and I were preparing for today’s liturgy we looked first at this book. We printed out the gospel today as it is seen in the Gospels of the Jesus Seminar. Red print-words attributed to Jesus, black print-most likely not- gray-may not be his exactly but reflect his ideas. (There was pink too –words that could be his but might have some modifications.) Studying and reading scripture with an understanding of how it came to be improves our ability to live those words.
Kathie’s Homily Starter: In this Gospel the Jesus scholars have the verses divided into three parts. The first part in black, have Jesus reminding his listeners of Moses and the Law followed by a reminder to follow the Law but don’t act the way the Pharisees and other religious leaders were acting. The Law that is very obvious to the listeners at the time is the “greatest commandment” to Love God, and Love your Neighbor as yourself.
The following verses in red are attributed to Jesus. Jesus is really speaking out here. He is speaking truth to power.
He is risking himself by these targeted criticisms and we know where that risk will eventually take him. Jesus is telling his listeners then, and to us now, go back to the basics, reminding us what is most important Love God--- serve and love one another.
The last verses are attributed to Jesus because they are consistent with what Jesus taught. This is a saying or proverb that is very well know, sort of a refrigerator magnet today: those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. What does it mean to humble yourself…in a nutshell it means love God by serving and loving one another.
Often you and I get caught up in the details of everyday life, we are in a rush and may be short tempered with someone, or we think a task should be done a certain way and become frustrated with those around us, we lose sight of the person we are with. Jesus lived a servant’s life and over and over again reminded us that serving and loving one another is what’s most important. Serving and loving is why we were born.
What did you hear in these readings? What will you do? What will it cost you?
A Reading from Psalms for Praying by Nan Merrill
Most gracious presence let me not be arrogant, nor boast of my virtuous deeds;
Let me not seek fame or set my heart on the riches of the world.
Help me to calm and quiet my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast;
Like a child who is quieted, be so my soul.
I shall be at peace in You, O Breath of my breath,
From this time forth and forever more.
Our community affirms these words by saying AMEN.
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew
Jesus told the crowds and the disciples saying, “The religious scholars and Pharisees have exceeded Moses as teachers; therefore, perform every observance they tell you to. But don’t follow their example; even they don’t do what they say. They tie up heavy loads and lay them on others’ shoulders, while they themselves will not lift a finger to help alleviate the burden.
All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and wear huge tassels. They are fond of places of honor at banquets and front seats in synagogues. They love respectful greetings in public and being called ‘Rabbi’.
But as for you, avoid the title ‘Rabbi.’ For you only have one teacher, and all of you belong to the same family. And don’t call any one on earth ‘mother or father.’ You have only one parent-the Holy One of Creation. You have only one instructor-the Anointed One.
The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.
These are the inspired words of Matthew, disciple of Jesus. The community affirms these words by saying AMEN>