Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Planted by Streams of Water

In the Gospel of Luke we have certain sayings of Jesus which echo those he said during his Sermon on the Mount, found in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus mentions two distinct groups of people. Let us begin with the first group:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.

“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.”   (Luke 6:20-22)

The people are described in this group are characterized as poor, hungry, weeping, and hated. This is the way that the world would describe them. Jesus calls them blessed.

Let us look at the second group:

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.

“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.

“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.

“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”   (Luke 6:23-26)

In this group the people are described as rich, full, laughing, and spoken well of. Again, these aer the words of the world. Jesus says “woe” to them. It is clear that God judges differently from the world.

God judges where our feet or planted. The World recognizes approves of only those people whose feet are planted in the world.

The psalmist wrote:

Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

Their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and they meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;
everything they do shall prosper.   (Psalm 1:1-3)

This same thought is echoed in our Old Testament reading:

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
    sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
    and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
    and it does not cease to bear fruit.   (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

People planted in the world often seem to be doing well. But then the year of the drought comes. The world has no staying power. It rewards those who are worldly. But the rewards are empty. Jesus said:

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.   (Luke 6:24)

The riches are the consolation. When they are gone so is the consolation,

What does the world say about us? Does it speak well of us? Then woe to us! The world hates Jesus. Have we offered no evidence that Jesus is our Lord? Jesus said:

“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”   (Matthew 10:32-33)

What does God say about us? That depends on where we are planted. Are we planted in the Word of God, watered by the Holy Spirit? If so, then we are blessed. Do we trust God more than the world? If so, we are blessed. If our delight is in the law of the Lord and we meditate on it day and night, then we are blessed.

In other words, who is feeding us? Is it the world? How many of us realize that the new media is designed to depress us? We need to get into the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus has paid the price for our sin. He has risen and sits at the righthand of God the Father.

How many of us know that the entertainment media is not designed to stimulate the soul? It may stir our emotions for a moment, but then we come crashing down,

God has the perfect place for us to be planted. He is the master gardener. We read in the Book of Isaiah:

The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.   (Isaiah 58:11)

Where are we planted? Are we “trees planted by streams of water?”

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Filed under Epiphany, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year C

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