Sunday, January 22 – “People in Covenant”

View this recorded version of Sunday Worship from January 22, 2023.

Bible Verses

I Corinthians 1: 1:10-18 and Matthew 4:12-23

Reflection: People in Covenant

Excerpts from the reflection by Rev. Dr. Fred Grewe:

“I want… to try to explain to you a little bit about what Jesus may have meant when he said these words in the gospel of Matthew: ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near’, the very first message proclaimed by Jesus.

[From the Greek translation] which literally means, ‘change your thinking and put your trust in the Good News.’ So ‘change’, the word metanoó, the Greek word that we translate into English as ‘repent’, literally means ‘change your thinking’.

Now I know, numerous preachers in numerous places over centuries have used this work to beat people up, which means you better clean your act up. You better stop doing bad and start doing good. That’s what repent means.

But in its origin it means ‘change your thinking’, and I think, what Jesus may be suggesting to us is that if we change our thinking, our behavior will follow–because what we think and what we believe has direct impact on how we behave. So if we can change our thinking, our behavior will follow. Oh, it’s not change our behavior first, it’s change our thinking first.

And and what is it that we think that’s not good, that we need to change?

And I would suggest what Jesus is saying, particularly in Mark’s rendition of this message is, change your thinking that God is out to get you, that God wants to squash you like some bug, like you are some horrible, horrible thing that is so distasteful, that needs fixed.

God already loves you, just as you are, so change your thinking. You’re already accepted, you already approved, your already loved. Relax. Believe the Good News.

See, the way this text is often preached, how is it Good News? I fail to see. How is it Good news? If you clean your act up, if you get yourself together, then, then maybe God will like you. That’s not good news. If I could clean my act up, if I can get myself together, I’d have done it years ago, and the truth is, I can’t by myself.

And so the great Good News is that we are loved, and that we can live in the kingdom of heaven now. Not be motivated by our behavior, simply reacting to the voices in our head that fill us with fear.

You’re not enough. You don’t have enough. You’re not good enough You’re not acceptable. And push all those buttons to make us behave in ways that we eventually become ashamed of. So we don’t have to live in that kingdom, the kingdom of fear. We can now live in the… realm of God instead of the realm of fear. That is now possible because of the great Good News that you and I are loved, just as neurotic and crazy and overweight and bald, young and educated and uneducated and no matter what our sexual orientation, no matter what our gender, no matter where we came from, no matter who our parents were, just as we are. We’re loved.

I know this may sound radical to you, but I think that’s what Jesus is suggesting with this word: ‘Repent!’

And that to me the tragedy is that for thousands of years preachers like me have you used this word in this message to take the radical love offered by Jesus, and made it a conditional love that was for a select few that behaved or believed in a certain way.”