Lectionary Year A--The Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew--the focus of Lectionary Year A--holds together things we find easy to separate: story and speech; Israel and the nations; grace and obedience; heaven and earth. These moments of dynamic tension offer a way into the gospel as a whole. 

            To tell the story of Jesus' ministry, Matthew follows the gospel of Mark's storyline closely. The material that Matthew adds to Mark appears in five long speeches from Jesus. Five times Matthew writes "When Jesus had finished saying these things . . . ," using identical Greek phrasing in each case. These five statements conclude the Sermon on the Mount, a speech when he sends out the disciples, a collection of parables, a chapter on resolving conflict and practicing forgiveness and two chapters on the topic of faithful waiting for the unveiling of the new age. 

            Jesus is Israel's hope and the hope of the nations. As early as Matthew's genealogy for Jesus, and throughout the gospel as a whole, the nations (or gentiles) are in new as people to whom and through whom God's blessing extends. The four women in the genealogy (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the "wife of Uriah") are all foreign to Israel. Listing these women by name points out that the God of Israel has always been working across the boundaries of Israel. 

           The word "hypocrite" is used seventeen times in the entire New Testament--once in Mark, three times in Luke, and fourteen times in Matthew. Throughout Matthews gospel, we read of the need for words and actions to be in sync. At times in Matthew, faithful practice is actually more important than any words spoken. Ion Matthew, Jesus expects those who come after him to obey his teaching. But where is grace in the gospel of Matthew and how is it related to the obedience that constitutes discipleship? Grace is the appearance of "God with us" and in the assurance of the angel's message in Joseph's dream that the baby will "save his people from their sins." 

            In the gospel of Matthew, the kingdom of heaven is not "the place where you go when you die" but rather the time and place where God's will is done perfectly. Matthew's distinction between heaven (above) and earth (below) is spatial as well as a temporal distinction of "now and not yet." In the person and work of Jesus, the time (not yet) and place (heaven) where God's will is lived in its fullness is breaking into this time (now) and place (earth). 


Sermons in Year A 2019-2020

Click on the picture to read the sermon.

  • Advent I, December 1, 2019:  The Divine Thief

    On the first Sunday, the first day of Advent, the gospel of Matthew doesn't offer us the familiar, cozy symbols of Advent and Christmas. No we begin Advent with a wake-up call from Jesus who in a way describes himself as a thief. 

  • Advent IV, December 22, 2019:  Missing Joseph

    Every third year, our lectionary readings turns its spotlight away from Mary and gives the perspective of her would-be husband, a quiet unassuming descendant of the House of David. Our entry point into the Nativity story on this fourth Sunday of Advent this year is not Mary or Elizabeth or John the Baptist. It is Joseph, a quiet carpenter who upends his good life for a dream.

  • Christmas Eve, December 24, 2019:  In this region, In this Time

    What does it matter if Jesus was born "in those days" and "in that region" if he is not also being born in these days and in this region?

  • First Sunday of Christmas, 29 December 2019:  From Flights of Angels to Fleeing to Egypt

    If the words of Hebrews and the Nicene Creed mean anything at all, it means that the depth and measure of God’s joy and thanksgiving that Jesus arrived in Egypt is equaled only by the depth and measure of God’s anger and sorrow when any of his children does not reach a place of refuge and safety.

  • Epiphany of Our Lord, 5 January 2020:  Starry-Eyed and Savvy

    Epiphany reminds us that we can live our lives in a new light. Epiphany reminds us that Jesus, the Light of the world helps us to see all things and even ourselves in new ways.

  • Baptism of Our Lord, 12 January 2020: For you.

    It may often seem that we cannot make much impact in a world where injustice and cruelty seem to rule. Yet we can protect and help heal the bruised reeds around us and protect the struggling flames of those standing next to us. In doing so together, we might just find a way to see how God is calling us--individually and as the church--to share the message the message that God's love and grace are "for you."

  • Epiphany II, 19 January 2020:  Come and See

    In every circumstance of our life, whether good or bad, desired or dreaded, Jesus is calling us to himself. "Come and See"

  • Epiphany III, 26 January 2020:  Callings and turning Points

    Jesus says two things in today's gospel:  "Repent" and "Follow me."  They are both two sides of the same coin. They are both calls to think differently, to see ourselves, others and our world different, to ask different questions and move in a different direction.  The call of Jesus is always a turning point in our lives--one of many turning points throughout our lives.

  • Presentation of our Lord, 2 February 2020:  Receiving God

    The "old faithfuls" Simeon and Anna lived their lives in expectation, in anticipation, and waiting. Who among us has hot had their life characterized by expectation, anticipation, and waiting? All of us have stood in that place wondering if today is the day--is this the day we still believe in God's future or is this the day we give up and walk away.

  • Epiphany V, 9 February 2020:  Salty and Life-Giving L ives

    Who are you? I'm guessing you might answer by giving your name and some other information about where you work or your hobbies. I'm pretty sure you never answered by saying, "I'm the salt of the earth. I'm the light of the world."  And yet . . . Jesus says that's who we are.

  • Epiphany VI, 16 February 2020: But I say to you . . .

    What do we do when we find ourselves saying, "that doesn't sound like the Jesus I know"?  Who among us really wants to wrestle with Jesus telling us that if we are angry with someone, or insult someone, or call someone a fool we are "liable" to judgment and hellfire.  And, yet . . . we can't just ignore these sayings because of who is saying them. So what is Jesus trying to tell us?

  • Transfiguration of Our Lord, 23 February 2020: You are you!

    Few among us have not known moments of surprised illumination when someone we thought we knew fairly well is suddenly revealed in a completely new light? Often we don't know who is who or or in whose company we are. After all, how well do we know each other, or even who we are ourselves? What makes us think we know God any better?

  • Ash Wednesday, 26 February 2020:  The End of the Beginning

    There are so many paradoxes that are part of Ash Wednesday. For instance, we pray that we will be washed clean while we dirty up our faces with ashes. One of the other paradoxes that has always struck me about Ash Wednesday is that we begin the Season of Lent by remembering the end. Your ending and my ending marks the beginning of the new season we call Lent. Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.