Secondary Source: The Sermon on the Mount: A Beginners Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven Dr. Amy-Jill Levine Abingdon Press 2020
Thesis: Concluding the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to fortify the close knit fabric of community, seek new ways to expand our circles of compassion, and witness to His limitless love. And although the road might not be easy, we find abundant life when caring for our neighbors as ourselves.
Remember What We’ve Built:
- People should know we are disciples because they see God more fully through us and our actions.
- We are all made in the image of God which should significantly impact the way we view and treat one another.
- The Sermon on the Mount was originally preached to committed disciples; these were people who already formed a covenantal community and were “sold out” in following Jesus’ way of life.
- Dr Amy-Jill Levine suggests an alternate reading of “Ask…Seek…Knock…” Since Jesus was speaking to people committed disciples, he suggests that any one of them in need should be able to rely on that close knit fabric of that community.
- During the pandemic, Broadway UMC has modeled that love and commitment to community. From our Pastor’s Fund, we were able to make significant financial investment to folks from our church in need. We were also able to partner with Kids and Co. to expand our circle of compassion to children in our broader community.
- On March 25, a suggested Scripture reading is the Magnificat from the first chapter of Luke. Since this date is exactly 9 months from Christmas, the presumption is that during this week, the Angel Gabriel would have appeared to Mary. As we ponder Palm Sunday and Holy Week, we recognize the irony that Mary did not ask to be the mother of Jesus, nor was it the easiest road. Yet, she responded with boldness, “Ok God, I’m ready.”
- Sometimes God does not answer prayer in ways we expect. At the same time, sometimes God works through us in ways we didn’t ask for. In these times, will we echo Mary’s response, “Ok God, we’re ready.”
- The Conclusions:
In his conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls back to the Golden Rule: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
- He is reminding us that we are called to maintain and strengthen the fabric of close knit community.
- He is also calling us to expand our circles of compassion, including more people as we grow into likeness and love of Christ.
- Finally, he reminds us that the road is not easy. While nothing about loving our neighbor as ourselves is easy, that is exactly where we will find abundant life.
Call to Action and Response: Re-read the Sermon on the Mount once more. Consider how loving our neighbors as ourselves and maintaining close relationships and community informs the entirety of Matthew 5-7. If we are all truly made in the image of God, this should inform every single interaction – despite our very human experiences of frustration and relational tension. Lastly, when God calls us to expand our circle of compassion in new and challenging ways, be ready to respond like Mary, “Ok God, I’m ready.”