Lectionary Preaching Notes from the lens of UCC Humanitarian and Development Ministries
(Disaster, Refugee and Global Sustainable Development)
These ministries are made possible by your participation in the
One Great Hour of Sharing Offering (UCC)
Luke 6: 17-26
Preaching Focus: From a position of power with, not power over, Jesus makes the people whole. The agents of healing in the midst of disaster or displacement are often unexpected.
Interpretation and Informing Stories
In Luke 6, Jesus once again is teaching who he is by what he does. This passage is preceded by lessons in a grain field, provoked by those who question his work on the Sabbath. Jesus demonstrates that the wellbeing of those usually forgotten is the criteria of the religious law; whether that be companions of David who are hungry or a man with a shriveled hand who stretches it out and has it restored. After a break for discernment, when Jesus has gone off by himself to pray all night, he emerges to call 12 leaders whom he names disciples and apostles. Again, Luke shows us how Jesus teaches them who he is and who they are to be, by what he does. The first lesson of those disciples is to accompany Jesus down to a level place (a plain) and to stand among people from all over the world; and with all kinds of needs. Luke gives us many details of who Jesus is standing among. With all this detail, it must be important! And then, we hear the litany of blessings and woes as Luke hears them, in the midst of this crowd.
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, 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.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have already 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.
When we place ourselves on that plain amongst that crowd that day, either as a visitor from a far country or one of those newly chosen disciples and apostles, we gain a glimpse into how we too can follow Jesus. The agents of that comfort, that feeling, that laughing and inclusion, however, just may not be who we expect. It might even be us.
Blessed are you who are poor or who hunger now. . .
The purpose of sustainable agriculture ministries of the UCC is not just about growing crops but of sustaining communities. The Nicaragua Rio Coco project works with host communities of people living in extreme poverty in a remote area vulnerable to natural disasters. Innovative farming concepts are developed in 15 indigenous and mestizo rural communities to improve food security by helping farmers improve their farming and soil management techniques, strengthening knowledge of nutrition and coordinating work with the local government. Expectant mothers and families with young children seek the advice of a visiting community health agent. With workshops of cooking and how to combine the vegetables they gown, the health of mother and child improves. Participants also learn how to market and sell their surplus produce, and the extra income is helping meet other needs..
. . .for you will be in God’s presence and you will be filled…
Blessed are you who weep or are excluded. . . .
Community health ministries of the UCC around the world promote health as holistic health. Christian Medical College & Hospital Ludhiana in India, for example, reaches out to the marginalized and to the poorest of the poor in slum areas of the city. Some clinics are at fixed locations while mobile clinics work in 30 other slum areas. Eye camps, dental camps, cancer screening help reduce the burden of illness on the poor and also strengthen their meager financial resources.
. . . for you will laugh and you will be made whole
“We Yearn, O Christ, or Wholeness” New Century Hymnal 179
Engagement: Join the Conversation on OGHS Facebook
Name an unexpected agent of healing in your life.