Moravian Church in North America

In Essentials, Unity; In Nonessentials, Liberty; In All Things, Love.

Moravian Church in North America
North: Bethlehem, Pa.
South: Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Weekly Moravian Message, January 1, 2017

First Sunday after Christmas

Threatened by Jesus

Herod was a wise man. He knew Jesus was a threat. So he tried to kill him, in what we call the slaughter of the innocents, a preemptive strike against a political rival.

Is Jesus a threat? To us?

Matthew 1 gives a genealogy of Jesus, his Jewish ancestry. But then in Matthew 2 the wise men, non-Jews from the East, come to worship Jesus; then Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt, the coun-try of the onetime slave masters of the Jews. And Matthew closes his Gospel with the Great Commission: “Go into all the world!”

So Jesus is a threat to Jesus’ fellow Jews who believe God is concerned only or primarily about Jews. And Jesus is a threat to us if we believe God is concerned only or primarily about us, as Amer-icans, or Canadians, or Jamaicans—or whoever we think we are.

In Matthew 4 Jesus invites some fishermen, “Follow me.” And in Matthew 5–7, which we name the Sermon on the Mount, he gives a picture of what following him means.

If we think we have become what we think God wants us to be, the Sermon is pretty threatening. Jesus declares, “The tradition, what you have heard, is just a start. If you are satisfied with who you are, at ease with how you have used what God has given you, I say that God is not done with you. You can be much more for God and your neighbors than you have been.”

There is a bit of Herod in each of us. We see in Jesus someone appealing, someone inviting. But we also see someone frightening, someone threatening, who asks us to be different persons and a different society.

What will we do with this threatening Jesus? Are we wiser than Herod?

Hermann Weinlick, retired pastor, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Moravian Church

Moravian Daily Texts


Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Watchword for the Week — Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35

Sunday, September 23 — Jeremiah 11:18–20; Psalm 54
James 3:13–4:3,7–8a; Mark 9:30–37

I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31:34

John wrote: My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1

Gracious Advocate, so often we go off on our own and lose our way. We take our eyes off of you and selfishly focus on the world. Thank you for not abandoning us to ourselves. Thank you for bringing us back into loving communion with you. In the name of Christ, our redeemer, we pray. Amen.

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