Many churches, Protestants and ecumenical gatherings, as well, may be celebrating on this day a special worship service that commemorates this year as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It is that celebration that Pastor Kolderup refers to in the following:
While not every preacher will choose to connect the Sunday readings to the coming week's anniversary of the protest of Martin Luther, we have a reading that closes out the remarkable life of Moses and gives us opportunity to review his leadership in the life of God's people. He is the first of the great prophets in Israel's tradition and Matthew's Gospel evokes the memory of Moses in its structure and in his teaching.
If this is indeed going to be a Sunday in which other leaders in the faith are celebrated, Moses is an excellent starting place. If the Reformation was about leaders who sought to focus on what is central in God's salvation, Moses can be honored as one who most intimately lived the covenant relationship between God and Israel. Their returning to the center of the faith was tied to his continuing instruction and intercession. –– Stephen C. Kolderup
In these readings, the preacher can find many connections between the faith of the Hebrew people and the followers of Christ Jesus as the Messiah. One of the writers for Homily Service in 2008 offers this question to ponder:
It would not be Reformation Sunday without saying, “Thanks be to God for new life in Christ,” and asking, “What is the Holy Spirit reforming in us today?” –– Robin K. Brown
The interchange between Jesus and the religious leaders ends with his question to them about the Messiah. We may not appreciate the scriptural ploy that Jesus used to trap the Pharisees in their answer about David. Many of us grew up being suspicious of so-called proof texting and this at first feels like Jesus out-dueling the players at their own game. However, Jesus was just as serious in his discussion of scripture as were the Pharisees. For all of them it was worth delving into the word of God and discussing the matter at hand in light of the study.
Classic Jewish writings are full of lively discussion aimed at being faithful from day to day. Sometimes these discussions reopened matters thought to be decided and closed. One such topic was the Messiah's identity as the son of David. While this could be accepted as true, Jesus was proposing that there was more truth about the Messiah. Jesus' use of Psalm 110:1 invites his debaters to step outside that box and consider the Messiah to be even greater. That greatness would not be an extension of David's military and political achievements.
As Jesus would demonstrate, the Messiah would be revealed in rejection, suffering, and death. On many days, we stand with the Pharisees, stuck inside the box of Messianic expectations that avoid the cross. The last question is still waiting for an answer—from us. –– Stephen C. Kolderup
Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
In Leviticus 19. . . [the] central theme is holiness, regarded as the end of law. Israel becomes holy (1:1) as it meets the norms God set in the law and participates in divine intent. To emphasize this point, each exhortation to obey God's commands is followed by the declaration, “I am the Lord.” This emphasis on holiness and its ethical import serves as a midrash upon the first line of the Shema, quoted by Jesus as the first commandment. The selection from this chapter concludes with the verse Jesus quoted for his second commandment (Lev. 19:18). –– Fritz West
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
[This passage] recounts that Paul and his companions when proclaiming the Gospel persevered despite difficulties (2:1–2), distinguished themselves from contemporary philosophers (2:3–6), and nurtured the Thessalonian Christians as one would a child (vv 7b–8). –– Fritz West
Robin K. Brown, a Lutheran pastor, is the Associate Director, ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal at the ELCA headquarters in Chicago.
Stephen C. Kolderup, a PCUSA pastor, recently served as temporary pastor to Frenchtown Presbyterian Church, Frenchtown, New Jersey.
Fritz West, a liturgical author and retired pastor of the United Church of Christ living in Minnesota, serves as the Presiding Member of the Association for Reformed & Liturgical Worship Steering Committee.
Homily Service 41, no. 4 (2008): 90-99.