2018-19 RCL-C Sixth Sunday After Epiphany
Additional Resources for Proclamation & Preaching
Epiphany 06: February 17, 2019 • Gospel Text: Luke 6:17-26
The Plain Sermon
Proclamation for Today
by Rev. Dr. Clint Schnekloth
All readers of this text should be somewhat disconcerted, because Jesus is powerfully healing while simultaneously speaking words of warning. It’s kind of like a doctor bandaging a wound while also scolding. Although a lot depends upon a particular way of reading this text: is there a preferential option for the poor in Luke, or not?
If there is not, then the healing and the sermon on the plain are addressed to everyone equally. Each of us receives healing from Christ while also receiving challenge.
If, on the other hand, we are to imagine different groups of people based their economic class, then this one sermon, and all the healing Jesus is doing, means one thing to one group, and another thing to another group. If we go with this read, we take the structure of the sermon on the plain at face value. “Woe to you who are rich.” “Blessed are you who are poor.”
The preferential option for the poor is a basic principle of Catholic social teaching. It emerged out of the Latin American experience and theology of the 20th century. “This love of preference for the poor, and the decisions which it inspires in us, cannot but embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without health care and, above all, those without hope of a better future“ (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church). As on many matters, one way to burrow down into the preferential option for the poor is to read the Wikipedia entry on it, which is excellent and links to a variety of external resources.
Presumably, given the middle-class captivity of much of North American Christianity, most if not all of us preparing to preach Sunday are preaching to the comparably rich more than the comparably poor, although any given congregation will include rich and poor. The tricky part of this is cross-communication. How do you preach to the rich the woes without the poor also receiving the woes? How do you preach to the poor the blessings without the rich thinking they are blessed? Perhaps this is a Sunday to split the sermon up into parts, and say quite clearly, “This part of the sermon is to those of you who are living below the poverty line (making $25000 or less as a family of four). This other part of the sermon is for those of you making more than that.”
The following links and resources are not produced or maintained by RCL Worship Resources or Clergy Stuff. However, at the time of this posting, the links were active and considered to be good source material for proclamation for the text for this week. Please scroll down or click on the quick jump menu you find below. Click here for more free RCL worship resources & planning materials.
Historical Exegetical Resources
"Sermon on the Plain Part 1: Blessed Are the Telegenic??" Sea Raven, Liberal Christian Commentary, 2010.
Wellspring of the Gospel, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Catherine McElhinney and Kathryn Turner, Weekly Wellsprings.
Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours,Luke 6:17-26, David Ewart, 2013.
"Honoring the Dishonored: The Cultural Edge of Jesus' Beatitudes," Jerome H. Neyrey.
"In Search of Happiness," children's sermon, coloring page. Charles Kirkpatrick, Sermons 4 Kids.
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Dramatic Reading of the Text
Readers: Narrator, Jesus 1, Jesus 2
Narrator: He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
Jesus 1: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
Jesus 2: “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.”
Jesus 1: “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
Jesus 2: “Blessed are you when people hate you, and 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.”
Jesus 1: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”
Jesus 2: “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.”
Jesus 1: “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.”
Jesus 2: “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”