ICF - Professions of Faith

Sunday 29th January 2023 - 4th Sunday after Epiphany

hands at computer screen Micah 6:1-8 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 Matthew 5:1-12 Psalm 15

If there is one over-arching theme that emerges from today's readings, it is that the language and ideals that we repeat in our worship, should be lived out in our everyday lives. This offers itself as something that can be naturally applied to our engagement in the world of work. The prophet Micah makes the point unequivocally, the worship that God requires is not achieved by ever more elaborate religious ceremony, but by organising society in ways that are just, by embracing mercy and by humility in the face of God. This is echoed again in Psalm 15, where the qualifications for entry into God's house are rooted in the ways we engage in commerce, business and the life of our communities.

The theme of humility is present again in the New Testament epistle as those who are prone to boast are invited to boast in the Lord. This could be used to invite a congregation to reflect on some of the ways that individuals and corporations have become embroiled in scandal, dubious practice or have inflicted harm on others. Success and status can all too easily generate a sense of unbridled power - we might usefully consider how our world might be different if the prophet's invitation to humbly acknowledge our accountability to God was more widely heeded.

The words of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel, commonly called the Beatitudes, offer a further opportunity to reflect on the values and priorities with which we engage in our day to day roles and responsibilities. In a world that tends to measure worth and reward in largely economic terms, there are some poignant reminders of the things that God considers worthy of recognition. The individual elements might also bring to mind specific areas of work that could be included in intercessions. This might include peace envoys and peacemakers, those who bring comfort to the grieving and mourning, those who work as advocates for the disadvantaged and persecuted, those who work to address issues of inequality and poverty etc.