Welcome to our congregation! Open Arms presents basic Christian faith. If you are investigating Christianity, or if you are a follower of Christ who prefers contemporary worship, these services are designed especially for you. While we use up-to-date language, music, and drama, our Bible-based message is as eternal as the revelation of God's love through the life of Jesus.
Matthew 18:1-3 NRSV
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
This meditation follows the format of Daily Bread, a Community of Christ resource that is available for daily meditation. It includes a short message, a short excerpt from the Daily Prayer for Peace, a spiritual discipline, and a statement of a peace covenant.
Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. —Matthew 5:39–42 NRSV
In today's scripture passage, Jesus uses parody to empower and preserve the dignity of victims of injustice. In the honor-shame culture of the Mediterranean, there were strict norms governing relationships. Failure to follow these norms resulted in shame and humiliation. When confronting a social equal with physical aggression, financial penalties were levied against the aggressor. Striking with a fist incurred a fine equal to a day's wage, but striking with the back of the hand meant a fine equal to 100 days of wages because it was a gesture intended to humiliate.
Striking people of unequal status did not carry such penalties. In the right-handed culture of the first century, striking the right cheek of a person of less social stature was not an act of aggression but an act of subjugation. In response to this humiliation, Jesus says to turn the other cheek.
Turning the other cheek means the perpetrator of the strike cannot hit with the backhand. It cannot be a strike of humiliation. This act of defiance turns the table on the one striking and lifts the status of the oppressed. Turning the other cheek is not an act of submission; rather in first-century Palestine, it is a just act that empowers the poor. Dignity and honor are restored to the one oppressed.
How does Jesus call us to empower, with dignity and honor, the oppressed in your culture?
--Mark Euritt of Austin, TX, USA
God is with us.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Ordinary time is a season for awakening to God's presence in all the details and circumstances of our everyday, ordinary lives. Wherever you are, pay attention to your surroundings. Allow yourself to be fully present for a time with whatever is before you. Where do you sense God with you right now exactly where you are?
How does today's story invite you to discover God in the realities of your everyday life?