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Losing our way?: Matthew

I am working with Celia Kellett at BBC Radio Nottingham on an idea to present most of the books of the Bible, one a week, during 2011 as part of the celebrations of the King James Bible. The plan is to read some verses from the book, to give a one-and-a-half minute summary, to hear a human interest story which relates, and then include a short discussion making the connections.

Here’s the key verses and summary for Matthew (‘Losing our Way?’), to be broadcast this Sunday 30th Jan from 8.20 am:

Verses: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. [Matt 5.3–5]

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. [Matt 5.39]

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. [Matt 5.43–44]

it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God [Matt 19.24]

Summary

Matthew is the first of four gospels, which each give their account of Jesus’ life and teaching. He begins his version in the most extraordinary way—with a genealogy. Most people find the list of ‘Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob’ and so on… very dull—but Matthew is deliberately echoing the Genesis account of the origins of humanity. The arrival of Jesus means a new start for all people.

Key to this is Jesus’ teaching. Matthew organises Jesus’ sayings into five blocks, starting with the verses we heard from the Sermon on the Mount. Here is not just a man from Nazareth, but a new Moses, bring new commandments down from the mountain—a new start for God’s people, a new teaching, and one (everyone exclaims) that comes ‘with authority.’

Even those who don’t agree with the church’s view of Jesus still find his teaching inspiring—life changing even. You don’t have to look very far in contemporary culture to hear people asking ‘How can I make sense of my life?’ ‘How can I tell the difference between right and wrong?’ ‘Is there more to life than shopping?’

When Jesus saw the people of his day asking these questions, looking (the gospels tell us) like ‘sheep without a shepherd’, his response was…to teach them. Teach them how to find meaning and purpose, how to be free from fear, how to find a still centre in this turning—and very confusing—world.

We are planning to contrast this with the lyrics from Lily Allen’s The Fear, which includes these words:

Life’s about film stars and less about mothers
It’s all about fast cars and cussing each other
But it doesn’t matter cause I’m packing plastic
and that’s what makes my life so f****** fantastic

 

And I am a weapon of massive consumption
And its not my fault it’s how I’m programmed to function
I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look in the mirror
I’m on the right track yeah we’re on to a winner

 

I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore
I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore
When do you think it will all become clear?
‘Cause I’m being taken over by the fear

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2 Responses to Losing our way?: Matthew

  1. Louise Tinniswood January 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    This is great. I’ve heard the Lily Allen song dozens of times and it always makes me quite sad. People are searching for ‘stuff’ to make their lives meaningful and fear is an incredible motivating factor now. The TV news encourages people to be afraid of all kinds of things – mainly (I think) to make sure they tune in again the following night. Trust is in short supply – especially now less and less people seem to believe in God. I often feel it’s almost like people are determined to fill their lives with things that give them a small amount of comfort for a short period of time when in fact they could receive complete love and security if they just let Jesus into their lives. When Jesus said ‘You are the salt of the earth’ surely he meant all of us – each individual. Perhaps this is a challenge to us (Christians) to live more publicly as salt and light in a world in much need of both. (Blimey I’m exhausted now – will listen on iPlayer on Sunday).

  2. Louise Tinniswood January 31, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    Just listened to the broadcast on iPlayer (Anna’s very good isn’t she?). Didn’t know the origin of the Lily Allen song – interesting. Song lyrics (writing them and listening to them I guess) can be very powerful. Two that really speak to me are Grace by U2 and Redemption Song by Bob Marley. Songs are a great way to get people to think about things, as are films. I’m sure there’s a dissertation in there for someone.

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