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So what does Matthew say to us?

Much, I would suggest. Here are a couple of thoughts and questions.

• Immanuel, God-with-us: How, specifically, does Matthew's affirmation of God's forgiving, ever-abiding, gracious, challenging presence impact our lives?

• Although we don't live in Rome's empire, we do live in an empire. The United States is arguably the most powerful, wealthy and militarily dominant nation in the world's history. What does 20:25-28 say to us?

• We live in an economic empire where the few own enormous wealth and many in our global village lack even the most basic necessities. Daily our minds absorb messages from the evangelists of the great god Mammon.

Advertisements urge us to acquire more and more stuff, to define ourselves by it, to seek security, importance, status, prominence, worth, from the stuff we own. Or does it own us? What does 6:9-13 or 6:19-34 including 6:24 say to us and to our ever-present obsession with the "bottom line" and sense of entitlement to have whatever we want? What might it mean for us to be prophets to the profit-makers, challenging their priorities and commitments? What alternative do we offer?

• And there is this Gospel's obsession with God's reign. How do we live that focus in a society obsessed with "having fun" and "being cool." How "fun," how "cool," is carrying the cross?



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