February 16, 2020

Again this week, we are reading a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-37). Here, he offers us a detailed set of instructions that focus on our relationships with one another. He says; “Not only don’t murder, but don’t become angry or insult one another or call each other names, not only don’t cheat on your partner, but don’t even look at anyone lustfully, not only keep the vows that you make, but always be honest so that you don’t need to make a vow in the first place.”

This is actually an impossible standard that Jesus has set for us. We should all be walking around with torn-out eyes, cut-off tongues and severed hands because we all fail to meet this standard that he has set for us multiple times each and every day. But because of God’s grace, we don’t need to dismember our bodies for our failure to meet this standard. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to not be angry or try not to call each other names or try not to cheat or lie, etc. etc. Our knowledge of God’s grace and the impossible standard that Jesus has set for us doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to reach those goals. It means that when we fail, and we will. We are assured of God’s pardon and we should express our gratitude for that pardon by going forth and trying to do better today than we did yesterday and trying to do better tomorrow than we did today. Amen.


Rev. Bradley A. Walmer,
a 2008 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree and was awarded the 2008 Rev. Delores Berry prize for preaching. He was ordained into Christian ministry by the Lebanon Association of the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ on June 1, 2008. Prior to beginning his pastorate here at New Covenant on August 1, 2015, he served as the pastor of St. Paul’s Summer Hill UCC in Auburn, Pa  (located southeast of Pottsville, PA).

Pastor Brad and his wife Michelle were born and raised in Lebanon County and now reside in the area with their dog, Barkley.


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