Salt and Light and Righteousness Abounding

After Epiphany: The Great Invitation Worship Series Overview

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

In light of who and what God is blessing and how different that is from what the world and sometimes even the church seems to bless, how do we then live? As salty, light-shining people whose righteousness abounds!

Reading Notes

NRSV texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for this service are available at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé

Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
The fast God chooses and honors reflects real change toward justice and mercy in the lives of people and communities.

Psalm 112: 1-9 (10) (UMH 833)
Sing the response with Tone 3 in D major (UMH 737).

1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)
Paul's proclamation in Corinth was not based on elegant human wisdom, but on spiritual wisdom displayed with power.

Matthew 5:13-20
The Sermon on the Mount continues: You are salt and light. I have come to fulfill the law and teach you to do likewise.

Calendar Notes

The Great Invitation: “Righteousness Abounding"

On this fifth Sunday after Epiphany, we are introduced to the nature of the righteousness Jesus teaches, a righteousness made possible by the coming of the kingdom of God.

Black History Month begins today.

In the Series

Last week, we joined Jesus and his disciples at the top of the plateau and scanned the world to see what God and God’s kingdom actively bless. It may have taken some time to get our eyes adjusted to this view, and we may still be adjusting. Probably all of us are. We forget what we’re supposed to pay attention to, and we need the reminders, constantly. It also helps to hear testimonies of what others are seeing. What we can’t see with our own eyes initially, the stories of others can sometimes help us begin to see.

All of last week was about what God is doing and blessing “out there” now that God’s kingdom has drawn near.

But for those of us who are seeking to become followers or disciples of Jesus, God is doing something more. God is seeking to transform our own lives. God wants to make us super-salty, radiant with light for all to see, and abounding in righteousness. That’s what this week is about. It’s about those inner- and outward-facing transformations God wants to work in each of us-- and that we are invited to cooperate in helping to happen.


In this week’s text, we don’t yet know what “righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees” will look like. We’ll start to hear more about that next week (“This, Not That”). But we do know, or at least can reliably imagine, what being salty and beaming with the light of God might look like. We hear the invitation today, or perhaps even the command, to do that.

The point of today is, in part, to remind people of the salt that is in them and to start “living salty” every day and to remind people of the light that is theirs as disciples of Jesus and to keep that light shining, 24/7/365. We’re invited and called to habitual salty radiance. So plan, along with worship on Sunday, to keep the reminders and invitations to share salt and light flowing through the coming week. Prompt this on social media. And gather both written and video responses — salt sightings, beacon opportunities — ways in which people are either given opportunities to be salt and light or ways they see others doing so. Gather these and include them as part of the opening slide set next Sunday to help keep the momentum going.

Additional Resources

2014 Planning Helps for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden

In This Series...

The Heavens are Opened — Planning Notes Come and See — Planning Notes Follow Me — Planning Notes #Blessed— Planning Notes This, Not That — Planning Notes And Now Your Reward — Planning Notes Shine! — Planning Notes