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Baptizing the Nations: Mission, Culture, and Liturgy in the Gospel of Matthew

Research/writing project for 2003 Luce Seminar, “Prospects of Historic Liturgies in a Postmodern Age.” A work in progress.

Laurence C. Sibley, Jr., Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, © 2004

To better appreciate the message of Matthew, we might ask, “What would this Gospel sound like to one whose primary, perhaps sole, contact with the book is in a liturgical setting, where it has been read to an assembly concerned with Word and sacrament?” After a second or third reading, the hearer might notice the overall shape of the book echoing the general shape of the weekly assembly. God, the Son, comes down among his people (1-4), they are gathered at the mountain and into God's presence to hear his teaching/Word (5-7), they eat with him (14,15), Jesus promises to build his church/assembly (16), they are reminded of his death and resurrection (26-28), and he sends them forth from the mountain (28:16) for that work of building (10:1-42; 28:16-20).

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