October 21, 2008

Looking Forward to October 26, 2008 -- 24th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
From the Jewish Scriptures: Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
  • Psalm 1 (VU p.724)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
  • From the Gospel: Matthew 22:34-46
The Hymns this week are:
  • 399 God, Whose Love Is Reigning O'er Us
  • 593 Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love
  • 372 Though I May Speak
  • 427 To Show by Touch and Word
The Sermon Title is Neighbour as Self??? (All You Need is Love)

Early Thoughts: What does it mean to love God with all our being? What does it mean to love our neighbour as yourself? Was John Lennon right when he sang that "All you need is Love"?

I remember as a child this teaching of Jesus being held up as the basic core of faithful living (admittedly it was usually Luke's version, which includes the Good Samaritan story, being used in those discussions). And there is a reason for that. There is a story of a rabbi being asked if he could explain the whole Torah (Law) while standing on one foot. His answer was "love God, love neighbour -- everything else is commentary".

Such an easy answer. But without the commentary what does it mean? And what about that "as yourself" part?

Simply put it means wanting people to thrive just as you want yourself to thrive. It means caring for the other like/in the same amount that you care for yourself. IT does not mean liking everyone. It does not mean agreeing. It means loving them as people in their own right.

A song I sang years ago suggested that "if we only had love" then many issues would be solved. John Lennon wrote that "all we need is love" in a song sung during the flower power era. These claims seem hopelessly idealistic and romantic. But in God's vision they are true. The love we talk about here is a verb. It isn't candles and flowers and Hallmark cards. It is work. It is practical. It is a whole way of being.

And if we can do that for ourselves and for those around us, even (or especially) the ones we don't really like, then we will make a big change in our world. Oh and to close on a lighter profundity: Jesus told us to love our neighbours. He also said to love our enemies. Likely because they are the same people.

Hope to see you on Sunday.

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