Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 23 Sermon

(Sermon given at the 8 AM service.)

At Diocesan Convention

· We gathered around tables

· We got to share a little bit of our faith story with another person

· We then looked at the themes of our God encounters and their commonality at the table

It was a very different exercise from our usual work at conventions – it was relationship building and a great way to see beyond ourselves, to the people at our table and thus to the diocese made up of all these parishes and all those gathered in Farmington.

Jesus is asked, “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

Our own Catechism (in the back of the BCP) reminds us that The Ten Commandments were given to define our relationship with God and our neighbors.

So instead of just picking one of Ten Commandments or any other, Jesus reminds us of our interconnected relationships.

Jesus said to him, "`You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

It is an ethic of love; what matters most? Our relationship, our love of God and the love of our neighbors as ourselves, they are all connected.

As Thomas Merton put it, “God does not give His joy to us for ourselves alone, and if we could possess God for ourselves alone we would not possess God at all. Any joy that does not overflow from our soul and help others to rejoice in God does not come to us from God.” Our love & joy that come from above, come from God & must be shared. The two commandments are connected.

One of the themes at our table as we shared our stories was the risk that was part of opening ourselves to the change, to the event with God. Risk is part of our lives, risk is a part of love…

Surrounded by family and friends, they exchange their wedding vows. They love each other - there's no question. Each is the other's most cherished and trusted friend. But they are understandably nervous. They know the other's quirks and flaws - and each realizes that they are not the easiest person in the world to live with, either. They also know that their dreams and hopes for their own lives will now be joined to the those of the other - and that means compromise, understanding and sacrifice. They are very much aware that loving with all your heart is a big risk . . .

She has gotten into trouble again, and again she has to be bailed out. The family has been through this before. She is deeply sorry, resolves to change, and begins to clean up her act - but quickly stumbles again. One more bad decision, one more irresponsible lapse of judgment. But her family is always there to lift her back up, to help put the pieces of her life back together. The pattern has gotten tiresome and they often resent it; helping her demands more sympathy and energy than they can manage. They have learned the risk of loving with all your strength . . .

Business has been painfully slow. His CFO advises him that people are going to have to be let go. But some of these folks have been working for him since day one. Nobody would blame him if he just closed the whole operation down; everyone knows the numbers and the market. But these are people's lives and the lives and futures of their families. So he and his management team keep at it, committed to keeping the operation going, no matter what it takes. Make no mistake, loving with one's whole mind often requires a huge risk . . .

We are not called to love the Lord our God with half a heart, part of a mind, or a smidge of spirit: nor can we truly love our neighbor as ourselves if we don’t risk anything. Whether its with our spouse, or as parents or at our job, everywhere we go requires a risk to love as fully and as completely as God asks.

And it is as true for those disciples as it is for us today: “As for the disciples, it was not by their fantastic worship, not by their biblical knowledge, not by their insight or wisdom, not by their sanctity, not by their moral uprightness that they would be known to the world. Not by their eloquent or convicting preaching. Not by their buildings, or their budgets would they be known. Not by their faith to move mountains, or by their personal purity would they be singled out as belonging to Jesus. It would be by their love.” (from synthesis, HKO)

Remember: Love God, Love Neighbor – God loves you! May we embody such love. Amen.

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