Sermon for 1-15-17

24 Feb

Mark 12:28-34New International Version (NIV)

The Greatest Commandment

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c]There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.


The greatest obstacle to my pastoral path is that people piss me off sometimes.  


I try, try, try so hard to have patience and tolerance for all of God’s children, but sometimes people just do things that just push my buttons.  It’s an ongoing struggle.  


In theory, I know that all people are God’s children, and that love, peace, patience and tolerance are the answers… blah, blah, blah.


But in all seriousness, I do love all people, even if sometimes I don’t particularly feel it with certain people in moments.  And I want to love all people.  I’m called by God to serve him by serving ALL his children.  So in order to do that, I must overcome what are indeed my own failings in order to be His servant.  


And they are my failings.  Because intellectually, I know that when people push my buttons, it’s usually because people aren’t doing things my way.  That they aren’t understanding that my way of thinking is the right way.  And I must confess, I’m not always right and my way certainly isn’t the only way and sometimes not even the right way.  


This weekend is Martin Luthor King Junior weekend, and I wanted to preach today about equality and justice but as I began looking for a scripture that might fit my theme, I ended up searching for “Love thy neighbor”, which led me to today’s scripture reading.  


There’s a lot more to today’s text than what I was originally looking for, and it gave me a lot to think about, and I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to discuss the text with Pastor Steph and others in our Cathedral community throughout the week to wrap my head around this part of the scripture.  


And I’ve come to feel that my failings in the second part of this “greatest commandment”, “loving my neighbors as I love myself” may usually come when I don’t first focus on the first part, which is “to love God with all my heart, mind, and strength”.  


It’s easy to lose patience with others when I’m focusing on how they are affecting me, or how they are different from me, or how they are better than me, or worse than me?


But if I’m remembering that first and foremost we are to love God, and after all, God is love, and therefore, the greatest commandment is love, then I must turn myself over to love.


Love of God, and love of his creation, and focus on gratitude for his love and his creation.  


God gave this world great gifts.  He gave us free will, and if people are different than me, that’s a gift of free will.  Thank God not everyone is like me, because that would be an extremely boring and difficult world.  Sure, some people may have very different values and ideologies than me, but on the other hand, there are so many people who have ideas that when I open myself to hear, may enrich my life and create growth in me.  There are so many different cultures and backgrounds and experiences, and if I open myself up to the God that is in all of his creations, I can myself become a better person by creating connections with those who are different, rather than closing myself off.  


And so when I indeed open myself up to love God, I can then become better at loving my neighbors.


And that’s my take on the scripture.  Now it’s time for the rest of the sermon, where we pass the mike and get your takes on the scripture…

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