Posts Tagged ‘Matthew’


First off, I am thankful to be able to put these thoughts together. Scheduler allowed thoughts throughout the 12 days of Christmas season (in traditional liturgical churches the only time Christmas carols are sung), which was rather chaotic with neuro-events and flashbacks. So today even though we did not make it out to celebrate Epiphany Sunday in the west or Christmas in the East, I did want to pass on a few thoughts.

As you read the main Gospel reading (the other 3 readings are after the post ends, so you can bring all four together to tease out themes if you want). Take time to bring different lens than the normal western church. As noted our house will begin hosting an exploration of the Qur’an.  While doing some reading (another blessing after about 4 days of not being able to focus to read) I was reminded of how that sacred text can be misunderstood because we do not read it in the light of the contrast style of writing.

Perhaps this is one way to approach the Epiphany for new discovery for your own journey. Read the text through the lens of contrast what new insights come through.

Matthew 2:1-12
2:1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 

2:2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 

2:3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 

2:4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 

2:5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 

2:6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” 

2:7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 

2:8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 

2:9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 

2:10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 

2:11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

2:12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The other, is the way of Eastern Orthodox theological dialogue I discovered when serving in Anglicanism. It is the trinity dialogue, where you enter discussion on a topic with a party, but it is written to that party about the dialogue held with another. Taking this lens, with the understanding that the term Gospel in the time of the Roman Empire was a political statement. Read into the text the dialogue of the Magi and Herod about those in poverty, and realize it is with the believer decades removed, or the Empire overseeing. What message is being sent to both parties. Reflect on these messages.

As you spend time reflecting on this Epiphany discourse, what epiphany has come into your journey?

What is your epiphany for your life journey in 2018?

 

-Make your own little corner of the world a better place-

Dream no little dreams.

-Pastor Tommy Douglas

Rest of Lectionary for today:

Isaiah 60:1-6
60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

60:2 For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

60:3 Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

60:4 Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

60:5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

60:6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
72:1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

72:2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

72:3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

72:4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

72:5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

72:6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

72:7 In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

72:10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.

72:11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

72:12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

72:13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.

72:14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

Ephesians 3:1-12
3:1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–

3:2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you,

3:3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,

3:4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.

3:5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

3:6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

3:7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power.

3:8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ,

3:9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;

3:10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,

3:12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him

From: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=106


The minister this Sunday noted how weird it first appears that Matthew 25:31-46 and Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 were paired together. But a bit of reflection and listening you can see the connections. For in Ecclesiastes, the Teacher (who tradition says is Solomon, which adds a whole layer of thought here) is laying out in the poem the rhythm of life, but in the work as a whole lays out that all that matters is living within, through and out of the Holy Mystery we are one with.

Which brings us into the Gospel of Matthew’s story of the sheep and the goats:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[a] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer Him,[b] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

-Matthew 25:31-46 (New King James Version)

A much-maligned passage as people focus on the judgment aspect, which the separation is a piece of it, but not the full scope of the passage. For it can be an interior separation as well where the ego (sin) that keeps the connection from the Holy Mystery hidden is finally cut off, and in humility true actions of love are revealed. Those true actions are what is seen in the “When did we see…” And the actions laid out appear simple, but all too often are ignored in our world of deserving/undeserving it calls us all to a different level of living, feeling, acting and experiencing. That is the level of a life lived out of love.  When there is a need, we fill it and build the relationship from there. It is the action of interdependence.

But how do we get there?

It comes from a deeper listening of the words of Ecclesiastes. So let us enter the Lectio Divina to see how the Holy Mystery speaks into our hearts. Get comfortable for you will be with the poem three times. Breathe deeply feeling the stress of the day wash away from your system, the sludge blocking your energy burn away. Relax into the chair, feel it as it evaporates into a cushion of years past, as you are within the midst of others listening and learning this teaching.

Prepare yourself for the first hearing, as you hear these words sit with them. What memories/images of your life of joy come up? Sit with those memories for a time.

Now hear these words:

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

-Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 (New King James Version)

Now hear the words a second time, and this time see what images/memories of hope come to your mind. Sit with these a time.

And on the third and final hearing, see what images/memories of you having been loved and expressing love come to the surface, sit with these for a time.

Slowly bring your breathing back to normal, feel the bustle of the past, and the cushion dissolve bringing you back into the now. When you are ready, open your eyes.

Now you may ask how the two connect? Simple those memories, emotions, feelings and images of joy, hope and love you have experienced? That is the Holy Mystery within, that is the wall (ego) that separated you torn down a little. This is where you live out of for the humble answer to “When did I see you…” and know the answer is simply four little letters:

L-O-V-E.

Welcome to 2017.


Please Note this Preamble appeared only in THAW:

Preamble

I would tell you that you were nuts. That’s right I still cannot believe where I have wound up in life. Anyone who knew me growing up would be thinking the same and laughing hysterically along with me. Honestly, a monk–me?? A MONK!! (and it’s a four letter word even). I will admit it gets a bit confusing here, so let’s back up and I’ll try to explain how this all happened.

See it was 1997; I had just gone through a rough break up. That’s the nice way of calling it when the fiancee looks at you and says she needs the cocaine more than you so get the fuck out. I got out. Got depressed to. Planned out to kill myself (why else would my home town of Calgary have such lovely bridges over the Bow River?). In the midst of cleaning out (always rude to leave clutter for those you are going to leave behind) that I stumbled upon that little red pocket Bible you were given in gade 5 by the Gideon’s.

It was one of those aha moments; see it was snapped open under clutter in a trunk of mine (see I may not have been a Christian, but there’s something about any religions book of scripture that you just can’t throw it out). I looked down and saw red, not I wasn’t mad, and it was one of those Bibles with the words of Christ in red ink. King of eye catching.

Fell on the verses in Matthew 22:34-40

But when the Pharisees heard Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer asked Him a question testing him, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and will all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Okay I got a niggle in the back of my mind. Maybe all those summers at Vacation Bible School was kicking in. I figured I had managed to successfully avoid the whole evil hypocrites in the church my whole life, but my life was over, might as well give it a shot for my last day on earth, not like I had anything against God, just his fan club if you will.

So I called my Nanny and made arrangements to go to church with her and a family friend that Sunday. I felt good as we entered the building, looked at the watch and did the mental count down to my last breath.

It was weird, the church started, but didn’t. Fifteen minutes before hand they did a pre-sing, I didn’t last a song. The first hymn up was “Amazing Grace“. It was in the words of a wretch being saved that I saw a man before me in white. He had a simple message for me, “it will be alright, Ty”. A simple message taht shook me to my core, y’see it was what my Granddad had told me when I was 16 years old and now this other guy was saying it.

My plan was forgotten as I took his hand and accepted his offer for sanity for a split second… what a split second because sanity was not to be in the cards for the ride that lay ahead of me. But in that moment I had no clue what cards I was about to turn over.

What follows was in both Franciscan Times and Thaw

http://www.tssf.org/Winter2005.pdf p.14-15

Instruments of peace are a unique prayer coming from

someone with my background. It is a hard thing to

want to pray for…I am a pacifi st by training, not by nature.

Growing up due to bullying and seeing injustice

in the world I tried to solve the problem with my fi sts.

After over three thousand fi ghts only ever losing due

to fi ghting multiples at once (i.e. fi ve on one, ten on

one, being tossed through a plate glass window when I

was at a writer’s retreat in Banff). But did it really ever

solve anything?

In Matthew 5:9 Jesus makes a promise, that blessed are

the peacemakers, for they will be called Children of

God.

It is many verses like this one, I believe, helped St.

Francis of Assisi who was a warrior (he grew up wanting

to be a knight) and the realization that battles are

not won or lost at the point of a sword, or in my case

the end of a fi st, but rather in the heart of the individual

with the hand made into a fi st or holding the sword

(gun for us).

It is in your heart to make the decision that yes you

will feel better if you kill the person who attacked your

family, perhaps raped your daughter/son. You may

feel better to place the person who hit you in intensive

care or simply strike them back. But do these actions

truly make the world a better place?

Where

: Between you and the aggressor.

What

: A restraint of the person to help mollify them.

Why

: Violence will only beget violence, but in years

of street ministry I have learned that sometimes a

situation will escalate where you and those around

you are in imminent danger or harm. Once authorities

have been notifi ed it can become necessary to

restrain the one acting out till proper help arrives.

With proper restraint it is not done out of anger, or for

some fulfi llment of joy within you. In fact, once this

step has been taken it should lead to your own repentance

before God. But yes sometimes it is necessary and

I just wanted to touch on that so one does not think

that I am saying there is never the situation, but it is the

heart you bring to the situation and the reason behind

doing it.

Working through the love commandments in the Gospel

it bespeaks the heart used in our actions, not the

actions themselves, because sadly in the fallen world

one must act but never as an aggressor.

For the sin lies in the aggression for gratifi cation. This

is a lesson I have learned the hard way, as I said I was

a scrapper growing up in over three thousand fi ghts

on the street. It was the hardest addiction in my life to

get release from, because of the rush that fl ew through

my body and one of the things I knew why traditional

anger management would not work with me.

In traditional anger management you treat the triggers

of what causes the violence, but for one addicted

to the fi ght there is no trigger, it is just done to feel a

rush…it literally was an addiction I had to turn over to

my higher power and took many years of prayer and

refl ection to understand pacifi sm and what it means

within a Biblical context.

It all comes down to one’s heart. Blessed are the peacemakers,

but why are you seeking to be a peacemaker?

What method are you using to bring peace? Is your

heart being shaped by God or by coveting?

And honestly ask yourself as you pray this opening

line in your prayer life—Do you want to be a peacemaker?

Sadly to be like Christ means to live what Christ lived,

turning the other cheek. The Golden Rule-treat others,

as you would like to be treated. In the case of taking

another life or capital punishment there is always the

argument that it is best to execute an innocent than to

let many guilty go free. Think about it deeply though.

Are you prepared to be that innocent person executed?

Then what does it mean in the second part of the Great

Commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves?

Does this chunk of God’s word help one to understand

better? It is refocusing your life not on a penal idea of

sin, but truly embracing the words Jesus taught us to

pray to God.

Lord, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin

against us.

To live the forgiving life is part of being a peacemaker.

If as Christ’s ambassador you cannot live out the

forgiveness Christ has given you, how can you hope to

bring peace into your home, community, city, nation or

world?

It is the thought of being a peacemaker. I opened this

chapter pondering if this is something I would want in

my life. What is a peacemaker literally?

For a contemporary example (and a nod to Canadian

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson who founded them)-

United Nations Peace Keepers. They go into a country

ravaged by war that says they want peace. Wearing

bright blue helmets and armed, but unwilling to open

fi re. See the U.N. in a hail of bullets does not bring

peace; showing love, rebuilding and teaching the

people what it means to co-exist together does.

But what do peacekeepers endure? Do a web search

on recent missions such as Bosnia, Rwanda, or Somalia.

Refl ect on what these soldiers endure. They are

called blessed by Christ for being eternally stuck in the

middle of two sides that want to obliterate one another.

Christ called them blessed. Would you consider this a

blessed existence?

But that leads to the thought. Can a peacemaker ever

use force? Or as the Gospel says when struck on the

right cheek we should offer the left cheek. With this

teaching was it Christ’s intention to produce martyrs

and doormats en masse?

No. It is in living out the Gospel you can learn the fi ve

W’s of non-violent intervention in a situation if you

will.

Who

: The one assaulting you.

When

: Methods such as talking and being non-threatening

have failed, and violence is escalating beyond

emotional and verbal to the physical.


Nederlands: bijbeluitgave 1611

Nederlands: bijbeluitgave 1611 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan’s Purse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Worldvision Enterprises

Worldvision Enterprises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew 6

Do Good to Please God

6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.[a]

What are the boundaries on giving? What is the way we are to do this? This passage in Matthew during the Sermon on the Mount is jarring to our 21st century ear. Where we are used to be rewarded for our good works, or “charity” (and yes I cringe at the word C-H-A-R-I-T-Y for it implies that I know better than those I am trying to build community with, it is a power word and yes we need to acknowledge this).

So this came passage came up in the adult Sunday School class today in our discussion around Hospitality (a lifestyle for Christians is the underlying ethos of this educational series).  But the words of this passage struck me.

For it is so counter to what we are used to.

I remember as a youth pastor terminating my youth groups relationship with WorldVision, not because we did not believe in what they did (we actually still did a 30 hour famine for a non-profit), no the relationship was ended because, simply, the one that reached certain levels of donations were given rewards.

There was two things wrong with this:

1) It rewarded those of higher socio-economics

2) It built a discipleship mechanism that we are too expect to be rewarded or given something tangible for our willingness to give.

These were 2 messages I found counter to the Gospel of building a just world.

But there are so many other ways in the church we perpetuate this you must receive to give, and do to get, here are a few short examples to reflect on:

1) Tax receipts: do we give to our church because we believe int he mission? Feel called? or know that we will receive a kick back at year end tax season? What if the churches lost their tax exempt status?? Would we still financially support our church?

2) Building projects and fundraisers where we do door prizes and other prize draws to “reward” those who give… what is the underlying message here?

3) How do we share our stories when we do good work? Do we celebrate the individuals or the community? Is there a difference?

4) How do we do missions? At one point (I do not know if they still do this) Samaritan’s Purse required the families and children receiving shoe boxes to have to attend church to receive the present. Is this right? Should we expect someone to do something to receive blessing?

Hmmm…

Just points to ponder…with one final quesiton:

Are we called to charity or to justice?


Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

It is unique, as I have written before we Franciscans get a short shift as not being academic enough…why? Francis was more concerned with ensuring those that lived out his rule to live the Gospel Life of Jesus Christ were more pragmatic.   But it wasn’t an anti-intellect drive, rather it is an internalization of the gospel teaching and shaping one’s life and learnings around a deeper understanding of this teaching.

This has been my life, attempting to fully internalize one Gospel Teaching of Jesus:

Matthew 22:36-40

New King James Version (NKJV)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

This is the passage that brought me back into the institutional church, and it is the passage that has me continually wrestling with the institutional church.  How is it that we are to love like this in community, as community, yet we do such harm to one another.
This is the lesson that my life has centered on.
So how far have I come? That is always a good question, but I think I am closer the further I move from the institutional church setting, as Francis did.

 


Holy Spirit painting

Bishop John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Diocese of...

Image via Wikipedia

Opened sharing a bit of my story, the PG or G version of some incidents in the struggle of being a Christian in Recovery for a lifetime (which long time readers will know)…then moved into the fact that as an institution the church is in Crisis.  Reg Bibby and other sociologists have pointed out that a church a week closes in Canada, 400 in the last few years have vanished. The crystal cathedral went bankrupt and was bought out, Rick Warren has bankrupted Saddleback church twice. Bill Hybels formerly apologized to his congregation of Willow Creek for not doing enough to make disciples.

Plug and play programming has failed us.

Diana Butler Bass speaks of a new awakening, one where the Holy Spirit is moving within believers to renew the church even as the institution is dying around us.

Matthew Fox, the renewer of true Christian Mysticism, speaks of prayer as life, LIFE with God not as some formula or set words.

John shelby Spong speaks of his love of scripture, but his inability to read it for the black and white on the page, but rather for the depth of beauty of the story of life with God while acknowledging the texts of horror that lie within.

All this comes together with my life experience of Christian Recovery to come to these two simple lines today:

God is Love, Love is God

Emerge 2012

March 3 @ 2 p.m.

2 simple lines of scripture in how many thousands, yet 2 simple lines that carry such a wealth and depth of what it means to trust and walk with God.  Where does the Shema come from? The obvious answer is the book of Deuteronomy written by Moses, and you would be partly right…You come to ABC you will get to explore who actually wrote the Torah and the single author versus multiple sources, that’s not the point today no matter how much my geek bone wants it to be.

A people who had walked with God in the wilderness, who legend tells us built an empire with God, moved from a theocracy to a monarchy, then division, crumble, conquering, led into exile by the super power of the day. Some say 10 of the tribes would never return. Walking under a persecution that makes the Rwandan Genocide or modern day Afghanistan under the Taliban if you’re  a woman like the safest place on earth to be. These are a people that new what it meant to turn away from God or to walk deeply in God’s heart. They felt the dryness of the desert and the ecstaticness of joy.

It was during the return, Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall…yet his teammate, compadre, Ezra was with a group of priests reclaiming holy ground…the temple…and in this reclamation they “discover” a lost scroll. A regiving of “The Law” and in the midst of this retelling is this summation:

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

What God Requires

12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you except to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul? 13 Keep the LORD’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.

 

For legalism had led to exile, so let’s get to the literal heart of the matter…then there is 400 years of silence from God supposedly, or simply God working in more covert ways than before. And BAM! We got a revolution.

A simple revolution, I’m not a fancy theologian, I have studied most of my life the sacred scriptures of many, but what I honestly believe is theology is where the living word meets you. Your life experience + learnings +the Holy Spirit while reading the word= Theology. We just need to be open to the Holy Spirit and where she is going to lead us.

I was a child of 11 when I was told there was no place for me in church, at 19 I was struggling once more to find my place in this world when I stumbled across these words in the Gospel of Matthew, red letters in a Gideon’s new testament while cleaning my room, and I was this close to throwing the testament out as the spine was snapped and pages falling out:

Matthew 22:35-40

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”[a]

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.[b] 38 This is the greatest and most important[c] command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend[e] on these two commands.”

The Shema came to us between 6-4000 years ago. Almost 2,000 years ago when challenged to rank the legal system Jesus reminds us of it, and then builds on it. For a teen who was searching for God in spite of systems these words hit hard.

For you see love is a reciprocal ideal. If I give this unconditional love to God, it is because God has given it to me. If I love my neighbour then I must love myself. It is a 3 part love, a Trinitarian ideal…L-O-V-E.

A revolution to a people oppressed by rules. Those in the synagogue and marketplaces of Jesus’ time were more used to hearing what shall thee not do rather than, what shall we do…

What are you told what is the big “don’t” on the sin list?

(Audience feed in)

No to Sex. No to drugs. No to alcohol. No to this music, that dress, No to dancing, no to make up, no to this type of show or movie. No to this…

And you know what Jesus’ response was? It wasn’t picking out of the 617 laws, or the sayings of the prophets or the commentaries, or what the religious leaders said, or even what the Roman Empire dictated…Jesus simply laid it out for you: Love God, neighbour and Self with your all. Why?

Genesis Day 6. God made us in Her image. He called us very good. She blessed us and He called us Her beloved.

That’s why. Simple. Lovingly crafted to live out of and into a love that transcends all. A revolution that started at creation—the big bang theory kicked it off, 6,000ish years ago the Great Commandment was laid down, almost 2,000 years ago Jesus hits the religious authorities between the eyes with it in a ministry devoted to living life with God’s children.

A ministry where out of living this 3 part love, hope was renewed in the world. Institutions were shook to their core, and those who gave more credence to prominence, to wealth, and to tracking of attendance numbers.  What was Jesus message in all of this? It was simply what I have learned in my 25+ years of working to make my corner of the world a better place, the only number that matters is 1.

The one person before you now and yes, that one person before us we most forget about in our acts of love, ourselves, matters as well.

So I am asked to speak about what it means to serve and walk with God, it means humbling ourselves in confidence. It means walking with those who we like hanging out with, but taking steps out in faith to those we don’t like or get jittery around. It is about ensuring those with no voice, reclaim their voice, those who are hungry get fed, those without shelter or clothes get those, it is realizing that God’s family is a beautifully diverse collection of colours, genders, abilities, orientations…it is realizing that God is not one of exclusion…this love, this grace love gift that we reciprocate doesn’t come with strings, its not God’s put this out there so I need the magic spell, or the right amount of check marks in the did it, didn’t do it columns that was the system Jesus entered into to shatter and revolutionize. No this love gift is two ways, but we already have been given it by God, God’s just waiting for us to open our hearts fully.

So let the revolution continues. Look around this city, this world, we are all God’s children, and we are all given the same love and the same challenge to use this love to transform this planet for Kingdom is not a future promise, it is a command to build here.

I know these are the important words of God, because when I was preparing for ministry and in discernment for a pulpit call, one of those walking with me came with a prophetic word that summed up how he felt the Spirit guiding my life ministry, it is in the Gospel of Mark:

Mark 12:28-34

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The Primary Commands

28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, “Which command is the most important of all?”[a]

29 “This is the most important,”[b] Jesus answered:

Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One.[c] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.[d][e]

31 “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself.[f] There is no other command greater than these.”

32 Then the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher! You have correctly said that He is One, and there is no one else except Him. 33 And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding,[g] and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question Him any longer.

How are you going to love God, neighbour and self today?