Last Sunday, several parishioners mentioned that they missed having a sermon… Not having the time to prepare a sermon…and not being a person gifted with the ability to speak extemporaneously, I decided to forgo the sermon.
And so, I would like to offer a belated sermon for last Sunday…Today you will get two sermons for the price of one…you can’t beat that deal….Lest you make a mad dash for the Narthex doors, I promise it will be brief.
Sermon #1: When it comes to our Lord’s many blessings, I have a suggestion:…
Play “hot potato” with them…As soon as you receive a blessing, quickly pass it on to someone else…I guarantee you another hot potato will be coming your way very soon.
In our New Testament lesson today, John says this:
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments.”
In our gospel lesson today, John says this:
Jesus said to his disciples…“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you… abide in my love…If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love…. I have said these things to you, that your joy may be complete…
This is my commandment…that you love one another as I have loved you.”
My friends, there is a vast, vast difference in Jesus’s singular commandment to “Love one another”…than his Father’s many commandments as listed in Jewish Torah.
To be sure…the Torah is the first five books of the Bible…Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy…These five books contain the commandments of God as given to Moses…And not just the 10 commandments we are all familiar with, but all 613 of them.
These commandments were the Jewish laws of Jesus time…and any observant and devout Jew were expected to keep these commandments.
I would like to give you just a taste of a few of these commandments. I have brought them with me this morning, all 15 single spaced pages of them (hold up 613 handout)…but I will touch on only a few:
In the book of Deuteronomy, Jews are commanded to “Love God,”…a bit later they are commanded to “Fear God.”…I think they are speaking more about respecting God, rather than being afraid of God.
A bit later in Deuteronomy..Jews are commanded to: “To listen to the prophet speaking in God’s name…to not test the prophet unduly…to honour him and emulate his ways…to love other Jews and to love new converts.
Well, as we all know…the Jews routinely killed the prophets and stoned those sent by God…They failed miserably at loving one another as well as new converts.
...And we all know what the Jewish leaders and the Jews did to Jesus, the actual Son of God.
In the books of Exodus and Leviticus, Jews are commanded not to embarrass others…not to oppress the weak…not to speak derogatorily of others…not to take revenge or bear a grudge…The Jews did not do so well with these commandments either.
Jewish men are commanded to not shave the hair off the sides of their head…and to not shave their beards with razors…Now, I’m personally down with this commandment.
Men must not wear women’s clothing and women must not wear men’s clothing… and both men and women are commanded to stay out of Tattoo parlors…
Glad I am not a Jew…I did try to get rid of my Navy tattoo, but I want to hang onto my Episcopal Shield Tattoo.
For the sake of propriety, I will not touch on the some 27 laws regarding sexuality.
Dietary commandments? You betcha…a bushel full…Jews are commanded not to eat non-kosher animals, non-kosher fish, non-kosher flying insects and non-kosher maggots??…I wonder..are there really flying insects and maggots that are Kosher?
Jewish children are commanded not to curse or strike their mothers and fathers… Further they are commanded to respect and fear their mothers and fathers…and to not be a rebellious sons…Methinks we should all have Jewish children.
I could go on and on but I think you get my drift…I really don’t see how anyone could successfully keep all of these 613 commandments.
You know…I think Jesus realised this as well…and he therefore sought to summarise and simplify the Torah…moving from 613 commandments to just two:
He said this:
“Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind….This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it:…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets."
(toss the 613 commandments).
Indeed…on these two commandments hang the sum total of what is means to be a Christian…You see, loving God and loving our neighbour transforms us from the inside out…and we in turn…are tasked with transforming our world.
My friends…if there were ever a time our world needs transformation it is now… and we are the transformers the Holy Spirit uses to engage this transformation…
Okay, I was lying. There are three sermons today:
Sermon #3: Today is Mother’s Day, so let us remember and honour these very special persons who taught us the most important lessons in life…lessons we would use for the rest of our lives…
Let us remember and honour these very special persons who loved us unconditionally…in spite of our flaws and failures…who persisted in believing in us when no one else would…and never gave up on us.
Let us remember and honour these very special persons who inspired us to be better human beings…to care for each other…to be humble and forgiving…and that being loving is more important than being right.
Let us remember and honour these very special persons who hung in there…and brought our families through the darkest of times.
Finally, let us remember and honour these very special persons who were not actual mothers, but who stepped into that role to raise children not their own.
GOD BLESS OUR MOTHERS!!!