Monday, February 24, 2014

This weekend's sermon...

February 23, 2014

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

Psalm 119:33-40

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23

Matthew 5:38-48

Please pray with me,

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you? 

No, really….Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you? 

Pretty powerful stuff, don’t you think? 

Over the past few months, I’ve been on a journey.  Based on results from tests run on my liver, a specialist wanted me to change my diet and loose about 10 pounds.  For those of you who read my blog or the newsletter, you’ve been following along on this journey.  We’ll the good news is that the weight has come off, the challenge now, is to keep it off.   And we’ll see what the results of the blood work look like with this lifestyle change. 

But in hearing this verse from 1 Corinthians…that I am God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in me….I got to thinking more and more about how I treat my body.  The food I take in and the exercise and rest I give it from time to time. 

It’s easy to hear a passage like this and just think about ourselves.  It’s easy in a society that encourages us to do the best for ourselves and that we deserve the best just for being here….it’s easy to just think about me, me, me. 

But here’s the thing….it’s not about me, it’s not about us….it’s about ALL who are created in God’s image. 

We are all created in God’s image…this is where God’s spirit dwells….we are called, yes, to care for ourselves and let Christ’s light shine through….but there’s more than that…the passage from today’s Gospel lesson pushes us beyond ourselves. 

The key message from the gospel is to love our enemies…sure it’s easy to love the ones who love us back.  It’s easy to love all of the people created in God’s image….we do that one person at a time….but here we are called to love our enemies. 

And it’s Jesus who calls us or tells us to do this. 

This Jesus who lived a life of servanthood toward others.  One who talked the talk of love but also walked the walk…all the way to Jerusalem and death on the cross so that we might know just how much God loves us. 

In the words of a colleague, “This Jesus not only commands, he also understands, understands just how hard it is for us to love rather than hate, to forgive rather than begrudge, to embrace rather than protect, to share rather than hoard, to heal rather than wound, especially when we ourselves walk so much of our lives wounded and hurt.”

That’s the truth, right?  That Jesus gets us…Jesus knows where we are at….and continues to urge us to dig deeper and reach further to not only feel that grace but to continue to extend it to others. 

We have a member here at Trinity, who some might even call Trinity’s ambassador.  Her name is Logan.  During the course of a hospital stay and several weeks in Reading Rehab, an amazing amount of love and support was shown to her.  Joyfully we celebrate that she is now home.  Nurses and caregivers at the rehab center have never had a patient with so many visitors. 

The walls of her room were covered with cards from floor to ceiling.  Logan’s family at Trinity (and many, many others) has loved on this amazing woman…a woman created in God’s image.  When talking about all the love and support shown to Logan and her family, one person said to me, “Well, it’s Logan.” Like it was a no brainer….

Dare I say that it’s easy to love on Logan, because the light of Christ shines through her and she has touched so many lives?  She just encourages us to continue the love we receive from her…and share it with others. 

The challenge, then, for you and for me…is to love the ones who to us are not loveable. 

We are called to love those with whom we disagree…with those who have bumper stickers on their cars that make us cringe....those who listen to political stations that we rather didn’t exist….those who are the extreme opposite from us…because they too are God’s temple…and God’s spirit dwells in them. 

Tricky, right?  The call of the gospel is to get out of our comfort zones, and to love those who least expect us to love them.  The call of the gospel is to create community in the midst of our differences, it’s to continue to invite people in to know and feel God’s love and grace because we know that God’s grace continues to accept us just the way we are. 

And is it possible to do this?  I mean really do this?  To love our enemies?  To be perfect? 

Oh, heck no.

But thanks be to God that we don’t have to be perfect.  Yes, we’re created in God’s image.  And yes, God’s spirit dwells in us, but we won’t get it right 100% of the time. 

We will mess up.  We will miss opportunities to welcome and invite.  We will miss opportunities to visit and console.  We will miss opportunities to build bridges and go outside of our comfort zones….we will miss opportunities to apologize for mistakes, rudely spoken words and ignoring or forgetting someone in need. 

But thanks be to God, for a God who breaks into our hearts and homes in the midst of our imperfections. 

In the brokenness of the cross, God came into our world.  It is in the brokenness of our daily lives that God continues to break into our world, immersing us in love and grace.  Loving us in spite of who we are and empowering us to love others in the same way. 

So go from this place…with these words:  You are God’s temple and God’s Spirit dwells in you.  May these words give you comfort when you are weak and may they remind you that each person you also God’s temple…remember that…may we as God’s Spirit dwelling in the world treat others with love, love and more love. 

"You are kingdom people, blessed and beloved by God and called to be salt and light in the world. Go, be who you are!"

And now may the peace, which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 

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