O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
With this collect we buy into Jesus’ summary of all the law and the prophets as covered by the first commandment (love God with heart, mind, soul, and strength) and the second commandment (love our neighbors as we love ourselves).
Many of Moses’ top 10 get moved to Jesus’ back burner, where they are still important, but need to be tested against these big two, on which all other commandments hang.
Jesus’ big two are alike in that both command us to love. Only the object of our love shifts -- in the first, love God; in the second, love our neighbors.
How interesting that God did not add as a codicil to this will, “unless our neighbors are lgbt.”
What would it look like to love our lgbt neighbors as we love ourselves?
What would it look like to love undocumented works as we love ourselves?
What would it look like to love the poor as we love ourselves?
What would it look like to love prisoners as we love ourselves? …..
2 Kings 5:1-14
God’s protocol is not the same as our protocol.
This narrative jests royally at the protocol of the high and mighty. As servants well know, the high and mighty often have difficulty hearing and perceiving what is in their own best advantage. Kings want to talk only with kings. Even when the servant girl breaks through to advise Naaman, his boss insists on looking not for the prophet of Israel, whose power the girl has praised, but for the king of Israel.
Sensing a trick, the King of Israel rips his garments, manifesting fear. He knows that he has no power to cure leprosy. What trap might the King of Aram be setting for him? The King of Israel does not think to consult with his prophets or to single out Elisha. Elisha learns about Naaman and his problem only through court gossip, most likely, again, through servant networks.
Naaman thinks that the route to the cure is by vaunting his rank and his power, as do many politicians who show up in stretch limos in the hoods of today. Elisha ignores Naaman’s ostentation and instead, practices God’s protocol. Elisha does not even come outside his unimpressive house to confer with Naaman, but sends a messenger to tell Naaman to wash himself in the Jordan seven times. That would surely be easy enough to do, but Naaman is incensed and in high dudgeon.
Again, only the lowly servants understand and finally break through to him, explaining how simple Elisha’s remedy is.
It would indeed be simple, but it requires humility, which Naaman has only in very short supply.
Many of the remedies we need are right at hand but not easily accessible because our humility is in very short supply.
Look for example at the great need the United States Military leaders have for clear intelligence about the communications in Arabic and other languages about which most soldiers are ignorant. The Military brass could have easy access to a significant cadre of talented persons dedicated to serving the United States by sharing their vast linguistic skill, but these are not easily accessible to the Military brass because of the country‘s military policy of “Don’t ask; don’t tell.” In high dudgeon the U.S. Military brass continues each year to discharge less than honorably scores of linguistically talented lgbt soldiers who insist on telling the truth about our lives.
‘You mean I have to wash in a dirty public river seven times?! No way!”
‘You mean I not only have to let Queers stay in the military, but need even to listen to what they can reveal about the communications of our enemies?!”
The psalmist begins and ends by having us talk directly to god. In middle sections we talk about God.
While God is praised for delivering us and showing mercy to us, the psalm avoids glib sentimentality in its claims.
- At times God hides God’s face.
- At times God is wrathful.
- At times we weep all night long.
‘But joy comes in the morning,’ ‘his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,’ and the outcome is overall positive: “You have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.”
Saint seems here to falter from his strong conviction stated in so many other places that nothing we do can save us, that we are saved by God’s grace alone, not by our own works. By contrast, here Saint suggests that eternal life is the reward of sowing to the spirit, that we will reap the harvest of doing right (good works) only “if we do not give up.”
The first six verses, treated as optional by the lectionary, temper Saint’s counsel with patience towards those who transgress and are caught doing so. Note that Saint does not suggest they have on their own discovered the wrong-doing and brought it to light, but specially emphasizes they have been ‘detected’ -- caught.
Are we to treat confession and repentance as without efficacy when done under the duress of having been caught? Saint offers no such caveat.
Instead he counsels: “Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” ’One another’s burdens’ anticipates that any one of us might be the one who lapses next time, that we are not a gathering of the sinless, but a gathering of sinners who help one another with the burden of trying to live righteously.
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
On at least three occasions in my life, I have left an unwelcoming community, stood by a U-Haul, and wiped the dust from my shoes.
Life is very short, even for those of us blessed to live for many decades. It is too short for us to waste portions of it on small talk and idleness. Many arrive at the ends of their lives having never taken the time to speak about matters truly important to all with whom we share the journey.
In sending out the seventy, Jesus counsels them to get their priorities in order.
Do not rejoice when you see that God has given you the power to be an influence for good in the lives of others, sometimes even to be a catalyst for someone’s discovering new life and meaning. “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”