Sermon preached on January 12, 2020, by Rev. Sarah Harrison-McQueen. Worship series, "Won't you be my neighbor?" Sermon, "143." Matthew 22:34-40.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
This week’s passage appears at the end of a series of debates with Sadducees and Pharisees. Jesus easily answered all questions, and finally, one of the lawyers asks: “Which commandment is the greatest?” (v. 36). Jesus responds with what Jewish people refer to as the Shema, “You shall love the Lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (See Deuteronomy 6:4-5.) It expands the first commandment found in Exodus: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Jesus affirms these two commands are foundational. David Ewart writes: “As long as we observe both commandments, we can be confident we are on that Godly path. However, if we choose to ignore either love, we will soon find ourselves in a spiritual ditch.” (Source: https://episcopalchurch.org/library/bible-study/bible-study-proper-25-2014)
"Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like 'struggle.' To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now." — Fred Rogers, from “The World According to Mr. Rogers"
"There are many ways to say I love you. Just by being there when things are sad and scary. Just by being there, being there, being there to say, I love you." —Lyrics from "Many Ways to Say I Love You" as performed on Episode 1643 of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
- What spiritual ditches do you find yourself in? How might the love of God and neighbor help to dig you out?
- In what ways is love of God like love of neighbor? Do we do the second as a form of obedience to the first? Or do we do the second because it is indistinguishable from the first?
- Who are the people who have loved you so that you have encountered the love of God?
- This week, how can you say “I love you” to one of your neighbors?
- This week, how can you say “God loves you” to one of your neighbors?
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