Lent of Love, Week 1: Loving God

Welcome to a Lent of Love.

This season, we’re taking a deep dive into Jesus’ central commandments: to love God, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Each Monday, we’ll post yesterday’s sermon visuals and audio, plus the postcard and some further thoughts to dwell on for next Sunday’s sermon.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

– Pastor Emmy

This Sunday’s Sermon: “Beloved is Where We Begin”

We closed with Jan Richardson’s poem, “Beloved Is Where We Begin“:

If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.

Do not leave
without hearing
who you are:
Beloved,
named by the One
who has traveled this path
before you.

Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.

I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from danger,
from fear,
from hunger
or thirst,
from the scorching
of sun
or the fall
of the night.

But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.

I can tell you
that on this way
there will be rest.

I can tell you
that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort
and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
curious insistence
whisper our name:

Beloved.
Beloved.
Beloved.

—Jan Richardson, from Circle of Grace

————————————————————————————

Next Sunday’s Scripture: Loving God

In response to a challenging question, Jesus summarizes the whole of the law: “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.”

What does it mean to love God?

– Why “heart and soul and mind and strength” specifically? What do those four mean to you?

– Jesus is referring to one of the most central confessions of the Jewish people, the Shema: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” It is found in Deuteronomy 6:1-9.

– Martin Luther (drawing on Jewish tradition) put fear and love together: “We are to fear and love God…” How is that helpful? Can it be harmful?
(Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Explanation of the Ten Commandments)

– How do you show love for God?

  • wonder & joy
  • gratitude
  • care for creation
  • loving others
  • _________________________

– The questioner responds: “You are right, Teacher… this is much more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices!”

– We’ll get to Jesus’ 2nd commandment in future weeks!

————————————————————————————

Some people practice love of God through active gratitude. Writer Kaitlin Curtice bases that gratitude on something more than the everyday:

“While I am so thankful for my morning cup of coffee and my warm bed and my healthy children, I need my gratitude to be rooted in something deeper than that today.

I need gratitude that is tethered to the ever-close presence of Jesus in the worst of the world.

I need gratitude that is tethered to the Spirit of God, a Spirit that never abandons.”

– Kaitlin Curtice, “deep gratefulness

————————————————————————————

Sister Joan Chittister reflects on loving God in this short video.

————————————————————————————

————————————————————————————

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.

Mary Oliver, “A Summer Day

————————————————————————————

Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

At thirteen, Danya Ruttenberg decided she was an atheist. As a young adult, she immersed herself in the rhinestone-bedazzled wonderland of late 1990s San Francisco-drinking smuggled absinthe with wealthy geeks and plotting the revolution with feminist zinemakers. But she found herself yearning for something she would eventually call God.

Surprised by God is a memoir of a young woman’s spiritual awakening and eventual path to the rabbinate, a story of integrating life on the edge of the twenty-first century into the discipline of traditional Judaism, without sacrificing either. It’s also an unflinchingly honest guide to the kind of work that goes into developing a spiritual practice-and it shows why, perhaps, doing this in today’s world requires more effort than ever.

Get it on Amazon or find it at your local library.

————————————————————————————

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Join the conversation on Facebook.