Date:
09 Oct 1999
Time:
20:54:56

Comment

to all:

Silenced, both the pharisees and sadducees...

LJC


Date:
13 Oct 1999
Time:
01:06:38

Comment

Thats pretty true. Unfortunate but true. Makes you really think if evil is lurking out there or right here.

SJ in NF


Date:
14 Oct 1999
Time:
18:50:46

Comment

Should we really love our neighbors as ourselves? Some of us are pretty hard on ourselves. In fact some of us are more loving toward others than we are to ourselves. I think this is a wonderful question of love. Love of God, Love of Others, and Love of ourselves. Any thoughts on this love business?

Wendi in Iowa


Date:
14 Oct 1999
Time:
21:05:44

Comment

When we exchange the word love to respect we get a clearer picture of loving yourself. We certainly have self respect. Respect your neighbor as yourself.

Walt from Va.


Date:
17 Oct 1999
Time:
17:25:51

Comment

Dear All,

It's helpful to remember, as I'm sure everyone here already knows, that Jesus didn't just conjure up this response to the Pharisees who were asking him what amounts to yet another "trick" question. For Jesus to have answered with any of the Ten would have been a major error, as each is held in equal status with the other -- something Jesus surely knew. However, to respond from The Law, by quoting Deuteronomy, with what today we call a "summary" of the Law, why, that's imaginative thinking!

What on earth does it mean, however? What on earth are the implications?

The meaning rests somewhere in the midst of the definition of "love", as Walt so correctly suggests. However one reads that word (and surely not erotically, one hopes), the Call of Christ is that we extend to others such measure of it as we extend to ourselves.

What is the implication of it? Ah, here is something potentially quite important. Seems to me that this is the most clear evidence of Jesus' *interpretation* of Hebrew Scripture as I've seen. In the world today, where so many seem to want to approach Scripture literally, taking it at face value without any "interpretation", one seems to want to ask, "is Jesus guilty of 'interpreting' Hebrew Scripture?'" Well, yes, of course he is!

Reminds me of the metaphor which compares the Bible to a telescope. I cannot remember exactly how this goes, but, it's something like this. The Bible is like a telescope because when you look at it, you can only see it -- the book, itself. When, however, you look at the world *through* it, you get to see every detail with much more clarity. In order to look "through it", we must seek to understand it (i.e., like the telescope, bring it into focus).

How can we be possibly be more correctly focused than to take from this parable a very simple Christian truth? Love God, and God's good creation -- neighbor and self!

Peace to all,

Jim


Date:
18 Oct 1999
Time:
02:56:06

Comment

I would love to have the guts to preach this sermon delivered on Sabbath Morning, August 9th, 1857, by REV. C.H. SPURGEON at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens. 142 years old it wouldn't take much to make it topical today.

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0145.htm

Deke in Texas


Date:
18 Oct 1999
Time:
11:18:54

Comment

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself" from Lev.19:18 is preceeded by, "You shall not take vengence or bear a grudge against any of your people," then comes, "but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. It seems like Jesus is explaining that to love God with all our heart and soul and mind, we can't be filling our hearts with grudges against others. Our lists of wrongs take up precious space where we need to be absorbing the infinite goodness of God. I think Jesus wants us to see that we are taking up precious "soul space" with grudges... space within us that could be used to hold God instead. When we are told to love our neighbor as ourselves. I think that is a bit like a parent's instruction to a child to wash their hands before meals as they brush their teeth after meals. It doesn't mean they always DO the latter, but it does mean they are BOTH important and part of staying healthy. DL in ME


Date:
18 Oct 1999
Time:
11:19:22

Comment

How can a scribe or pharisee ask such a question. The shema was at the heart of their faith; said several times a day by the faithful Jew.

It is interesting that the scribe didn't say - hey, we believe this as well. They just moved on to another question. Again he shuts them up.

What is it about confrontation. Eventhough we know the biblical story it is always amazing to recall that Jesus actually had enemies. How does his enemies differ from ours?

tom in ga


Date:
18 Oct 1999
Time:
11:20:07

Comment

In responce to the issues of lack of self love and to substituting the word respect for love You are both on to something. Indeed some of us do have a problem with not loving ourselves. These people so not have self-respect. If love is a continuum, from too little self love,shown is self abasement and harmfull self destructive behavior, to too much self love - narcissism, somewhere in the middle would be self respect. But how can I talk about such things in a sermon. I'm sure Jesus would never use the word continuum. Of course he did tell a story about 2 men at prayer - one self righteous the other humble.

mehrke in SD

Perhaps there is a modern day parable that would make the point.


Date:
18 Oct 1999
Time:
11:20:28

Comment

O.K. I feel pretty comfortable with the first part of this text. After all we are called to love God above all else and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Although I would agree with Wendi that it is sometimes difficult to love ourselves, I believe we are called to by God. After all, if we are made in the image of God and we can't love ourselves, then can we really love God? And if we can look at our neighbors and see the image of God, then perhaps those who have difficulty loving themselves will eventually begin to see themselves as God sees them. Beautiful and perfect creations.

The part I'm having difficulty with is the second part of the text, when Jesus poses the question to the Pharisees. I'm having difficulty making sense of it and what does it mean for the rest of the text. I've just starting studying the text for this week so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I hope everyone had a great week. God Bless,

Rev. B in Colorado


Date: 18 Oct 1999
Time: 12:10:11

Comment

Rev B has a good question and Leon Morris' commentary on the Gospel of Matthew has an answer that works for me. Morris says this psalm was commonly accepted as messianic, which Jesus accepts too, but He (Jesus) points to the fact that in verse 1 the psalmist (understood to be David in the 1st century) says that "the Lord [God] says to my lord..." In other words, David is talking about another whom he identifies as "my lord" (i.e. David is conceding his own inferiority to this other). This was an essential point for Jesus to raise because , as Morris explains, the Messiah anticipated was one in the mold of David, a mighty warrior, and Jesus was pointing out that there was something BETTER than what they were looking for and David, himself, had acknowledged that. DL in ME


Date: 18 Oct 1999
Time: 13:43:33

Comment

Regarding loving one's neighbor as one loves one self: Stephen King writes in "THE STAND" regarding one of the characters used by the Satan figure "he stores up rebuffs the way pirates were supposed to have stored up treasure." Good way of looking at the way things sometimes get in the way of our loving our neighbor. The greek for love in this passage is agapao. This is not the respect one has for others or the erotic love or the familial love. this love is the love that will not not love. Sometimes we reduce loving others and one's self to simple respect when it is far more than that. Let me illustrate this way: Once upon a time there was a man who was very wealthy. The people in the town looked up to him and respected him. in fact, they were a bit awed by him. He was in communication through the internet with thousands of people every day; however, the man was very lonely. His opinion was sought out by people who respected him and knew that this man could help them; however, no one ever dropped by for a cup of tea. As time passed, this wealthy man became more and more isolated. The people still respected and, in a way, feared him. They would talk about how wonderful he was. He had donated millions to the building of a community center, a battered women's shelter, and a library all i nthe hopes of bettering the community and having some human contact. None came. The man was as lonely as ever. Respected, but alone. One day he left his home and went into the neighborhoods surrounding his house. He tried to speak to people but they were so awed by him, held him on such a pedestal that they did not feel liket hey had anything worth speaking to him about. Finally, the man sat down in the park by a sparkling fountain and mixed his own tears with the liquid jewels in the basin. As the man wept, a little boy walking with his mother through the park, playing with his puppy accidently let go of the puppy. The puppy, as all puppies do, ran up to the first person he saw to be appropriately loved upon. The dog sat with her tail wagging, her tongue licking the tears that had fallen on the man's hand. The little boy who had run after the dog was now standing before the man. "Are you OK mister?" The man sighed and just looked at the boy with saddness in his eyes. The little boy held up his elbow to show the man his latest badge of honor-- a band-aid mostly covering a scrape from a fall. "When I fell yesterday and did this. It hurt a lot and I cried and my mommy kissed me and wiped my tears away and then put a band aid on it and hugged me and I felt better." The little boy stood on his tip-toes and kissed the man o nhis forehead, just as his mother had done for him the day before. Then the boy wiped the tears away from the man's eyes and took the band aid off his own elbow and put it on the suit coat right over he man's elbow. Then he hugged the man, patted him on the head and said, "All better." The wealthy man's tears of sorrow turned into tears of laughter as the boy joined him in laughing at something he had no idea about. When the boy's mother turned the corner and saw who it was her son was talking to she approached quickly and hesitantly said, "I am sorry sir, if my son and his dog have bothered you. We will go now." The wealthy man, with tears still in his eyes and the smile undimmed said, "Please, ma'am, no. This boy has brought me something I needed very much." "But you have everything you need." "I have everything I could want," the man said, "And very little of what I need. Respect is a wonderful thing but it can never replace the friendly kisses of a puppy and a child on my forehead or the warmth of human compassion of a hand wiping my tears away or a hug and a band-aid and 'all better'. Yes, I have respect from people but no love. and love, dear woman, love is all we really need."

Think about it my friends. How many of us want the respect of God? I would rather have the love of God and share the love of God than the greatest riches in the world. What is love? It is not the absence of hate or indifference. It is the affinity of one being toward antoher. The magnetic personal draw of one being to antoher which allows us to respect, yes; however, it does not end with respect. It is emotion and reason and hope and peace and joy and faithfulness and gentleness and patience and... well, you know the scriptures. If not look up I Cor 13 and Gal 5:22 on. Instead of a comma after love, place a colon. The fruit of the Spirit is love: joy, peace, patiaence...... Just some initial responses to what I have read. God's blessings be with you as we all partake i nthe call of God to bring the Wor dof God to the peoepl of god. Shalom, Kurt in IN


Date: 18 Oct 1999
Time: 15:59:35

Comment

Rev B asked how the two parts of the pericope hang together. This is what occurred to me: Jesus says Love the Lord your God with all your heart etc. The Pharisees nod their heads in agreement. But Jesus wants to press them further: who really is Lord? Can you acknowledge me, Jesus, as Messiah and God? Of course they can't, so silenced by him, they have to plot to kill him. It's something like the Luke version, where Jesus expands on the 2nd great commandment, by saying "Who is my neighbor?" and telling the story of the Good Samaritan. Here however he presses us on the 1st great commandment: who really is God? Just some initial thoughts. Mike in Maryland


Date: 18 Oct 1999
Time: 16:15:34

Comment

Rev B asks a penetrating question regarding Jesus' question. I struggle with this question as it applies to my situation today? I constantly ask today "Who do I say....." LB in Illinois


Date: 18 Oct 1999
Time: 16:51:37

Comment

Under the heading of pearls of wisdom, I found the following to be (possibly) pertinent to this week's gospel where God (Jesus) is asked questions and His answers are profound:

AN INTERVIEW WITH GOD

"Come in," God said to me, "so, you would like to interview Me?" "If you have the time," I said. He smiled through His beard and said: "My time is called eternity and is enough to do everything; what questions do you have in mind to ask me?" "None that are new to you. What's the one thing that surprises you most about mankind?" He answered: "That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again. That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health. That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future. That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived..." His hands took mine and we were silent. After a long period, I said, "May I ask you another question? As a Father, what would you ask your children to do for the new year?" He replied with a smile. "To learn that they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved. To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have in their lives, but who they have in their lives. To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others, there will be others better or worse than they are. To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least. To learn that they should control their attitudes, otherwise their attitudes will control them. To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and that it takes many years to heal them. To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness. To learn that there are persons that love them dearly, but simply do not know how to show their feelings. To learn that money can buy everything but happiness. To learn that while at times they may be entitled to be upset, that does not give them the right to upset those around them. To learn that great dreams do not require great wings, but a landing gear to achieve. To learn that true friends are scarce, he/she who has found one has found a true treasure. To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they forgive themselves. To learn that they are masters of what they keep to themselves and slaves of what they say. To learn that they shall reap what they plant; if they plant gossip they will harvest intrigues, if they plant love they will arvest happiness. To learn that true happiness is not to achieve their goals but to learn to be satisfied with what they already achieved. To learn that happiness is a decision. They decide to be happy with what they are and have, or die from envy and jealousy of what they lack. To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see something totally different. To learn that those who are honest with themselves without considering the consequences go far in life. To learn that even though they may think they have nothing to give, when a friend cries with them, they find the strength to appease the pain. To learn that by trying to hold on to love ones, they very quickly push them away; and by letting go of those they love, they will be side by side forever. To learn that even though the word "love" has many different meanings, it loses value when it is overstated. To learn that they can never do something extraordinary for Me to love them; I simply do. To learn that the shortest distance they could be from Me is the distance of a prayer." (author unknown)

Rick in Va


Date: 18 Oct 1999
Time: 17:13:37

Comment

wendi raises a good point, we often don't do to well at loving ourselves. Yet isn't Jesus including this in his sumary; love your neighbor as you should love yourself. There is no seperating these 3 loves. If our love is healthy and mature it is a balance of these 3. To grow in any one of these loves is to be better able to love the other 2. Eric Fromm said that any love that is not part of a greater love for God and all creation is not love but a selfish idolitry. Manzel


Date: 18 Oct 1999
Time: 17:39:25

Comment

The religious groups of Jesus day had similar tensions and dynamics to groups today. Sadducees had some similarity to Catholics in feeling the power, the authority, the keys to the kingdom belonged to the church. The Pharasees were more like the Lutherans saying the authority is in the "word" (law) and they believed the law was for everyone. Pharasees were very progressive for their times because they believed that laws could be summed up in simple principles and the Saducees would never accept this. To the Sadducees the scriptures were too infalable to be sumarized or taught to the common people as the Pharasees were attempting to do. Jesus is a problem for the Pharasees because at first they are delighted that he affirms their progressiveness, then Jesus challenges them to go farther, be more progressive, open their minds even more and suddenly they feel very threatened by this. Jesus called them to widen their circle even farther than they could imagine. ( Krister Stendahl of Harvard was more knowledgeble in this area than I) Manzel


Date: 18 Oct 1999
Time: 22:58:58

Comment

I am really struck by the silence. He did this with the Pharisees, the Herodians, and now the Sadduccess! Eventhough they come from different theological and political standpoints, they all react with a kind of passive aggression. Their silence is a murderous silence - the kind of silence filled with contempt. This silence is certainly one response to our Lord. The other response is faith.


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 01:48:29

Comment

Thankyou for the thoughts on respect and love. The well respected man needed love, the little boy will need respect as he grows up to be a person with a sense of autonomy and influence. My son knows that I love him. To express my respect for him loves him in a way that impacts the relationship in making it more mutual.

God's love as a father and mother is not just the love that an adult has for their baby or child. God can also love us with the love that an adult father has for an adult son. This will include respect. We are not only loved as prodigals returning we are also loved as people struggling with all that we are to be God's people in difficult contexts. God appreciates those difficulties and can respect our integrity just as Jesus would affirm to the disciples about a task well done. Sometimes our prayers about where we stand in relation to God need to include thanks for the successes of who we are and what we are growing to be. Prayers of progression as well as confession important to God. Mutual respect is an interesting dimension of our loving relationships. Petereo in Oz


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 02:13:46

Comment

Thanks for all your wonderful input. I'm starting to get a handle on the second half of this text. DL, thanks for commentary.

I also appreciate the many comments on love and respect. I am one who believes that athough we can respect someone and not love them, it is much more difficult to love them and not respect them. I know its not that simple. I find myself loving friends and family members when I can't respect them because of choices they've made. Love goes far beyond that. When all else fails, love still prevails, if we only allow it to. And with love, everything else can be rebuilt in time.

Kurt, would it be O.K. to use your illustration in my sermon this Sunday? What a wonderful message!!!

Give me more, Feed me!!! I love this dialog!!,

Rev B in Colorado


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 17:37:17

Comment

I had a person come to me one day and say, Walt I don't know how to love myself. It was then that I realized that many did not know how to love them selves. Funny how we take much for granted. I did not fully intend that we should literally replace the word "love" with the word "respect" for keeps, but in hopes to show that to know what it is like to have self respect is on the road to really know how to love one's self.

In regards to Christian love, we can love each other in Christ, but we do not necessarly have to "like." That is in some cases we may not have full respect for another person because of what they do or not do according to "our standards" which is not God's standards.

Then we can also get into the arena of "honor." I just wanted to help us understand just how we can learn to love our neighbor as ourselves.

As for myself, I plan to focus on Jesus silencing the Pharasees, etc. with the truth. The truth of God's word will silence error.

Walt in Va.


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 19:18:19

Comment

We love ourselves not because we are so good, or wonderful, or beautiful but because we are owned by God through baptism. Because of whose we are not what we are. God defines us as individuals and as a community of faith. Rev. V in Pa.


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 19:33:24

Comment

facts and/or faith?

The day of the birth of Jesus. (8) eight days later, circumised by Simeon. (2) two years later, fled to Egypt, while Herod the king was killing all boys (2) two years old and younger.

Herod dies, the king who sought to kill the newborn king. Herod the Tetrarch, Archelaus is king of Judea. Jesus returns to Judea.

(12) twelve years later, Jesus goes to the Passover feast. (29) twenty-nine years & (9) nine months later, John the baptist.

(30) thirty years later, Jesus' ministry. (30) thirty years (40) forty days later, Jesus is tempted.

The people of Israel has been given their anointed king, Jesus. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

What was the "gospel" at this time?

No tricks, no traps.

In grace,

LJC


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 19:33:44

Comment

What does it mean that Jesus silenced the pharasees? Matthew chooses to portray this as a "win" for Jesus; that Jesus bested them in the rhetorical showdown and there by shows that he has a better grasp of the truth. OK Matthew your point is well taken but is this the greatest lesson here? To assume that silence from the pharasees means victory for Jesus is a pretty petty view of things. You know what they say about assuming to much... Sometimes silence is golden and sometimes in the stillnes is true depth. It seems to me a greater accomplishment for Jesus if the silence of the pharasees is not simply a sign of embarassment for them or one up for Jesus, but a matter of causing the pharasees to think more deeply than ever before. Manzel


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 20:13:55

Comment

AMEN, Manzel.

Walt in Va


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 20:14:13

Comment

AMEN, Manzel.

Walt in Va


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 21:29:16

Comment

19 OCT 99

A couple things. Whoever said being a Christian was about prohibition? Here's the "proactive" commands, upon which some of very purposes of Christianity are founded (see Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Church", oh, the purposes here would include Worship and Service (loving others)). Of course it raises the question which some of you have been addressing: "How can I love so perfectly? Love the Lord with every fiber of my being? Kind of reminds me of those early morning vineyard workers from a couple weeks ago (Mt. 20:1-16). Had they not taken one single break during the day? Did they not pause to wipe the sweat from their brows? Of course their work had not been flawless or absolutely continuous. Of course our love--of God, neighbor,self--is not perfect. Thankfully God rests His case on grace and our righteousness is ascribed to us through Christ. Now, to figure out where to go with this for a sermon! Blessings to all, faithful workers... Peter in CA


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 22:13:13

Comment

Our jails are full of people who do not love themselves and treat others similarly. I think much could be said about unconditional love, i.e., loving self or others without having to first earn the love. It is a very freeing experience to be loved "as one is".

A story: A third grade boy comes home from school with an "F" on his report card in Reading. He is frightened to show the report card to his father, fearing what his father would do to him for failing. When his father saw the report card, he took his son, put him on his knee and held him closely for a minute. Then he said, "Son, I love you, even with the "F". You do not have to earn my love." Then he said, "Lets talk about your spelling and how we can improve it."........This is unconditional love and the boy knew he was loved as he was. He did not have to earn his father's love or do well in school so his father's ego could be boosted.

In order to love unconditionally, one must first love the Lord above all and have divine energy giving the gift of unconditional love. Left to ourselves, unconditional love is impossible. So, love of God and love of others is intrinsically connected.

I think this sort of love is what attracted people to Christ. He was found among sinners, not in judgement, but in love and acceptance. Moral change came later......after they experienced the grace of unconditional love. Divine energy flows in the act of unconditional love. Henry in Iowa


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 22:19:20

Comment

Why would the Pharisee's ask Jesus such a redundant question? Indeed, the Pharisees lived the shema, they knew this great commandment. They did not ask Jesus in order to learn something - they simply sought to trap him - and thus he silenced them. It is ironic that the Pharisees and Jesus agreed on almost every point of Scripture, and yet they could not accept each other.

tom in ga


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 22:38:59

Comment

Perhaps the questioners never lived the shema but only wore it on their foreheads. Love must be from the heart and not something you where on your sleeve or head.

In verse 44 is it possible that this is a refererence to the crucifixing. WHen Jesus was raised up on the cross His enemies gathered at His feet -- "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet"?

The silence of the Sadducees, Pharisees and Herodians is not rewpectful or awe-full silence but more the silence of the loser. He drove them to think but not to repent, for they are convinced that they are right. When logic fails it is time for the real ad hominum attacks against Jesus. They have hardened their hearts and in silent accord begin to plot His death.

Deke in Texas -- Pax dt Bonem


Date: 19 Oct 1999
Time: 23:47:19

Comment

I cannot share in the enthusiasm expressed by my neighbor Walt for Manzel's thoughts.

Manzel wrote "What does it mean that Jesus silenced the pharasees? Matthew chooses to portray this as a "win" for Jesus; that Jesus bested them in the rhetorical showdown and there by shows that he has a better grasp of the truth....To assume that silence from the pharasees means victory for Jesus is a pretty petty view of things. You know what they say about assuming to much... Sometimes silence is golden and sometimes in the stillnes is true depth... "

I think that Manzel is reading more into Matthew's words that at least I'm able to see. Matthew recorded his observations, to the best of our knowledge. I don't see any assumptions being made by anyone but Manzel. And to imply that Matthew is an ass is beyond the pale for me.

We live in a world that is decaying in relativism, in the darkness associated with the ridiculing of the things of God, and here on this site, we have a shepherd joining the party and ridiculing one of the authors of Holy Scripture.

We've enacted safeguards for this site when someone is personally attacked, yet apparently it is open season on Scripture and the silence is deafening.

Come quickly Lord Jesus...

Rick in Va


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 05:14:49

Comment

Maybe Matthew would have been quite happy to enter into dialogue with Manzel, and not at all defensive. I mean, to the best of our knowledge Matthew was not a first hand observer was he? But a receiver of many stories of Jesus which, like the other gospel writers he put in the sequence he thought best and gave the interpretation he thought best. As we all do. Not that I would call him an ass. Still, the writers of the gospel were entitled to their (often very different) points of view, as we all are, and we don’t have to agree with them on every point do we? But who am I to teach my grandmother (or grandfather) to suck eggs. Bronwyn in NZ.


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 08:12:26

Comment

I would like to suggest that any discussion over Manzel's and/or Rick in VA's comments be taken to the DPS discussion forum. Otherwise, we will spend our time discussing the meaning and validity of scripture, an important discussion, rather than Matthew 22:34-46. jg in nc


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 14:42:29

Comment

"Love your neighbor 'as' yourself." A rabbi with whom I was privileged to share in the faith told me that the prefixed Hebrew Kaph should be translated as "causitive" rather than "comparative" - "Love your neighbor 'because' you love yourself." The concept is that proper self-love is foundational to and source of proper love for others. I have searched, and can find no lexical verification for the rabbi's grammar. Perhaps there is a Hebrew scholar out there who can shed more light. Whether it is grammatically authentic, the thought is certainly psychologically authentic.

Join the analysis of the Greek words for "love": eros, filia, ergos, agape with the above. Note that agape is not an emotion, not a sentiment; but, it is of the will. That is why it can be commanded. Emotions and sentiments cannot be commanded. But, matters of the will can, and are. The best description of agape that I have found is : "the steady direction of the will toward the good of another". "Love is not liking." Agape is the steady determination to abolish all the separating barriers between "them" and "us" with the will to do all persons good. In order to carry that ethos absolutely requires that a person become a member of the universal family of humankind. As far as I can determine, that can't be done apart from becoming one with the ONE - "to love the ONE with all one's being". This is where I'm going with the message for God's people. Dan in OH


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 15:56:59

Comment

Once when I preached on this text I too looked at the difficulty some have with loving themselves. I used the illustration of my brother, who was able to love others but not himself. That led him to take his own life. The idea of the 3 kinds of love being interconected is a good and relevant one. There is a lot of pain out there that the uncondtional love of God in Jesus can and does address. Diana in Ohio


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 17:47:03

Comment

Such great insights, and such an important text! We've been pointing to this "grand finale" of Jesus' conversations with the religious leaders of his day for the last few Sundays -- the discussions he had with them in the Temple just days before his crucifixion. As I noted to the congregation last week, Holy Week and Easter may seem a long way away to us on an October Sunday morning, but in the context of the Gospel According to Matthew, they were just around the corner.

That being said (and with DEEP appreciation for jg's suggestion regarding the Discussion Site so we don't digress from the text at hand on this page) I believe the the text at hand DOES speak precisely to the authority of scripture ... and Jesus' call to the Pharisees, Saducees and US to look beyond the letter to the spirit ALWAYS.

While preaching that he had come to fulfill the Law, Jesus challenged many of the traditional interpretations -- as one commentary put it "Jesus offered a fulfillment of Torah in God's radical love; the leaders of the day insisted on a literal to the letter of the Law as a criteria for holiness." In both cases the "scriptures" have authority ... there is, however, a great divide in how that is interpreted and applied.

These are conversations very close to the heart of many in my congregation, diocese and church ... as we struggle to live together in community and live out our respective vocations with very different understandings of the authority of scripture. I love the telescope analogy ... one I first heard from my bishop who is also a New Testament scholar. If the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the gift God has given us to draw us closer to God (and I believe they are!) then don't we make a golden calf of "the telescope" if we worship IT rather than use it as a vehicle toward holiness? Aren't we falling into the same trap that snared the chief priests and elders in their own rhetoric?

"Love the Lord your God ... and your neighbor as yourself." On these two hang all the law and the prophets.

"What does the Lord require? Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God."

There you have it. Blessings, Susan in SanPedro


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 17:54:33

Comment

For Dan in OH:

The greek has:

"you shall love" second person, singular, future, active, indicative of agapao [long o] note future tense...

"as yourself" os [long o] seauton which is the relative[reflexive] pronoun of the second person, singular, used only in the gentive, dative, accusative.

found as inflected in mt19:19; mt22:39; mk12:31; lu10:27 rom13:9; gal5:14; jas2:8

You [2p.pl.] all of you shall love the neighbor of you which [neighbor] you shall love, yourself.

In grace,

LJC


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 18:16:49

Comment

20 OCT 99

Jesus silenced the Pharisees and Sadducees but is it Christ's objective that from now on none of us "dare to ask him any more questions"? I don't think so... so it must have been something about the tone, motives of these groups (well supported by the text). I believe it was an ad campaign for the Episcopal Church (I am not ECUSA) made a good point: "Christ died to take away our sins... not our mind." Seems like Christ invites all sincere queries; I don't want my listeners this Sunday to hear the end of this text and feel bad about having questions, even doubts. God is certainly the one that can handle such wrestling and in most of our faith traditions we (the clergy) are specially called as interpreters and Spirit-led/entrusted representatives of Christ and our given traditions. Good, faithful, prayerful, Spirit-led and productive work and preaching and teaching to you. Peter in CA


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 18:31:36

Comment

Manzel- Please do not draw running generalizations by comparing the Lutherans with Pharisees and Catholics with Sadducees. Besides sounding bigoted, it is also erroneous.


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 18:35:52

Comment

It seems to draw the following questions: Can you have one without the other? Can you love God with all your heart if you do not love your neighbor? Can we be whole if we do not love our neighbors?

Shuby in Illinois


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 18:45:42

Comment

What motivates the Pharisees in vs. 46 to not ask anymore questions? What would stop us from asking questions of faith?

I recall saying that 'those are not my questions of faith' to someone and they no longer asked questions of me. Might Jesus be saying the same of these folk. You are not asking or do you know even the correct and right questions.

Where is Jesus leading us? What were Jesus' questions about? Phil in KS


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 21:10:39

Comment

Great stuff here this week. Thank you for your illustrations and thoughts. I thought the following from the Holman Bible Dictionary on Christian Love makes a good point. "What is commanded is not an emotion; it is the disciplined will to seek the welfare of others." This is helpful to me. It is something I can take a crack at, even for someone I don't like. I'm continuing to have trouble getting the significance of the second part of this pericope. If this is just some arcane reference to massianic prophecy, then I don't think it preaches very well. One more thought on the commandment to love our neighbors. This incluces our non-Christian, unsaved, neighbors. If one loves them, there is inevitably an imperitive to seek ways to evangelize them. Does that raise the great commission to the status of the shema?

RevBill


Date: 20 Oct 1999
Time: 21:21:22

Comment

I love the simplicity of this text. A straightforward summary of all the law and the prophets. Jesus comes to us in such simple ways, through the stained glass, over our front yard, across the street, down the block, above the font, by the children, in the bread, as a song -- but today we also are reminded that He comes through a neighbor -- our neighbor.

To love God with all our heart, mind and soul is no easy task. It means making everything we see and do a part of God. We are created in this image, we hold the essence of God -- given to us as a gift.

To follow these conditions, of love is beyond all understanding. It surpasses all.

Yet here it is so simple, so innocent: love God and neighbor. So simple it makes me speechless.

Fr. Sully


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 02:48:10

Comment

Love God with all your......and your neighbor as yourself. We're all created in the divine image and we all reflect that divine image. To love our neighbor is to love the reflection of God,to love ourselves (healty love not self-centeredness) is to love the reflection of God. We can't see God directly but we can see refelctions and we see them everyday. Mark in Va.


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 03:26:18

Comment

I think that for the "natural" person (one who has not yet discovered the emensity of God's love) self-love is the highest form of love possible. In the beginning You are the center of your universe. Jesus starts by asking only that you love God and others as much as you can. To paraphrase-"Love God with all you've got, and everybody else too." After they had walked in his love a while, Jesus directed his disciples to "love one another, even as I have loved you." Now that's something else, but no sense asking them to run before they can crawl, so he begins with self. Self-love and self-hatred have this in common, they are both self-centered. Only self-denial, which Jesus would soon demonstrate, will carry you farther toward Godly love, agape. Peace and love, magic tom in tn.


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 03:28:33

Comment

I have enjoyed the dialogue as I have discovered this sight over the past couple of weeks. The text speaks in so many wonderful ways. I am drawn to it. I am reminded of the unconditional love granted to me by my mother when I broke a statue that meant so much to her. She replied by telling me that it was me that was priceless not the heirloom. How powerful!! It is in God's love where I feel priceless even when my life seems worthless. JJ in PA


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 14:06:49

Comment

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind." This reminds me of our brief order for confession and forgiveness, (in Lutherland we confess that we have failed to love God in "thought, word, and deed"). "Heart, mind and soul," are a lot like "thought, word, and deed" they cover all the bases. Jesus was calling his hearers not to something new, but to something that was old (Deut.). Love God with your whole being. Nothing new here but certainly something we never should forget!


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 14:07:14

Comment

Obedience to the great commandment calls for the ultimate covenant commitment which at this moment is captured for me in Ignatius of Antioch's prayerful reference to himself as the "wheat of Christ" when they threw him into the lion's den because he would not deny his faith in Christ.(See reference in Old Testament reading for the day). The essence of God is love and the heart of covenant discipleship is the freedom we find in the ultimate gift-giving of ourself to God in sacramental living. In light of the reflections I have already made in the Deuteronomy 34:1-12 reading, may I add thoughts from the poem of Kahlil Gibran on "Love" which also addresses the "wheat of Christ": "When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.....For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth".....[ "The Wheat of Christ" concept and the sacramental life comes to full fruition in the following verses.]...."Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.....All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart"...(the heart of God). And "who is my neighbor?" Loving God and fulfilling the vocation/purpose for which we have been created cannot be separated from the act of loving others/our neighbor as our selves. The covenant relationship which exists between God, others, and self is, I believe, profoundly spelled out in the mystical vision of Jakob Bohme as well as the contemporary philosophy of Charles Hartshorne ( See "The Divine Relativity"] Love is the essence of God but we meet that love presence only in the covenant relationship revealed in the face of others, i.e., the sacramental life cannot be lived behind "closed doors", the "walls of the church", or in a vacuum! PaideiaSCO contemplating in the north ga mountains.


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 14:25:40

Comment

This past Monday, in a study group I'm part of in which we are reading J. Ellsworth Kalas' book "Parables From the Backside" we read and discussed the chapter on the parable of the prodigal son. The chapter was titled "Love Always Wins...Sometimes" and the most amazing thing about our discussion was how hard a time we were having defining what love is. That is a very important question and one it seems to me needs to be talked about in this passage about love; love for God, love for neighbor; and love for self!


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 14:39:37

Comment

I think it is important to point out to the congregation the Commandments Jesus was referring to were not two of the Ten Commandments, but those found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. revup


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 16:24:58

Comment

Love the Lord your God is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it, not secondary to it but alike to it. One cannot love God without loving the neighbour, neither can one truly love the neighbour without loving God at the same time. Due to our sinful nature we cannot truly love God or neighbour without faith which is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

These two commands to not summarize all of the law and prophets, the law and prophets hang on these two. That may mean that the law and prophets, to be understood and observed correctly, need to be interpreted with love of God and neighbour always foremost in our minds. When we love God and neighbour then we can correctly understand and observe the law and prophets.

Shalom: Tom in Ontario


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 17:18:56

Comment

Just a couple of thought chasers to add from Brunera's commentary:

"'As yourself.' The love of self is not a third command, much as we sometimes wish it were in an age when self-esteem is in short supply.... The words, 'as yourself' suggest the habitual imaginative replacement of the other person with oneself; they prompt believers to ask themselves, 'How would I want to be treated here?'.... The phrase, 'as yourself' in this second command, then, is simply another way of saying what the words 'with all that you are' said in the the first command."

And again, "The individualism, the small-bore scale of Jesus' command to love one's neighbor as oneself rather than a wider New Age universalism of world love, recalls William blake's ovservation: 'He who would do good to another, must do it in Minute Particulars/ General Good is the plea of the scoundrel hypocrite and flatterer.'"

So often we feel that it is necessary for us to change the world. I recall one person saying that, when they were young, they desired to change the world. Later on, they wanted to change others. Now they would be satisfied if they could just change themselves. I believe that is what Jesus is asking. What do we need to do? Save everyone? Make sure the world isn't going to hell in a handbasket? Feed everyone? Make sure that our churches are perfect in morals or doctrine? The answer is more and less than we had hoped for: "Love God and love one another." That is the most we can hope to do - and what is expected of us. No great person has done more than this; it is the basis by which every life shall be judged: "Did you love God with all of your being? And what about your brother/sister?"

There is both grace in this, and plenty of challenge!

Gary in New Bern


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 17:23:43

Comment

I notied that I added an extra letter to Bruner's name. I don't know who Brunera is, have never spoken to him, and wouldn't know him if I met him. Don't look for his commentary - to my knowledge, he never wrote one. Bruner, however, wrote a two-volume commentary!

Gary in New Bern


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 18:07:24

Comment

REv B. Sure, use anything you want. That's why it is here. Kurt in IN


Date: 21 Oct 1999
Time: 20:39:02

Comment

Tom, you wrote: "These two commands do not summarize all of the law and prophets, the law and prophets hang on these two." You are correct. It is amazing how one little word can make such a difference. These two commandments are not a summary of the law and the prophets, as I stated in an earlier post.

What does it mean to hang? These two laws are so strong, that all HANG on them. That's a much more powerful statement than a summary. An analogy about a top-heavy coat hanger comes to mind, as it topples over when everything is not balanced properly. My sermon may head towards an "of the world not in it" approach, or too much secular not enough scriptural, or too much hate not enough love, or...

On another note: has anyone looked at 1 John Chapter 2? The author gives a commentary of these commandments related to light and darkness.

Fr. Sully


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 00:33:42

Comment

If you'll forgive the length, two decent illustrations from SermonIllustrations.com

To simply remain a bystander, occasionally putting in a good word for love, is not sufficient. Only when we are actually involved in life's experiences does our love come alive. God's love involved him in the mess of the world. To use a common expression, "He got his hands dirty." We too must suffer the pain of love and expect to pay the price.

Contrary to the sentiments expressed so often when we say "I love you," love isn't simply passion, affection, close ties, and friendship. It is more accurately described by words like unconditional and sacrificial. They take us beyond a view of love as easy and natural. Love causes pain, and we by nature back away from pain. Love requires that we sacrifice, and we by nature avoid such sacrifice. Love demands an unconditional commitment, and we by nature fear committing ourselves so completely. Love exposes our fragile natures.

Marbury E. Anderson in James W. Cox, The Minister's Manual: 1985, New York: Harper & Row, 1984, p. 149

__________________________

By the main warehouses that are right down on the river there is a daily operation that occurs. To keep all the barges able to come in you have to constantly dredge the channel. And when the sand comes up out of the bottom of the river and is dumped on the side it makes wonderful places to play because it creates these huge sand hills and kids love to play on them. There's really nothing more fun than playing on those huge sand hills and there's nothing more dangerous. Because when the sand comes out of the river bottom, it's wet and it creates a crust on the top of the hills. You can get on the top of them and they will collapse and the sand will sink you down inside the hill. Some years ago two brothers didn't come home for dinner and their bikes were found outside the fence where the dredging had been going on. The family began to search frantically as well as other rescuers for the two brothers. They finally found one. He was buried up to his chin in the sand. Because of the pressure of the wet sand and muck around him he was not breathing so they began to dig frantically. When they uncovered him down to his waist he regained consciousness and the family, in hysterics, began to say, "Where's your brother? Where's your Brother? Where's your brother?" And what he said was, "I'm standing on his shoulders."

The one brother had given his life for the good of another. It is an example of course of what Christ did for us that he gave himself to lift us up to our God. What we are doing as Christians...we are the foundation to lift others up so that they might find life in Christ.

Brett Blair, Sermon Illustrations, 1999 Adaptation of story heard on a Campus Crusade for Christ Broadcast.

Rick in Va


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 00:45:33

Comment

Peace, I'm reading Manzel with great interest. His take on things is fairly close to mine. If you read the Marcan version of this story we get a humane conversation between two people who respect each other and share common understandings. The whole Mattai version of the story reflects the enormous competition between Matthew and the Pharisees after Jesus's death. Putting Matthew and Mark side by side this time, is instructive. Harriet


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 00:48:29

Comment

Our congregation is finishing up its 50th anniversary celebration this Sunday - the text seems extremely appropriate to the occassion. Our theme has been, "Remember, Rejoice, Renew." drawing to the end of the celebration, we are moving from the<"Remember, Rejoice" themes toward the "Renew" theme. Included will be a recovenanting service, using the Baptismal Affirmation and a celebration of Ministries in the World. In the narthex will be a list of all those who have been part of our congregation's ministry over fifty years - we will leave that list up through All Saints. The point is simply that, as we look forward to the next step of our history, to recovenanting for the new millenium, this double focus of Jesus, to "love God with all your heart and soul, and strength and mind, and your neighbor as yourself," is what we need to "hang" our ministry on. We remember the swiss and german settlers who first came to New Bern who, in a broader eccumenical spirit that is often seen even today, joined together with their Anglican brothers and sisters to form the first church in the area - an Anglican congregation. We remember and celebrate all those who later founded, and labored in this ministry, we celebrate their gifts, passed on to us, as a labor of faith and love. Remembering and rejoicing in their faith and love, we renew our committment to minister to those around us - to our community. Most of this congregation is "displaced northerners" who, in their ministry, will have to cross cultural and religious boundaries to minister "where they are!" That is, I believe, the challenge of the lesson as well. The Pharisees and Saducees wanted to do ministry on their own terms. Jesus calls them to do it on God's terms - to love him first, then out of that love, to love the neighbor, having as much concern for their neighbor as they were showing for themselves.

Gary in New Bern


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 02:40:18

Comment

I found this parable written by Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro in a book called "Prayers for a Thousand Years." I think it fits fairly well into this weeks text.

In the beginning God made a single human from the dust of the earth. This one was red, yellow, brown, black and white, for all the sands of creation were used to fasion it. Male and female it was, for God had not yet separated the sexes. And God said: This one is in My Image, for this one includes all creation in one being.

"God had thought this being would be happy, but it was not happy. It was lonely. So God divided the one human in two, female and male. And then these two divided themselves even further until the unity of the first person was lost in the divisions created by the many people who followed.

"And God was saddened by the false divisions. So God called all the people together and stood them in a great valley. God called each person to stand before a divine mirror in which each person saw reflected not her own image, but the images of everyone else.

"Many people were frightened by the strange mirror, and ran away to hide. But others understood that God was reminding them of their unity. And these people set for themselves a great task: to help each of us see the whole world reflected in each face. God helped them. God took the great mirror and made millions upon millions of tiny mirrors. God placed these tiny mirrors in the eyes of every human being, even you and me, so that if you look in another's eyes you will see reflected there the whole world and the One who created it.

"You are the children of those daring few, and it is time for you to carry on their work: to learn to look into they eyes of another and see the whole world and the One from Whome the whole world flows. If you fail, if you see only yourself reflected in God's mirror, the lie you will live will burn the world to a cinder. The whole world is waiting for you, my children. You must see the truth and proclaim it. You must open your eyes and see."

And the children looked at each other in awe. Some saw and smiled. Some saw and cried. Some could not see at all. But all held tight, one to the other, and God signed a great sigh of hope.

I know it was long but I hope you enjoyed it.

Rev B in Colorado


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 03:56:59

Comment

Dear Rev. B. Thank you for your lovely post. It reminded me that we are not alone in our commission to heal the world. All people of faith are commissioned by their most holy books to do the same. I must confess that I find Mattai disturbing. He quotes the great commandments and then undercuts it with combativeness and competition. Jesus may or may not have said what Mattai ascribes to him. Mark tells a very different story. Peace Harriet


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 03:57:55

Comment

Christian philosopher Simone Weil has written that true love requires our complete attention. Consequently, we cannot try to love God, much less ourselves, when we are truly loving another person. We lack the energy and focus to do both.

However, this does not mean that God is displeased when we focus our attention in love toward another. Our love for another will make us more ready to love God when God comes to us. (Really, how can we love God when most of the time we recognize God as merely a character in Bible stories or as some intangible 'force?') One day, God may come to us, Weil writes, and then we will know the one who loves us.

More Weil's thoughts than mine, DSS


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 06:07:34

Comment

I have always thought that one of the wonderful things about these two commandments is they suggest options. Sometimes it is through the love of another that we can open ourselves to the grace of God's love. And sometimes when we are to broken to reach out to others in love it is God's love for us which opens us up to a deeper love of God which in turn can help us love others. These two commandments among other things open up hope of growing into a deeper love of God and neigbour and self.

I am uneasy about the love/like dichotomy as in the "I love you but I don't particularly like you.." I believe that one of the great mysteries of God is that God is capable of being absolutlely thrilled with me at the same time God is broken hearted at what a hopeless and graceless creature I can be. Ace in Vancouver, B.C.


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 12:33:41

Comment

Sully is right about 1 John 2. In verse 11 we have "But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness; he walks in it and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has made him blind." There is so much of God that we miss if we can't look at each other with love. This also provides a link to both sections of the text... the Pharisees and Sadducees were blind to the Messiah because they were approaching Jesus with hate, not love of neighbor. Jesus tried to show them that they needed to be looking for a different kind of Messiah than they'd pictured, but because they looked at Jesus with defensiveness and fear/hatred they were blinded to God's truth and to God's Self. DL in ME


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 12:37:08

Comment

I continue to be uneasy about two things.

The willingness to dismiss Scripture because of how we 'feel' about it.

The willingness to assume that "All people of faith are commissioned by their most holy books to.." heal the world.

The doctrines of most faiths completely contradict Christ's teachings and His purpose. To teach that all faiths lead to God is to practice a form of idolatry that Christ came to abolish. When shepherds of Christ's flock are doing this teaching I shudder.

To dismiss Scriptures because they make you 'feel' uneasy is the poorest excuse of them all. Christ is more concerned with one's will rather than one's emotions. Emotions can and will lead one astray. It is the will that must be brought into submission to God's Holy Spirit. Our emotions may lead to repentance, but it is the will that carries it through.

The feminization of Christian doctrine has led to a theology of emotion rather than a theology of the will, to the detriment of the church.

I would humbly suggest repentance.

In Christ,

Rick in Va


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 13:40:13

Comment

"the teacher of the law asked Jesus a question to TEST him.." Ever wonder who is testing who? The learned teacher of the law thought he would reveal Jesus' ignorance. Jesus was only a country bumpkin from Galilee. The teacher of the law was probably among those who sat in the best seats in the synagogue. He wore long flowing robes that pointed out his status. Silencing Jesus would be easy! But who winds up being silenced! Who is testing who? Look also to Jesus' call to action. While the pharisee asked a thought question, Jesus rsponds with a call to action. "You shall love.. " RLFGary


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 13:44:42

Comment

The Bible is surely the way God provides us for dialogue and testing of faith and doctrine; more importantly, "The Word is God", but please note the creation story that refers to humans being made in the IMAGE of God said people were made, male and female, in the image of God. Using "feminizing" derisively does violence to the Word of God. The image of God is inclusive. As 1 John 2 sheds light on our Gospel reading, loving our neighbor is not about "emotion", it's about vision. This is what we're discussing isn't it? DL in ME


Date: 22 Oct 1999
Time: 13:47:37

Comment

I'm posting on the discussion site some words from John Stott on notions of pluralism. I think it timely in light of some of what I've read here this week.

Rick in Va


Date:
22 Oct 1999
Time:
19:59:33

Comment

I would hesitate to denounce feelings too much. We have been blessed with the gift of feeling and it is an integral part of our being. I believe our lives are ultimately based on feelings. No matter how much we attempt to rationalize things within our lives, we are ultimately driven by feeling. When one is "called" into the ministry, is it because they have rationalized that it is what is best for them, or have them come because the all consuming "feeling"--calling that fills their hearts and minds. We have been given emotions for a very important purpose--to be able to love and be loved, to feel compassion and empathy, to listen to what is being told to us and go with "what our gut tells us to do." Yes we must look at scripture in a rational manner, but we also must listen carefully to what our emotions are telling us. I believe it is a combination of both and when we discount one or the other we are doing ourselves and everyone around us a disservice.

I also believe that we must look at Matthew and all the gospels in that light. Matthew wrote and interpreted Jesus' life based on what he heard and what he felt about who Jesus was. It is a powerful translation and something we can learn a lot from. And yet, it is an interpretion as to what happened. I don't have to agree with everything Matthew wrote. I am called to listen, to interpret and to feel the message.

I believe we tend to forget that scripture was written by human beings who were interpreting life and God and their relationship with God. Yes, I believe scripture was inspired by God, but I also believe my sermons are inspired by God. That does not mean that what I say is not up for reinterpretation. I believe this is also true with the scriptures. Just because what Matthew says about Jesus is written down does not mean that it is not up for reinterpretation. God speaks to us all on a daily basis, and God helps us to understand the meaning behind the message. No one is going to convince me that scripture is infallible. Simply looking at the four gospels (and Q and the gospel and Thomas and many others that weren't included in the bible) show us that people interpret and understand things differently. We are called to help others interpret and understand Gospel through the lens of our own faith.

I think we also must remember that the bible was put together, not by God but by a lot of dead, white guys who were in POWER positions in the church. There are many more books out there telling the stories of God that were not included in the bible as we know it today. We should nonetheless consider it all when we attempt to understand the world of God.

I appreciate this sight and the many insights and interpretations others bring to it.

Rev. B in CO


Date:
22 Oct 1999
Time:
20:00:10

Comment

Speaking of the Discussion Site, I would "humbly suggest " that comments such as " The feminization of Christian doctrine has led to a theology of emotion rather than a theology of the will, to the detriment of the church" -- if expressed at all -- are better expressed in that context. Thanks. (Yes, it's Susan in SanPedro)


Date:
22 Oct 1999
Time:
20:01:51

Comment

There is some wonderful stuff here this week. I hope that the following thoughts aren't too late. As I read your contributions, what I want to say is, "Yes, yes, yes!!!!" Human beings alone are not capable of unconditional love. With God's love, unconditional love is made possible. God's love is given with no strings. We can abuse it, we can ignore it, we can even respond to it. And our response can be one that is pleasing to our Lord. But, love did not comnand us to resopnd. Love drew us to respond. It motivated us, did not force or require us.

Human beings, fearing that others will not resopnd appropriately, often want to attach strings to their love. Give love in hopes that X, Y, or Z will happen. Rather than trusting that our love for others will motivate them to respond in some positive way. Without God in the formula it isn't possible. Because we, as the ones offering love, are in need of God's unconditional love. And we, as the ones offering, are the one's in need of God to trust that the other will respond -- not as we want them to respond, but as God moves them to respond.

It's not all about us after all. It's still all, and essentially about God. I sure do love this sermon work -- it's such a great way to reflect critically -- on the text, on the world, on me in the world, and on God!!! Thanks

InterfaithREVinMN


Date:
23 Oct 1999
Time:
01:22:00

Comment

Can we really love the Lord with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind? No one here seems to think so. Loving the Lord this way is not something we can do, but the Lord will help help us work toward this when we turn to the Lord. Perhaps this is what the second part of the text is about. Shuby asked if we can be "whole" if we do not love our neighbors. The notion of shalom begins with being reconciled to the Lord (being loved by God and loving God). This is the first table of the cammandments. Loving our neighbor (and ourselves) becomes much easier when we see that God loves us ad them for who God's sees them to be, not who I see them to be. This is the second table of the commandments.

It's also interesting that Jesus does not say "love your neighbor with all your heart, soul, and mind." This would be idolatry. So actually the command to love the Lord is the harder command. But again, this is where it starts.

Jonesy


Date:
23 Oct 1999
Time:
01:25:09

Comment

Rev B. In Co,

Your "dead white guys" comment is appallingly offensive. I have one request of you. Have the courage to stand before your flock and repeat those words.

The fact that you have not been struck dead is evidence that God has mercy.

Rick in Va


Date:
23 Oct 1999
Time:
01:34:52

Comment

A longish quote from Eugene Peterson's "Answering God" about feelings and their unreliability - I don't know if it's on-topic or not.

"Feelings are the scourge of prayer. To pray by feelings is to be at the mercy of glands and weather and digestion. And there is no mercy in any of them. Feelings lie. Feelings deceive. Feelings seduce. . . . .

To suppose that our emotions in any way give us reliable evidence of the nature or quality of our life with God is to misinterpret them. They are wonderful and necessary and glorious. They are part of the rich and stunning complexity of the human being in the image of God. We must value and develope and share them. But they are not prayer. All the spiritual masters are careful to guide us in a detatchment from our feelings as a means for discerning grace or guiding prayer." (p. 87)

I just like that a lot. kbc in sc


Date:
23 Oct 1999
Time:
12:14:35

Comment

Or perhaps the fact that I haven't been struck dead is an indication that God agrees with me. But then again, I don't see God as a white guy either. By the way, I have stood up and said this in my congregation, and they actually appreciated it very much. I even serve a rural community, which one would assume is going to be very closed to such suggestions. However, many within my congregation appreciate the fact that I am speaking about the issues of how the bible, as we know it today, actually came into being. I encourage my congregation to be open to many different views about scripture, and they relish the opportunity to do so. I think they have felt oppressed in the past when they have been told what to believe. They enjoy the opportunity to think for themselves. I apologize if I offended anybody. That was not the intention. I was merely addressing the issues of interpretation.

Rev B in CO


Date:
23 Oct 1999
Time:
12:15:02

Comment

I don't know about Manzel's notion that Saducees were Catholics and Pharisees were Lutheran but I am pretty sure Jesus was a Methodist. Lighten up, I'm kidding( I'm real sure!) Tom in Tn. having fun.


Date:
23 Oct 1999
Time:
12:16:07

Comment

Rick in VA,

I have been visiting this site for a long time. There has yet to be a week when I have not read something form you that is absolutly ridiculous and hate filled. I understand from what I have read that you have not yet been ordained ofr ministry in the church....my pray is that you either will see the error of you ways before that happens or that it does not happen at all. Having said that You have a rsponsibility inherent in your baptism. You have been commission to do as Jesus as asked this week...LOVE....I'm not sure that you are aware of what that is all about. In any event I wish to express to Mr. Schaefer....if he ever sees this stuff....that he may want to in some way caution you as you are a clear deterent to others. I keep reading post of those who are fed up and leave and never visit again. You my friend are prohibiting good theological discussion on the lectionary that is releveant and scholarly....all in the name of God.....just another of the litany of things that people do to hurt one another.


Date:
23 Oct 1999
Time:
12:16:40

Comment

This might be too long of a post for many of you, and I am not offended if you choose to scroll past it. I am a lawyer, the father of an 8th grader, and a Sunday School teacher. I had an interesting experience today that I'd like to tell you about.

This morning, I attended the Parents Day activities at my son's school -- a day in which parents are encouraged to attend their children's classes. I attended my son's theology class. It is apparent that for many of the kids, this class is their first significant exposure to the Bible. For those children who have been exposed, it is probably their first in depth look at the different layers. Today's class was summary class of the lessons they had studied thus far in the Book of Genesis, and the study focused on what Genesis has to say about God, ourselves, and our relationship with God. Much of the discussion centered around the creation stories (particularly of Adam and Eve), of Cain and Abel, of the destruction of the earth by flood, of Jacob and Esau, of God's test of Abraham in the sacrifice of Isaac. The kids struggled with Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden, the flooding of the earth, and the horrifying test of Abraham. The consequences seemed so severe to these kids. Several o

One of the children in the class made the point that Adam was given but one commandment by which to live his life: "Don't eat the apple." "What kind of commandment is that?", she asked. The Bible, of course, calls it the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a tree much more significant than an apple tree, and a tree over which God reserved authority. These kids don't yet grasp that God wanted a people in whom God could fully be God. But in this child's perspective, forbidding apples is not much of a commandment to live by. And the consequences for sinning against that commandment, that law, were so severe that God was seen by her as being not only unforgiving, but also disinterested in continuing the relationship. And for that matter, she couldn't find anything to indicate that Adam and Eve were very much interested in God after the punishment either.

I can't wait for that child to discover (and I'm convinced that she will) that over the centuries which followed, God gave us new laws, laws intended to foster a relationship with God. God gave us the Ten Commandments because he loved us and so he could show us the righteousness and principles of the one in whose image we are made. Through Moses in his Second Address, immediately following the Ten Commandments, God delivered this commandment (Deuteronomy 6:5-12) for life in the Promised Land -- that place in life which God has given to each of us: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your sould and with all your strength", a commandment that goes on to say this commandment is to be in our hearts, talked about with children, bound upon our foreheads, and permanently remembered in a world where God provides everything.

The Lectionary lesson from Matthew jumps some 1500 years later, and just in the nick of time. Jesus is only a day or two away from the crucifixion.

The Pharisees were conspiring to trap Jesus so they could justify a trial. A good Pharisee would be wearing a phylactery on his forehead, which included the very words from Deuteronomy which which Jesus quoted back to them as being God's supreme law. Jesus was given the opportunity to tell us, on God's behalf ... one more time just so we'd be sure to get it .. his greatest law and his highest desire for us. In the shadow of the Cross which was God's highest statement that he loves us, Jesus recalled God's own words that were once delivered by Moses and now by the One who would save us: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment."

The very words which Jesus said should be written in our hearts were right there on the Pharisees' foreheads, and they missed it. They missed it so much that they conspired to have Jesus killed. The used the "lesser" laws to condemn him to a cross.

I'm in awe of this commandment as I reflect upon it tonight. Until that eighth grade girl asked the question: "What kind of commandment is this?", I don't think I've ever had such a grasp of just how far God has gone to establish relationship with us. The Cross shows that God never stopped loving us, and through Christ we will not be banished from the garden for our sins. And this commandment, reissued in the Cross' shadow, shows that God doesn't want us to stop loving him.

In only a day or two, God would act to save us, and to offer us a life in an eternal paradise even greater than the Garden of Eden. He was giving us everything we would ever need to allow him to live fully and lovingly within us (including the forgiveness that seemed so far away from that child). And God did it through the Son in whom he lived fully, and through whom he would demonstrate to all the world for all future time that he loves us. All of the laws, even the laws associated with the tree, pointed to this greater law (and this lawyer needs daily reminders of this). And the prophets pointed to the day it would be delivered and to the one who would deliver it. The people in whom God will fully be God are those who love him back. And this relationship has profound implications on all other relationships -- our relationships with each other and to ourselves. And it has profound implications upon when we pursue, and the justice we seek.

This verse leaves me in awe of just how far God has gone for relationship with us. I'm in awe that this loving God could possibly love me and that he would care enough about me that it matters to him that I should love him back. And I'm in awe of just how far God is about to go with that eighth grade child who struggles with tough questions. God is making sure that she will read this commandment in Deuteronomy this semester, and from the shadows of the Cross in Matthew in the spring. What she is about to study is Good News (in fact, her Bible has that title).

Thanks for all of your contributions. They help me in my Sunday School lessons, and they help me spiritually.

Brad in Texas


Date:
23 Oct 1999
Time:
12:17:46

Comment

This is probably too late for most of you for Sunday, here it’ still quite early on Sat night. But it could be usful some other time. It’s quite a nice illustration for loving others as yourself, although not completely relevent for most of the reading.For a visual it’s good if you can get hold of a picture of one of Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures. The great painter and sculptor Michelangelo , once bought a piece of inferior-looking granite which no one else would buy. Asked why he'd bought it he said 'Because there's an angel in there and I must set it free'. When Michelangelo was working on a sculpture, he didn't use the usual method of working on the figure from all sides. But Michelangelo used to work from the front and carve back so that the figure emerged, as if it had been trapped in the stone, as if he was freeing it. Michelangelo looked at the piece of granite, which no one else wanted, and saw an angel needing to be set free. God looks at us, and sees our fears and our limitations, the things which lock us in. And God also sees our abilities, our inner beauty, our potential. God sees the angel inside us waiting to be set free. God is the sculptor who brings forth our true created selves. As we open ourselves to God, allowing that sculpturing to take place, we become aware of that beauty within ourselves and within others.

Bronwyn from NZ


Date:
23 Oct 1999
Time:
17:44:02

Comment

Bronwyn, thank you! It's not too late for me. I love the invitation to look at each other as works of art in progress! I think I will use this illustration. It is particularly useful because of the vision of a figure moving forward. If we are to love our neighbors, we must move forward with them, away from past grudges, failures, etc. Thank you. DL in ME (where there is still time to add finishing touches to a sermon!)


Date:
24 Oct 1999
Time:
03:24:39

Comment

To Brad in TX:

It certainly was not an apple that Adam and Eve ate! It had to be some other fruit...say an orange. :-)

JL in TX

Former resident of Washington State and supporter of the Washington State Apple Commission


Date:
24 Oct 1999
Time:
03:43:22

Comment

It's late Saturday night, but I just wanted to check out the posts again before going to bed. I noted a few on the place of feelings in faith - might be fodder for a good discussion elsewhere. Feelings, of course, cannot be the foundation for faith - feelings come and go. Yet I believe God addresses every aspect of our being, including our feelings. We also have to be careful about "reason" as well, however. It was for good reason that Luther called it a "whore." It goes to bed with whatever we have already decided is the truth. Reason always has blinders on it, based on prejudices, culture, and a host of other things through which we filter it. That is why we need to be very humble in our opinions on this page. I'm sorry to see that we have to have someone watch over us, to "smack our hands" because some can't behave. The anonymity (sp?) of the internet seems to provide an excuse for some to say things that (I hope!) they would never say in person. Here's hoping that we can be a little more grown

Gary in New Bern


Date:
24 Oct 1999
Time:
03:57:11

Comment

I am continuously amazed at how I'm villified for what I say while anybody can say anything about the Holy Scriptures and the ensuing silence is deafening.

Nevertheless, I'll continue my mission to educate those willing to open their minds.

More from John Stott, on the authority of Scripture and Christ's love for the same. Why can't some be Christ-like in this area?

Authentic Christianity >From the writings of Dr. John R. W. Stott

Teacher and Lord

'That is what I am' Looking round at his disciples, Jesus said, 'You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right; that is what I am' (Jn. 13:13).

The Christian is under both instruction and authority. He looks to Jesus as his Teacher to instruct him, and as his Lord to command him. He believes what he believes because Jesus taught it, and he does what he does because Jesus told him to do it. He is our Teacher to instruct us, and we learn to submit and to subordinate our minds to his mind. We do not presume to have views or ideas or opinions which are in contradiction to the views and ideas of Jesus Christ. Our view of Scripture is derived from Christ's view of Scripture, just as our view of discipleship, of heaven and hell, of the Christian life, and of everything else, is derived from Jesus Christ. Any question about the inspiration of Scripture and its authority therefore resolves itself to: 'What did Jesus Christ teach about these points?' We would say, without any doubt, that he gave reverent assent to the authority and inspiration of the Old Testament. There is no indication anywhere in his teachings that he disagreed with the Old Testament writers. He regarded the words of the Old Testament writings as being the words of God. He submitted to them in his own life, he believed them, he accepted their statements, and sought to apply their principles. He regarded Scripture as the great arbiter in dispute. He said to his contemporaries, 'You make many mistakes, because you don't know the Scriptures.' We find in the New Testament that he invested the apostles with authority to teach in his Name. He said that the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth, would bring to their remembrance what he had spoken to them, and would show them things to come. He evidently expected that in the providence of God there would be others to interpret, expound, and bear witness to the revelation given in himself, just as there were prophets raised up by God and inspired to bear witness to what he did in Old Testament days. To sum up, the authority of Scripture is due to the inspiration of Scripture. The Old and New Testaments are authoritative in our lives, because they are in fact inspired. And therefore, since Jesus Christ is our Teacher as well as our Lord, the authority of Christ and the authority of Scripture stand or fall together.

--From 'Teacher and Lord', "Decision" (March 1965) (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association).

Rick in Va


Date:
24 Oct 1999
Time:
17:32:35

Comment

What impresses me presently about this text is the connection between love of God , love of self and love of neighbor. I just finished reading the Spurgeon sermon one of you included in your comment and it occured to me that more people today exihibit a lack of love for self than Spurgeon reflects in his sermon. This may not be accurate, but so it seems to me. Recently in our paper there was mention of three seperate incidents of suicide. Surely these people had somehow lost touch with love of self. This has caused me to meditate on the connection between love of self and love of God. It is interesting to me that the commandment to love our neighbor does not stand alone or "hang in mid air", but is suspended from the understanding of love of self. Perhaps without an understanding of God's love, love of self becomes incomplete. Without love of self, love of neighbor suffers. Nothing new, just hit me square this morning.

Rev. P on the Miss. Gulf Coast


Date:
24 Oct 1999
Time:
17:33:46

Comment

Thanks Frank- I imagine it is a difficult thing for you, even a burden... it is the price we pay when we have freedom and want to keep it when everyone has access and we have to try the way of trsut

want you to know that there are those who understand the difficult choicees you face

....only from time to time....

(does that mean that the joke I sent about the dead chicken and dead preacher, won't make it?...only fooling....don't look for it!)

don hoff, elmira,ny

donaldhoff@aol.com