Love others as you love yourself (Bible readings for Sunday, Sep. 7, 2008)
Abraham Lincoln once promised (so I am told) that if he found a church whose creed was the Golden Rule, he’d join it. He never found one.
Maybe he’d read what St. Paul recommended:
“Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code--don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of--finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.”
Seems like every time religion goes bad it’s because someone’s persuaded others that something—a doctrine, a tradition, a cause, a nation—is more important than loving others. Paul and Jesus have no such illusion.
Just below are the rest of the Scriptures I’ll be preaching from this Sunday. Oops, I’m not preaching this Sunday. My old friend Jolean Rice, prayer-traveler of Romania and China, will be here telling her story.
Thanks for coming by!
Proper 18 (23) September 7, 2008
Ezekiel 33:7-11; Psalm 119:33-40; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20
But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about! —Paul, in Romans 13:8-14 (The Message)
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him--work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.
“Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” —Jesus, in Matthew 18:15-20 (The Message)
“You, son of man, are the watchman. I’ve made you a watchman for Israel. The minute you hear a message from me, warn them. If I say to the wicked, ‘Wicked man, wicked woman, you’re on the fast track to death!’ and you don’t speak up and warn the wicked to change their ways, the wicked will die unwarned in their sins and I’ll hold you responsible for their bloodshed. But if you warn the wicked to change their ways and they don’t do it, they’ll die in their sins well-warned and at least you will have saved your own life.
“Son of man, speak to Israel. Tell them, ‘You’ve said, “Our rebellions and sins are weighing us down. We’re wasting away. How can we go on living?”‘
“Tell them, ‘As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live. Turn your life around! Reverse your evil ways! Why die, Israel?’
God, teach me lessons for living
so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me-
my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me-
promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics-
but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
preserve my life through your righteous ways!
Tags: Abraham+Lincoln, lectionary+proper+18+A, lectionary+September+7, Ezekiel+33, Psalm+119, Romans+13, Matthew+18, golden+rule, love+one+another, reconcile, Monte Asbury