An act of worship at home
Reading Matthew 22: 34-40
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “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. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
I wonder how many of you remember the “Love is…” cartoons by the New Zealand cartoonist, Kim Casali, or Kim as she signed them. As I was remembering then I googled “love is cartoon images” and the first to come up was “Love is… what keeps us together when we’re apart.” How appropriate at the moment, and how true!
In answer to a Pharisee asking him which the greatest commandment is Jesus quoted two, both centred on love.
““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. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’”
But what is love? To many of us that may seem such a silly question. If we grew up in a family where we experienced undemanding affection, were praised for doing something well and forgiven for getting something wrong, but above all where we were accepted for being ourselves, then we know what love is.
Or if we have known the blessing of a deeply close relationship and maybe the joys of our own family where each is valued and for the unique person they are, then we know what love is.
Of if we have a friend, a neighbour or someone at church who really knows us well and cares about us, then we know what love is.
But that all still fails to cover all that love is, which I think is why I liked the “Love is…” cartoons, there must have been hundreds of them, each expressing a different aspect of what love is and how it’s experienced. I liked them, but I do remember one that I disagreed with. It stated that “Love is… never having to say you’re sorry.”
Jesus tells us that the two most important commands are to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
And then he ends it by telling the Pharisee, who was also a lawyer, that everything in the law and the prophets, everything his life was supposedly focused on, depended on and could only be understood in the light of these two commandments, to love God, to love our neighbours, and to love ourselves (and I am sure it’s no accident it is written in that order).
I wonder which you find most challenging.
Perhaps it depends on your neighbour… or how you see yourself… or how you see God.
The truth is we may find it easier to love God than our neighbour (why do they have to be so noisy?!). And it may be easier to love our neighbour than ourselves because we know all those things we’re ashamed of and hide from others.
If we love then saying sorry is something that we do automatically when we hurt the one we love. That’s true for God, for our neighbour, and it’s true for ourselves. And, in love, God will forgive us, hopefully our neighbour will too. And, in love, may we forgive ourselves.
Loving God, help us, by your Spirit, truly to love ourselves and our neighbours.
Set us free from self-preoccupation so that we may find true fulfilment in loving.
Fill us afresh with your love as we offer again the commitment and devotion of our hearts and souls and minds.
God of love, you are love. Love is your being, love is your nature, love is your purpose.
You are the source of all love and we praise you, we worship you, we adore you.
We offer to you all the love of our heart, all of our soul and all of our strength.
We rejoice in the love that you have for us and in the delight that you find in us as we express our love for you.
We are amazed at the love you have for us and thank you from the depths of our being
for the freedom that gives us to enjoy being the people you have made us to be.
As we rejoice in your love for us help us to demonstrate our love
by loving our neighbours as ourselves.
May our love for you be as sincere on Monday morning as it is on Sunday morning.
May our offering of heart, soul and mind be as complete in the home and workplace as it is at church.
May our lives be consistent with the faith that we proclaim.
In all that we do may we please you and care deeply for those amongst whom you have set us,
that in sharing ourselves we may truly share your good news. For the sake of those who are dear to you and dear to us. Amen.
God is love: let heaven adore him;
God is love: let earth rejoice;
let creation sing before him,
and exalt him with one voice.
He who laid the earth’s foundation,
he who spread the heavens above,
he who breathes through all creation,
he is love, eternal love.
God is love: and though with blindness
sin afflicts the souls of men,
God’s eternal loving-kindness
holds and guides them even then.
Sin and death and hell shall never
o’er us final triumph gain;
God is love, so Love for ever
o’er the universe must reign.
May we be filled to overflowing with the love of God,
and may the Lord bless us and keep us
and make his face to shine upon us this day and forever more.