Hard Love

This sermon can be listened to here


Gate Pa – Year C  4th Sunday after Epiphany 2019,
Readings:
Psalm                          Psalm: 71:1-6
First Reading:             Jeremiah 1:4-10
Second Reading:        1 Cor 13:1-13                         
Gospel:                        Luke 4:21-30
What I want to say:
To explore the theme of love in today's readings

What I want to happen:
People to reflect on who they struggle to love and why

The Sermon

1.        Introduction

Number of themes around today
As said in pew sheet
One is longing
See this in readings just heard
One options for today was celebrate presentation of Jesus in temple
-           Longing of Jesus' parents for their son
-           Also greater longing of people of God for salvation from overlords

2. Love

Another related theme might be  love
Found these cartoons from Naked pastor online
Read out
Just heard Paul's great hymn about love
Heard in so many weddings
Want to make a couple of comments
a.         What disservice people who put chapter divisions into this letter have done to future readers by how they have split up this reading.
Because split off opening line leaving it in chapter 12
Often read as being about the gifts that Paul has just been talking about
They are not greater gifts
Faith hope and love are the greater gifts that we are to strive for
Those other gifts without love
Are nothing
Which is what this cartoon is about really
b. Love here is not feeling
Not really how we would describe love at all
Love is an action
How we live
Offers description of what love must do rather than what love is
To love someone is not about how I feel
As it is about how I live towards them, treat them, love them.
Question might be left with is "who to love?"

3. Luke

Which takes us to the reading from Luke
Second part of our reading from last week
Story of Jesus homecoming sermon
Not going well
Hard reading
Both in terms trying to understand what going on
-           Is Jesus really picking a fight here?
And in terms of what is said.
Starts well
as heard last week
Jesus has touched into some of their deepest longings
Initially the hearers seem impressed
But then they say "is this not Joseph's son?"
Any number of ways to read that
-           Super impressed
-           Bemused
-           A little bit angry
How we understand what happens next depends on which of these we think Luke is using in his telling of the story.
Is easy for us to be a little judgmental of these people of Nazareth
or maybe of Jesus?
Clearly some who were saying/thinking - " just remember where you come from. We are as needy or more needy of God than anyone else
Or maybe they were saying something like - why are you going around helping other people when we have so much need here.
Which is a little like - lets not help those people, like refugees. We have so much need in this country. Lets sort that out first. Then maybe. But us first.

4. Who to Love

Which brings us back to Paul
How to live love as described by Paul is hard enough
But Jesus makes it pretty hard
Living love is not about people like us first
In fact Jesus goes on
Its not even people like us at all.
He tells two stories of the great prophets, Elijah and Elisha
The year of God's favour is not just for Israel
But for all people
The Syrians and all those who have fought them over the centuries
The hated Romans
The beggars begging
Those sleeping in the doorways of shops and at centrepoint
refugees
Non white immigrants
Mexicans
List goes on
They didn't want to hear
That was not the kind of good news they wanted to hear
Truth is not the kind of good news most of us want the hear
The crowd there tried to throw him off a cliff to that they might stone him
How could God love those people
How could they even begin to love those people
Outrageous
It is still outrageous today
Just listen to talk back or read some of the comments or letters to editors
Actually
If we are honest
Just listen to ourselves
Love is hard
Loving God's people is harder still.
How far would we go to silence this kind of nonsense?
-> People to reflect on who they struggle to love and why
 

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