Sermon: July 27, 2008

28 07 2008



Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  ‘This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”



                                                            Matthew 22:37-40


            Last week we began Three Part Series of Sermons on relationships.  Last week we discussed Our Relationship with God based upon the first part of Jesus answer to the Pharisees.  If you remember from last week, one of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “What is the greatest of all the commandments?”  His response was, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  Today we would like to move on and focus on the second part of Jesus’ answer:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”


            Now the first thing that I would like to talk about is the first word that Jesus uses in both statements:  LOVE the Lord your God… — LOVE your neighbor as yourself.  We didn’t talk about this last week, and I would just like to spend a minute talking about it this morning.  If you recall when we talked about the first of the 7 Fruits of the Spirit, we discovered that St. Paul put LOVE first and that the Greek word that he used – the one that he chose out of the more than 11 words that he could have used for love – was the Greek Word – AGAPE.  You might also recall how we said that this word AGAPE means – unconditional love – love with no strings attached – love with now first you do this then I will love you requirements.  It is a love that gives – gives unconditionally – loves unconditionally.  It is the word that the Bible uses every time it talks about the love that God has for us.  God loves us unconditionally.  God loves us with not strings attached.  God loves us with no prerequisites.  God just gives and gives – and gives us His Love.


            Now the reason that I mention all of that again is because that is the word that Jesus uses here when He talks about the way in which we ought to love one another.  We ought to AGAPE one another.  We ought to love one another unconditionally – as God loves us unconditionally.  We ought to love one another with no strings attached – as God loves us with no strings attached.  We ought to love one another with no requirements needed to be met first – as God loves us with no requirements needed to be met first. 



  And I think that that kind of love begins here – first.  In this community – this family that we call Zion – this is where we ought to find that kind of love.  I remember in my first parish – Immanuel Lutheran Church in Oakley, Kansas – I had this wonderful family – a husband and a wife – they had two teenage children – a boy and a girl.  They were the kind of family that were in church every Sunday.  If they weren’t in church, it was because they were either sick or out of town.  Suddenly they began to miss, so I went over to see them.  What I found out was that their teenage daughter had gotten pregnant – and the reason that they had stopped coming was because they were afraid of what the people would say.  I told them that I would hope that the people would gather around with a group hug.  I would hope that the people would gather around with support and prayers.  Fortunately for us at Immanuel – that is what the people did.  They gave their AGAPE to that family.  They even held a baby shower for the family to help them out – raised money for the medical expenses.  They showed AGAPE for one of their own.  They loved their neighbor even as God loves us – unconditionally – no strings attached.


            That is what we ought to find here at Zion.  We ought to love one another.  When one of us is hurting – all of us are hurting.  That is why we helped a couple of our members recently.  When one of our members was involved in a serious car accident and was going to be out of work – we raised moneys to help them out.  When another one of our members had a heart attack and needed help, we were right there.  That’s what we ought to do.  That’s why we have Stephen Ministers and Deacons and Prayer Shawl Ministries – to show our own that we care.


            But let me give you a couple of things that each of us can do right now.  Pray for each other.  And you know there are several ways that we can do that.  You can join us on the First Wednesday of each month at The Parlor Restaurant for our Men’s Prayer Group where we pray for the people of Zion, or you can join us every Thursday at 6:30pm for our Prayer Group where we do the same.  We also have a Prayer Chain where prayers are lifted up every day for members of this church who have needs.  Or if you are not one of those kind of people that like being part of a group – well then take home the bulletin where we list the people that we are going to pray for or listen while we pray and write down the names of the people we pray for here on Sunday and then pray for them every day at home.


            Another thing to do – sign up now to be a part of one of Zion’s Care Group that we are forming in September.  These are group of people – about ten – who will gather together in homes – once a month for fun and fellowship – but also for prayer – study – support – caring – and most of all AGAPING.  This is where real AGAPING will happen.  You know, if you look at the words of Jesus, you will discover that what He says is that the cornerstone of our faith – the cornerstone of our relationship with God – what is the lynchpin for everything is our AGAPE for God and our AGAPE for each other.  Jesus said: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Without these two things – love for God – love for each other – without these two things everything falls apart.  I guess that is good enough of a reason to love each other.







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