Brad’s Foote-Notes 4th November 2012
Love, Love, Love
Welcome to Ashmore Uniting Church where we seek to express our Christian faith through the vision of being a loving church, focused on the Gospel of Christ: by
- Reaching out
- Meeting needs
- Equipping people for service
We have a motto that says: “reaching our, changing lives”
Last week we were encouraged by the theme:- Take Heart. Our gospel focus was from Mark 10:46-52 where blind Bartimaeus refuses to let Jesus pass him by without calling out for a hearing. Over the din of the crowd, Jesus hears Bartimaeus’s voice and calls him to come to him. Jesus then asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want?” “I want to see” says Bartimaeus. His faith is rewarded by receiving his sight, but more than that, Bartimaeus follows Jesus along the road….. (Mark 10:52). The road that Jesus is on is one that in Mark Chapter 11 leads to his crucifixion. It appears that Bartimaeus is willing to also take that road. Today as we gather around the communion table we are reminded about that same road and the extent of LOVE that God has for the world in the death and resurrection of Jesus. So Take Heart, and embrace the life of discipleship that God has called us to follow.
Today we are digging deeper into the Gospel of Mark as the rubber hits the road in Mark 12:28-34. Discipleship and the Way of Jesus are not words and platitudes or religious ideology. For Christianity, the instruction to love God and others grows out of the relationship between God and ancient Israel. Jesus when confronted by the question about ‘the greatest commandment’ quotes the Shema, a Hebrew “creed” from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. This statement of God, being one, and the commandment for us to love God, was considered central to Judaism. Jesus also quotes Leviticus 19:18 about how we will love our neighbours. It is intriguing that he does not include verse 17 which suggests that this love can be confined only to our own community; by leaving this verse out, Jesus suggests that love for neighbor includes everyone – indeed, all of creation.
Beyond that, Jesus reminds us of the need to love ourselves. We can interpret “love your neighbor as yourself” to mean “as much as” but a closer translation is more “in the same way as.” It’s very important to find a good balance about this notion of loving ourselves as well as others. We all probably need to search our hearts to know how to apply that word to our own lives. Suffice to say that an analogy might help with this explanation.
Whenever you fly in an aircraft you hear the instructions regarding the oxygen masks, and the specific words “if you are traveling with someone who needs assistance, attach your mask first before assisting others”. The point is clear: if I do not take care of myself, I cannot love others.
Perhaps the stronger image is to imagine the words “God, self, others” as words on separate pieces of a mobile, held in balance and tension. Jesus, in the way he gives these commandments, implies that none is more or less important than the other – to live a life of faith we need to keep these important aspects of our life in balance. When we do we may hear Christ say to us, “you are not far from the reign/kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34)
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it count as you live into the reign/kingdom of God.
I look forward to sharing our final Vision and Values Workshop next Sunday from 10.30 to midday. Please complete a “Ashmore Uniting Church – Action Plan to achieve our Faith Goals” survey before leaving today. We will be using the collated data for next week’s workshop.
May Love, Love, Love …. be your experience this week. Rev Brad Foote