Our Way of Love sermon series continued on Sunday with a focus on the practice of “Going.” We started with “Turn” several weeks ago, and have also spent time exploring how to Learn, Pray, Worship, and Bless. This week’s readings centered on Jesus’s teaching to love your enemies, and do good toward them. Rev. Jonathan wrestled with what he described as a radical and challenging instruction:
“Dr. Martin Luther King called this change, the “Beloved Community.” Dr. King was someone who knew something about turning the other cheek, in a way that many of us will never have to know or understand - thanks be to God. This way of becoming the Beloved Community is the way of being reconciled to others. But turning the other cheek is not allowing ourselves to be beaten down, it is allowing ourselves to be seen for who we really are - for our enemy, for our abuser, to see our true identify, to see our true face.
And in this language, Jesus and Paul would say that an enemy is one who is to be loved. This is a radical and challenging way of thinking. It’s not one that I’ve mastered or figured out. I’m very quick to make someone my enemy. It’s very easy to do. We live in a very divisive world… it’s easy to create all sorts of enemies, even when there maybe isn’t one. But Jesus says this really radical thing. He says love your enemies... And what Jesus is calling us to is a world and a life and society in which there are no enemies. There are no more people who have and people that don’t have. There is no more asking for coats because we’ve all been stripped of everything and have gotten to the place where we can all see each other for who we really are, and that is as beloved children.
The word “Adam” that Paul references is, of course, a reference to the story of Adam and Eve. But it’s a Hebrew word, adam, it means “earth.” So Adam is literally “earthling,” that’s what it means. Now the Greek language gets a little tricky, so Adam becomes a literal person and earth is a different word. But we’re all supposed to be at this level together of all of being earthlings, caring for one another, loving one another, being in community with one another.
So when we “go” into the world, we are going with a sense of purpose, a sense of urgency, a sense of identity that is shaped at this table, when we receive the body of blood of Christ and we become one with Christ and with one another again. Jesus sends us beyond our circles of comfort to witness to the love and justice and truth of God, with our lips and with our lives. We go to listen with humility and join God in healing a hurting world. We go to become the Beloved Community, a people reconciled in love with God and one with one another. We go to create a world in which there are no enemies, only people that we can love and that can love us back.”
Readings: Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Psalm 37:1-12, 41-42; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38,42-50; Luke 6:27-38.