Saturday, February 25, 2017

What does "loving your enemies"mean in a time such as this?


Keffiyeh on the altar

As I enter my final, week, yesterday was a classic West Park day…

With a church full of activity, there were two experiences…First, Philip’s mom appeared at the church to tell us of the  death of her son. Philip came as one of our paid singers. He had been  a full time “cover” singer for the Met opera. He had developed a relationship with Ruby Thron, who had come here from 2nd Presbyterian with her friend with Irene (of blessed memory). They wanted a church that was friendly to lgbtq people. He had never been baptized. Had left the pentecostal church if his youth due to their condemning attitudes about lgbtq people. He had   tried the Unitarians but felt they  left “a hole in his soul..” West-Park brought acceptance. And Jesus. He asked to be baptized with Ruby as his godmother. Became a member. Than an elder. Volunteered as a singer. Retired from  the Met. Then became our administrator. Then he for full time work with the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing .He served as manager of the Mikalski AIDS residence, named for a former West Park member. When Ruby needed home health care, he retired to become her full time caretaker. He separated from us for a while during one of our many church fights over the building and our future. But took it on himself to reconcile. He has not been able to come here from way downtown, but we  have been in touch on a weekly basis. He said, “coming to WP was the best the that ever happened to me. It saved my life. And gave me a purpose…”

We hosted visitors from the Waldensian church in Argentina. (Italian protestant) they emphasized that they were an immigrant church, not a mission church. They are our partner church  in Argentina and Uruguay. Mainly rural but now urban. They are trying to figure out what it means to be the church in the city. they have small congregations, 20 or so members. We gathered with friends from Jan Hus and West End. We recognized that coming from different  places, we now meet at the same place. They  were leaders in the marriage equality movement. And against femicide, murder of women as women. An area in which they are way ahead of us. It was a powerful time of sharing.

And we are meeting today on the day of theToday I an a Muslim Too rally…I will be headed there after worship if you’d like to come along…
Today I am a Muslim too

These are moments reflecting what we are…already. That we have meaning behind what we see, influence beyond our numbers.

I begin my reflection of my time with you. And what’s to come. Paul called himself a “skilled master builder” who laid down a solid foundation. I am not a skilled master builder, at least in the classic sense. We have been through several risings and falling in my 22 years. Several lives as a church. For better or worse, despite all predictions, we are still here. No..for better….let’s say it. Clear.

Someone else will have to build upon it. Someone(s) else will build upon it. As it becomes your responsibility,  Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. And I hope that  beyond anything else that  that foundation is Jesus Christ.
Pastor Bob at rally...

What does that mean?
  1. Love your neighbor or as yourself (from Leviticus ,at the very center of the Law, the Holy of holies, so to speak)
  2. Resist not evil
    1. Eye for an eye…never miss that this was a limit to vengeance. How many innocent people have died in the Middle East out of  vengeance for a 9-11 they were not responsible for and continue to suffer for today?
    2. Turning the other cheek..going the extra mile, etc..
      1. Loving your enemies   That’s big…what does that mean? I mean can you love     Donald Trump?  That’s the question you have to be able to answer. How? By praying for him? I remember how hard it was for me, in there Episcopal church worshipped in, to pray for our President Ronald….loving does not imply  accepting behavior we can’t approve…this is indeed a hard one…. 
REMEMBER: you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself         
So….to that end… loving our president means reproving our president…  

And remember:  So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours ….and that applies to pastors as wells presidents

And finally…..                  

you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you….what happens here is now up to you…so…
stay close to one another
study together
worship together
pray for one another
and ACT together



First Reading Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

1The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

9When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God.

11You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. 12And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD.

13You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. 14You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

15You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. 16You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

17You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Psalm 119:33-40

33  Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, 
          and I will observe it to the end. 
34  Give me understanding, 
          that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. 
35  Lead me in the path of your commandments, 
          for I delight in it. 
36  Turn my heart to your decrees, 
          and not to selfish gain. 
37  Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; 
          give me life in your ways. 
38  Confirm to your servant your promise, 
          which is for those who fear you. 
39  Turn away the disgrace that I dread, 
          for your ordinances are good. 
40  See, I have longed for your precepts; 
          in your righteousness give me life.

Second Reading 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23

10According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

16Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, 
     “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 
20and again, 
     “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, 
          that they are futile.” 
21So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all belong to you, 23and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Gospel Matthew 5:38-48

38“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

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