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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday Focus: Love In Action

As he taught, he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets!  They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation." He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." Mark 12:38-42
Once again Jesus shows us that it is not what we do that pleases God, but how and why we do it. He begins this gospel by exposing the clerical phonies who dress up and strut their piety. They had perverted their vocations into an ostentatious ego trip. Their prayer was merely a public performance in praise of themselves. In building the new covenant, Jesus warns us over and over again about the invasive, insidious grip of pride. It is the fountainhead of evil.

Christ carries this theme over into a brief exposition on charity. As he observes the rich folks donating to the temple treasury, their generosity is on full display. They have forgotten, or never learned, that the Creator of the universe has no need of their largesse. God wants our love, not the scraps from our table. Charity is not a public proclamation of our sanctity. It was never meant to be feel-good therapy for the prosperous, to give them an extra little thrill of superiority.

With Christ, everything starts and ends with love. Charity is love in action…nothing more, nothing less. It’s not about deductions or loopholes or write-offs. It is rendering to God the currency he values most…our love. Jesus extolls the donation of the widow who gave the little she had. Hers is not a vain gesture. It is truly a sacrificial offering, a gift from the heart. As such her pittance is blessed. It is noble and bountiful and pleasing to God

Jesus is obviously not afraid to look a gift horse in the mouth. He’s not heaven’s foremost fundraiser obsessed with buttering up the fat cats. In his eyes we are all the beloved children of God. We begin each day with an equal and infinite capacity for love. We are not expected to hoard it or sit on it waiting for a rainy day. We must use it or lose it. Charity is love in action, not love in storage.

As usual C.S. Lewis captures and clearly explains the heart of the lesson: “All our offerings…are like the intrinsically worthless present of a child, which a father values indeed, but values only for the intention.” With God it really is the thought that counts. And to God our innermost thoughts have been an open book since long before time began.

As Christians, charity is not some random generous act that we perform and then get back to our real life. It is not an emotional response to a telethon appeal before we change the channel. Charity is what we do. It defines us. It is why we are here. It takes many forms. And yes it does begin at home. But it doesn’t end there. The metrics of charity are often counted out in time, treasure and talent. But before any of that, there is unmeasured love, the precious commodity we have been given by God to be put to work every single day to glorify him by serving others.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

"Which commandment is the first of all?"  Jesus andwered, "The first is 'Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'  The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  There is no other commandment greater than these."  Mark 12:28

This Sunday's Gospel reading from Mark is familiar - very familiar.  Despite that, I read it again and again this week, the week after Sandy - the hurricane that lived up to all the hype.

Loving my neighbor - caring and aiding and supporting and praying - as myself is a commandment, not an option.  The commandment holds whether I am in good times or bad.

The wake left by Sandy demands that we respond in the many ways we are able - not because we want to, but because we must.

Volunteer, contribute, offer your time or your talent.  Love your neighbor as yourself.

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