From the Rev. Spencer W. Brown
When Lucas and I were dating, I remember exactly when I wanted to use that word that carries so much weight…and baggage. This one word changes how we live together, how we relate to one another, and how we engage with the world, around us.
It’s easy to imagine this word coming up in casual conversation, batted around, and abused even. This one word is what we’re called to do in the world, right? Love. Love is what we’re called to act upon. Simple, right?
It’s never really that easy, though. In our Gospel lesson this Sunday, we hear Jesus respond to the Lawyer with the Shema and a quote from Leviticus. He rightly shuts down any more conversation with the authorities by answering in a way that is completely irrefutable. There were no conditions, addendums, or anything else in his statement. We are to love the Lord our God and love our neighbor as ourselves.
This simple word is used to describe the very essence of God in the world. It’s not wrong to do so. However, this little word has been overused and abused. The love of God becomes qualified based on what we believe, who we are, how we live, and so many other distinctions. These distinctions are what we are called to love. We are called to love the differences and diversity of creation.
So how do we reclaim “love” as something deeply meaningful and life-changing? We look at the implicit and explicit meaning of love in Jesus’ response to the Lawyer. Jesus reminds us of the instruction to love the Lord our God with all our being (we’ll get to this in a second). The possibly more difficult commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. This implies that we are to love ourselves as radically as God loves us. We are not to love ourselves or anyone else based on our own terms. We are to love ourselves and love our neighs just as we are, faults and all. We are to love and celebrate diversity. We love our enemies. We love radically, just as God love us and all creation.
To love the Lord our God is to commit fully to a life serving God. This isn’t simply in worship. We commit to praise God by seeking justice, equity, and peace for the created image of God in the world. We commit to serving creation in every way we can. We commit to God and to one another to love.
It’s as though the lectionary knew we would be in our stewardship time. We pledge to the Cathedral, and through our pledges we commit to the ministries of the Cathedral. We pledge to the commitment of love. This is how we reclaim love. We pledge through our time, our talent, our treasure, and our prayers to commit in love to seeking justice, equity, and peace for all creation.
Thanks be to God.