Scriptures: Isaiah 40:27-31 Mark 12:28-34 Deut. 6:4-9
LET US PRAY: Holy, still-speaking God ~ open our ears to hear Your holy Word; open our hearts and minds that we may joyfully live out Your message for our lives. Amen.
This morning: I would like to share a wonderful story with you. Actually it’s a midrash. A midrash is the Jewish name for a story about a story in the Bible … a story that helps us put the Bible story into better perspective. My story today is entitled: Partners! (see attached)
IMAGINE if we took being PARTNERS with God … seriously!
IMAGINE! Such a wonderful word. This was actually the theme for the National Youth Event of the United Church of Christ back in early July. It was based on the 43rd chapter of Isaiah, when God told the Israelites in captivity to NOT fear … but to pay attention because God was doing a whole new thing.
For a week, over 2500 youth and adult leaders were invited to IMAGINE how God was inviting US to be partners with Him and IMAGINE a world of Extravagant Welcome ~ IMAGINE a healthy world ~ IMAGINE a world where differences are embraced … IMAGINE one church …
ANDto then IMAGINE how we might make that world a REALITY! Think ~ for just a minute ~ what that might look like!!! BUT: where do we start??!!!
IMAGINE! I believe our Gospel reading gives us a good starting point. Jesus has been answering challenges thrown at Him from some of the scholars in the crowd. And, today we hear a Scribe ~ a person well versed in Scripture ~ throw 1 more question Jesus’ way: OfALLof the commandments, which is the most important??? (he asks). And, Jesus gives the answer that we know so well … You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength … and love your neighbor as yourself.
But there is an interesting twist in the way that Mark records this conversation. In this story, Jesus literally quotes the shema, that is, the law as written in the book of Deuteronomy: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with every ounce of your being.” But then the law raises the stakes a bit, by adding:
“It’s not good enough toJUSTobey this commandment … BUT you must:
- Tell it to your children, every chance you get ~ so that this commandment will be second nature to them
- Bind it as a sign on your hand
- Make it an emblem on your forehead
- Write it on your doorposts so you will see it every time you come home and go out into the world.
IOW: Keep this commandment UP CLOSE and PERSONAL with you … MAKE it a VISIBLE reminder of God’s promise to us to be our One and True God … MAKE it a visible reminder of what God expects in return FROM us.
Now: IMAGINE with me for a minute … how important this would have been for the people then. Moses spoke these words to the children of God who had been wandering in the wilderness for almost 40 years and are now on the brink of entering the land that God had been promising to them. IJMAGINE that you a part of that crowd.
- IMAGINE that you are facing that brave, new world … filled with new experiences, new people … and who knows what else!!!
- IMAGINE how you would feel at that moment … as one of the slaves who left captivity inEgypt40 years ago, filled with words of promise … OR as one of