Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Second Commandment: "Love one another."

This coming Sunday, the Revised Common Lectionary suggests Chapter 2:8-13 from Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) as the scripture reading; this is the only time in the three-year rotation where this book is preached. The reading is all about love. Church should be filled with love, but many will not preach this passage because it seems, somehow, to be erotic.

I imagine that my sermon will be rather short, not because I don't know how to preach about love, but because I expect my congregation already knows and practices love. This is how they know and practice: While I was gone, this tiny congregation in north central Penna hosted a supper for any person who is hungry for food or fellowship in the (broadly speaking) county. This was our third Sunday supper. In June, perhaps eight people read the ad in the paper, saw the flyers or heard about the supper and joined us to eat. Last month, July, we had about 25 guests; this month (August) more than 60 guests came. Sixty people ate this meal. Sixty people shared this interesting type of communion. Sixty people left with full bellies. Thirty people - just about the whole congregation - rejoiced at the smashing success of our efforts to be Jesus-people in and for our community.

I was on vacation and am so sorry to have missed the enthusiasm and the love of all who participated, from the young guitar player I invited to the oldest couple who came to eat to the college student who was so excited about the idea of actually helping people who needed help that she gave up her Sunday afternoon. (She was on her way back to grad school, but promised to come back to help at Christmas.) Tables were set with real dishes and real tablewear - no plastic for these guests - all were served as they arrived. There was no preaching, no proselytizing, no means test, no donation, no fee. Just nourishment for body and soul.

I cannot say enough for the love this congregation offers. Perhaps this paraphrased prayer helps: "May the work of their hands and the love in their hearts be pleasing to you O Lord." Amen!

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