Sermon – Sunday, February 24th, 2019
Luke 6:27-38 Sermon Rev. Deacon Tanis Kolisnyk
Feb 24th 2019 Year C Epiphany
6:27 "But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
6:29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
6:30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.
6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
6:32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
6:33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
6:34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
6:35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;
6:38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Our Rock our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.
Today’s Gospel is part of the Sermon on the Mount: Jesus is inviting those gathered to listen and discern.
The life of Jesus’ disciples would not be easy in the days ahead. They would be rejected, despised, frightened, bewildered and heart broken. So Jesus delivers these words with a message about “loving their enemies.” He tells them to embrace a new way of responding to persecution, to be different than society’s norms. At that time retribution was the common response when someone hurt you, abused you, or did anything to you that was unjust, “an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”
Jesus presented a new standard, a non-violent, positive approach to any form of hostility.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.”
- In order to understand what Jesus is saying to us, we have to put aside our prejudices and assumptions and really listen to what he is saying.
- This passage, in particular, is one where we are likely to react emotionally.
- Payback was and is still the norm.
To love – to choose love, prevents us from acting out of our own self-interest. Jesus is not at all asking us to do something “unnatural”. He is asking us to choose love.
- We do not naturally want to hate or be hated.
- We want to love and to be loved.
Just the other week, I saw a video on my I-phone of a domesticated Coyote playing with his friend a house cat. They were not following their normal tendencies to hide or run-a-way, swipe at each other or in the coyote’s case, eat the cat. They were choosing to be like the lion with the lamb but in their case playing with each other with delight.
- They were not following normal tendencies. They broke the cycle and embraced friendship.
- The only way to break a cycle of retaliation is to follow Jesus’ advice – embrace a new way Jesus tells us.
- Hating, judging, holding on to assumptions, prejudice – we know that as individuals, we see this in our own backyards.
- It is always a challenge to loosen our assumptions, to risk the journey towards reconciliation and truth telling. Easy – no, Scarey – yes, Are we alone? – No.
- This is a task all of us together continue to choose to embrace, in this Anglican church of ours, breaking ugly cycles, with God’s help. Choosing to heal as the body of Christ – choosing to love, choosing relationship. Choosing community not individualism.
Being willing to give whatever it takes not to harm others, but to do good to them. This is what I hear in Jesus’ words to us this morning.
- It means that we try to live by a higher standard, one that leads us to a new and different world which transcends the one in which we live.
- Later in Luke 6; 37-38 we hear again a teaching against the kind of stereotyping that is a kind of judging - labelling others.
- Do not remove another person’s humanity,
- do not relieve your moral obligation to treat each other as you would like to be treated.
- Take care not to distance ourselves from each other.
Instead, Jesus calls us to agape. ( to love) To totally desire the well-being of all others - Expecting nothing in return.
Sometimes I think we can remember scripture best by seeing an example:
Jesus is instructing us to give more than is needed. To Be generous.
Let’s see what we can learn about this word – generosity.
Imagine that you and your friend were given a piece of candy. You take the candy bar, unwrap it, and break it into two pieces. Oops, one piece is much larger than the other. Which piece do you give to your friend?
If you choose to give your friend the larger piece you are a generous person.
You know about generosity. We could say that generosity is when you give something to another person without expecting to receive anything in return.
The people of St. Philip’s have been generous in many ways. In our Old Testament and New Testament readings today, we hear reference to Generations. From Generation to Generation within this parish church and in the community. Over 100 years, generosity has been a key part of the ministry that has happened here.
- Some people are generous with their time. They offer to help others even though they may be tired and busy.
- Some people are generous with their talents. These people, who may be singers, builders, writers- communicators, caregivers, gardeners, teachers, dishwashers, food preparers, they all offer their special gifts to others.
- Some people are generous with their possessions and money. Even though they may not be rich they share what they have to help others.
- Have you ever thought about how some people are generous with love? They find ways to make those around them feel special. They choose to care and love each other even in the midst of change. Because I am here early on Sundays, I often get to view kindness moment here at St. Philip’s. Our Fahara kids love Pat and often bring her books, colouring pictures, spend time with her before the service. That is generosity – so beautiful. They put in the work to remain in relationship with each other.
The Bible gives us a definition of generosity. Jesus said, “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you. For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you” (6:38).
A good measure is an amount given that is more than enough.
It is like filling someone’s popcorn bowl until the popcorn spills over the top.
We have done this with our -time, -talents,- money, -and love. We have much to celebrate here at St. Philip’s from generation to generation.
Being Generous takes many forms, all are important, all build up the body of Christ which is much bigger than we can imagine.
Today as we gather together, I think it is important for us to celebrate the generosity and love of Christ shared here, not only today in this moment, but also for us to celebrate our history as Anglicans in this place. We are part of a larger family (the body of Christ). We want to thank you God for the love and faithfulness of people from generation to generation. We want to remain faithful to God’s call to serve each other.
In this parish of St. Philip’s we celebrate our past together with you God, our present together with you God, and we ask you Jesus to be with us as we continue to discern next steps together with you God.
As we enter into our AGM, I want all of us think of what this collective prayer is saying to us today: Let me pray this slowly – think about this now and at the end of the service today.
Glory to God : whose power working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation, in the church and in Christ Jesus, forever and ever. Amen.