Weekly Sermon Review from Mal Underwood for September 8th
To be clear, on this thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost Mo. Mary was not preaching about football rankings. Instead, her message was focused on the Cross, its meaning for us, and God’s infinite love for his children we are to share with the world. She shared a reflection from Erwin Raphael McManus of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles who said the Cross is at the intersection of love and transformation. It is the eternal reminder of the two greatest commandments to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our Creator loves us so much he sent his only son to die a tortuous death on that cross so that we might be redeemed of our sins and reconciled to Him. Jesus teaches that we are to take up our cross and follow him in Godly agape love if we are to gain salvation and eternal life with our Father in heaven. When we reflect on our life and all it involves, we are to act through the prism of Jesus’ love in all we do. Our lives and the lives of those we touch are transformed by our living into the greatest gift of all, Jesus’ life on earth and death on the cross to save our souls.
To give us a beautiful, heart-wrenching example of living God’s love, Mo. Mary quoted the Ravensbruck Prayer found near the body of a child in that concentration camp:
O Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill
but also those of evil will.
But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us;
remember the fruits we have borne thanks to this suffering –
our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity,
the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this;
and when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.
Mo. Mary concluded by asking a series of questions to which she asked for the response of “With God’s help I am able”:
· Are you able to make Jesus #1 in your life?
· Are you able to pick up your cross?
· Are you able to identify yourself as a Christ-follower above all other identities?
· Are you able to commit to life-giving activities only?
· Are you able to commit to the difficult life of courage, patience, strength, and perseverance?
· Are you able to bring beauty out of ugly?
Jesus commands us to put him and his love first in all we do. There can be no question as to who is #1.