Sermon for Feb. 3rd, 4th Sun. after Epiphany

 iLet’s see if it happens, or I should say let’s hear if it does. Today during the Super Bowl that many of us will probably tune into, lets see if the law will be followed. Now there’s plenty of laws and rules to football, more than I get, but that’s not what I’m listening for. The law that I’m talking about is the CALM law. If you missed that one, it is a law passed and signed by President Obama in 2010. CALM stands for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation. What that means is that advertisers are not supposed to blast the volume in their tv commercials, a practice that developed because we watchers of tv, do actually from time to time get up and do things most often during the commercials. So, companies would crank up the volume in order to be heard in the kitchen, in the bathroom, wherever we might wander.

To be heard, to really be listened to.
This is something we all want, unfortunately it’s not something that we all get. Listening to one another is too often in short supply. Unfortunately this is not a modern malady. This problem was,going on in the church in Corinth. They were arguing about what it meant to be a Christian, what it should look like to listen to Jesus, what difference it should make in their lives day to day. They were divided about what they should do with spouses and family members who didn’t believe in Jesus? Should they eat meat, when most meat available in the market was leftover meat from the sacrifices to the many other gods. Can believers sue on another? Should the rich be able to eat anything and everything they want when they came together just because the poorer folks couldn’t just get there right away from their jobs? Who was the most important in the church? This was a divided and troubled congregation.
Which means there were probably loud voices on all sides, and as often happens no one was listening. I mean really listening, listening to one another, not just to their points, their arguments, but listen to who they are, and importantly listen to those whose voices are silenced. Now don’t get me wrong, Paul wasn’t afraid to give his opinion on issues, he definitely had a point of view on all sorts of issues. However, St. Paul knew that wasn’t at the heart of the problem. Really, their problem wasn’t right doctrine, right thinking, right faith. They were missing the point. Jesus didn’t come to replace one set of laws with another set of rules. No, their problem was their hearts.
their hearts weren’t really in it. It’s not that they weren’t committed, but they weren’t committed to one another, their hearts weren’t turned to one another. an answer to all their problems, well it’s simple. Something we all could probably say, something we could sum up in one word, can we say it together now?
LOVE
That’s right.
Paul gives u beautiful words, words so often heard at weddings, but words that have their place right here, words that are to be listened to by the church, the family of God. 13If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

For Paul this love was discovered in the God who was so present, so attentive and unavoidable–the God who listens. We don’t have to convince God we are right; we don’t have to impress with big words and the logic of our argument. It is the God who simply loves us, no matter what we say, no matter how we say it, God hears us, really hears us, is patient, whose kindness goes beyond our wildest expectations. For Paul, if that is how God cares for us, treats us, why should we demand so much more. How can we demand perfection? Are those Corinthian Christians, are we more God than God?
For the Apostle Paul, the question we need to be asking not just of others, but really ourselves, is what we are thinking, saying, doing is it loving? Are we paying attention, are we listening, are we genuinely present for and with one another? It’s a simple thing to ask, but if we are honest, not a simple thing to do. That’s why we live the Gospel, we proclaim (we share God’s forgiveness of us and others).
This week, I’m going to give you homework. That’s right. My call is to preach and teach. This week as you are going about your days at work, at home, at the store, with family, listen to yourself, listen for love in your words, listen for love in what and how you are saying, listen for God speaking in your life– listen for God speaking to you and through you. This love has been what has enabled a It is that love that enables an introvert, shy, self-conscious woman who as a kid was so afraid to speak, who still after 20 years of doing this, gets butterflies and sweaty palms to stand up here. Because of God’s love, I am not standing up here in front of you, over than you, somehow better, more spiritually advanced than you. That’s not it at all. I’m with you, as Pastor I am with you, we are all in this together, and what we are in, is God’s Love. So this week, trust me, it won’t feel like it all the time. But the more and more that you pay attention to yourself and others, the more you pay attention to love,you will grow in living it, feeling it, and giving it away. Amen.

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