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Sunday Sermon 25th October - All You Need is Love

The chosen hymns for this week, The Lord's my Shepherd and All I Once Held Dear can be found below along with a transcription of the sermon for those who prefer to read.

All you need is love

Matthew 22:34-40


Welcome to our time of reflection for Sunday for 25th October.

I don’t know about you but when I was young we had family arguments.

And like most family arguments they would go on and on and repeat the same moans and groans and complaints; until it got to the stage when dad was say, ‘Enough.’

And then he would come out with a statement and that would be the end of the argument.

My dad was ok with us as a family arguing, it got out all the anger and frustration and allowed us to say our piece and learn to say our piece. But at some point the arguments become pointless and we need to live life and get on with each other.

If you read the Gospels I think Jesus worked that way. He respected and allowed people to say their piece. The Scribes the Pharisees, the Sadducees even ordinary people; he allowed them to put their point of view, how they saw the world, how they saw God, and then he opened up the ideas of how they could change those ideas...but at this point I think Jesus says, ‘ENOUGH. This is the way of it; this is where the agreement stops. This is the crux of all truth, you either accept that or you walk away.’

Kay is going to read out his important passage to us and also lead us in prayer.

Kay: Reading Matthew 22: 34-40


I remember hearing a very clever speaker say something like, ’The problem is not that we don’t know that the most important thing is the most important thing. The problem is that we forget to make the most important thing the most important thing.’

Jesus puts the most important thing into three parts.

Love God, love others, love ourselves.

The problem we have is not that we don’t know this, the problem we have is that we don’t live it.

We don’t love God.

We are suspicious of God, scared of what he wants from us.

Think of it like this. We like the idea of an all powerful God, as long as that God is directing his entire gaze on other people until we need him.

I have a son in law called Duncan who is a policeman.

If my neighbours the Stein’s were having a rowdy party that was stopping me from sleeping at night I like the idea I can phone Duncan and get him to sort them out.

My neighbours should be good neighbours and it they are not willing to be good neighbours then we will make them be good neighbours.

If the son-of-my-neighbours the Mort’s drove his car in such a way that it scrapped my car and he drove off. I like the idea that I can phone Duncan and the full weight of the law will land on that delinquent son-of-my-neighbour. He has broken the law and he deserves to pay.

My neighbours should be good neighbours and it they are not willing to be good neighbours then we will make them be good neighbours.

But let’s say I have all my family over for lunch and decided to burn some stuff out the back, and I have a tyre that I don’t want to have to go to the council site to get rid of, so I just chuck it on the flames and there is black poisonous smoke going all over the place. If Duncan comes up to me and says, ‘That is illegal You’re causing a danger to your neighbours.’ I would be furious. How could you do that to me? This is the first time I have done anything wrong. I would be turning to Iona and saying, ‘Sort out that husband of yours. Doesn’t he know what it means to be loyal to family?’

We are kind of like that with God. God is wonderful to have in case of emergencies, but don’t; interfere with our lives. I don’t know how that sounds to you, but to me that doesn’t sound like love.

We don’t love our neighbour.

If you look up this passage in the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus talks on this passage on love the people still try to argue with him. ‘But who is this neighbour that I should love?’

And Jesus replies with the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The sad thing over the years I that I have heard this parable rewritten and rewritten over the years and each time the Samaritan changes.

When I was young is the Samaritan was Punk rockers.

Then it became Muslims, then it became refugees; then it becomes people who were gay, or transsexual, you know the list goes on and on. But that list is specific. That list is whoever we think we can ignore or hate just because they are what or who they are.

Who do we put in that box where they are ignored or even hated just for being who they are?

You hear it in the blame game with Covid.

It’s those youngsters causing the rates to spike again.

It’s those refugees coming over from France illegally and bringing the disease with them.

It’s those folks that go down to the pub and don’t social distance.

In South Korea it was those Christians that met in those mega-churches just before lockdown and infected each other with their singing and then spread the disease throughout their neighbourhoods.

When we are quick to blame others for things, slow to help others when they are in need...that doesn’t sound like love.

We don’t love ourselves.

We have a terrible knack of comparing our worst with others best, seeing that we don’t compare well and then giving up on ourselves.

If lockdown has taught us anything it has taught is that we struggle to live with ourselves. The general mental health of the country has gone down the tubes. The suicide rates since March have rocketed.

I was talking to the staff at the crematorium before a funeral I was taking and asking them about how many funerals they had had due to covid. And they said that they hadn’t had that many, but the number of suicides they had had was horrendous.

People buy stuff to make them happy then feel guilty about the stuff they buy.

People have plastic surgery, one of the greatest grow areas in the economy is plastic surgery because people are not happy with various parts of their body.

People lie in CV’s to get jobs because they think they are not good enough.

They lie in dating suites because they feel they are not a big enough catch.

How can we claim that we love ourselves if we are so uncomfortable about ourselves?

The Bible says that the truth will set us free.

The lie that enslaves us is that we are not good enough to be loved.

That if we can become good enough, worthy enough, then we will deserve to be loved and then we will be loved.

It is a lie; we can never be good enough to be loved. And even if we were good enough that isn’t any guarantee that we would be.

But we chase the lie anyway.

And that lie gets us in a mess.

We know we can’t be good enough so we pretend to be good enough in the hope that someone will love us, but then that person if they do love us doesn’t love us but the lie about us that we have created. And we know that they don’t love us but the lie of us that we have created, so we don’t feel the benefit of being loved. We feel instead that we have to keep up the lie because if they saw us for who we were then they wouldn’t love us.

The most dangerous lie is that only if I am worthy that I can be loved.

If I truly believe that then I have to strive to be the best to be worthy.

I have to be the best minister, the best husband, the best father, the best grandfather, the best friend.

I am then in competition with every other minster or husband or father or grandfather or friend. If I don’t match up to them then I am not worthy and undeserving. And how do we compare ourselves with others? How would we compare, say husbands, with other husbands? How much time they spend with their wives or their children? How much money they spend on their wives or children? How much time they work getting the money so that they can afford those holidays or presents they spend on their wives?

And the more you try the further you get from true love because it is all based on fear, not love.

I remember meeting up with a man who was going through a divorce and he said she was leaving him because he was never at home, he was working all the hours God gave him so that they could get a better house and a go on better holidays and he could give her a better lifestyle. When he was talking with me he was truly lost, he couldn’t understand why she was leaving him because he did it all for her.

Can you imagine how exhausting all that effort is to try to be worthy of love?

Probably, because you’ve probably lived that life.

I love Jessica my 3 year old granddaughter because she thinks I’m perfect. And that’s fine when she is 3; but one day that has to change or she will be totally disillusioned with who I am.

I love Roseanna my wife because she knows I’m not perfect and she still loves me.

Roseanna’s love is more freeing, because it isn’t pretend, it isn’t based on illusion.

Roseanna’s love is more freeing because it gives me freedom to try to be better, and fail, and to try again.

That’s why we need God’s love.

God love is an acceptance of who we were in the past with all the mistakes that we made, who we are with all the struggles we are coping with, and who we could be in the future. God’s love is not based on some standard we must reach, of passing or failing.

God’s love is the love of the journey we are on and the sharing of that journey with all its ups and downs and wanderings.

It is based on the insights of a truly compassionate and forgiving God.

With that insight in how God loves me, I can see that God would love others in the same way, so I can accept them as they are as God accepts me.

And that’s a two way thing; if we cannot see why God would love others, then we will never understand why God would love us.

If we truly believe that God loves others with all their flaws and faults, then there is no reason to doubt that God would love us with all our flaws and doubts.

Love God, love others, love ourselves.

Each is a gift to give and to receive.

Without that gift of love we are just rats on a treadmill trying to get somewhere and spending a lot of effort going nowhere fast.

With that gift we are on an amazing journey of discovery, always finding out more about God, about others, and about ourselves.

Let us pray

Heavenly Father,

Without love all we have is fear.

Fear of the punishment you may want to put on us.

Fear that we are not worthy.

Fear of the stranger and the unknown.

Fear of ourselves and what we have failed to achieve, how we have let ourselves and others down.

Without love there is fear.

Fear of the past and how it is holding us back like a millstone round our neck weighing us down.

Fear of the present and whether we can cope or not.

Fear of the future and the uncertainty it brings with it.

Remind us of a moment; a moment when we felt your presence close to us.

Because that moment is eternity.

If in that moment we believed you accepted us as we are, then we know that in every moment you accept us as we are.

Because in that moment we were loved, we could never have been perfect, yet we were loved.

So very moment we are imperfect is a moment that you love us, seek the best for us, long to journey with us.

With that truth may we see others in the same light.

May we see others through your eyes, see that they are loved in their imperfection, see that they are loved as they travel this difficult path through life.

As we begin to rejoice as you walk with them, as we rejoice as we see that you travel with us, may we then have the excitement of seeing that we can walk with you; travelling where you lead, following your guidance, relying on your strength.

This we ask in Jesus name


Before we go I would just like to remind you that if you want to be part of our live services then you can book a place for our 10.30am and 3pm Sunday services by phoning me at 01259 760262 between 6-9pm Monday to Friday.

A blessing

Remembering God’s faithfulness and love...accept his embrace,

Your name is written in his heart, engraved on his hands; know that he holds you and protects you throughout lives journey.


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