Letting Love Be Known, November 3

Letting Love Be Known

Habbakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-31

The Rev. Catherine E. Schuyler

Catskill United Methodist Church; November 3, 2019; All Saints Sunday

 

I loved Don Mullen. He was my mentor, a source of wisdom on loving churches and loving God, and a model for me for loving everyone you meet, really, everyone. His was a gentle spirit with a side order of humor. I know his heart and soul are with God, part of that great cloud of witnesses, encouraging me, encouraging us onward toward the kingdom.

 

Edith Van Dyke loved kids at the Catskill schools for years; Fan Roberts played organ for Simpson Memorial UMC for over 50 years. Lisa Hutchinson loved the outdoors and went deer hunting at age 84 and 85. Peter Sneve was the friendliest guy in town and decorated the bushes around his church with huge gaudy red Christmas bulbs for years, ignoring regular hints that the lights were not actually beautiful. Eric Wallace and Michael Rios were too young to die, with lives of potential and good work still ahead of them. John Feagin was a top-notch doctor who did ground-breaking work in orthopedics and offered gracious hospitality to visiting cousins. And none of these snapshot definitions comes anywhere near close enough to properly naming the wonder and mystery and excellence and love that was each of the people we remember today. We can proclaim and be sure that each of these people has joined that great cloud of witnesses surrounding the throne of God in love and joy. The love of Christ which bound us to them in life is still just as powerful in holding us together through death.

 

Make the vision clear, says the prophet Habakkuk. If you’re going to make the effort to live and proclaim the word of God, do it well, effectively, so others can see it. I get that. I just came home last night from a workshop with the New York Conference, which was mostly excellent. But they wrote too small on the poster board, so I spent too much of my time squinting hard and guessing what had been written down. Habakkuk knew of that dilemma; write it big, he says. So that a runner on the way through town can see it and read it. The word that Habakkuk wants to share is a word of hope, a word that God has not forgotten the people, that there is a vision of life beyond violence and bloodshed and lives cut too short. The vision that we are given, that we proclaim largely, so that all may see, is a vision of love. Love for God, love for one another, love even for our enemies, blessings for those who hate us, prayer for those who persecute us. That love is what we’re called to in these beautiful words of Jesus to the crowds, but it’s also the love we live, the love we witness to as we remember our dear friends with candles and names. Because whether we knew them dearly for decades, or only in passing or through stories from other people, we honor them in love. And we trust that they are still a part of the love in which we live and move and have our being. I’m not suggesting that we alter our memories of these dear ones to say that they excelled in loving their enemies. I don’t know that. I will say that we know of the possibility of a love so deep that we could imagine even loving our enemies because we have loved. We have loved these whom we name today. We have loved others who have died before this year. We have loved here and now, and yesterday and tomorrow. We know the depth and power of love shared with us. And because we know the power of love, we understand how the gospel can make the absurd claim that love is the answer to all the problems that present themselves to us.

 

Write the message clear, so that runners can see it on their way through the busyness and hubbub of life. That’s us, my friends. We are that message. We are the billboards of love for the world to see; we are the message of grace and forgiveness that God is counting on to get the message of the gospel across to the world. Today we remember that we aren’t in this billboard business alone, that there are those who have loved who have gone before, and there are those who will remember us and draw from our love in years ahead. The great cloud of witnesses watches us in deep love, knowing our flaws and our fears, encouraging us to stand tall, so that the runners off to find success and fame and more money might notice. Love is the way to life, not any of these. This is the message we have to offer.

 

Come to the table of love.

 

 

 

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

1The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw. 2O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? 3Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. 4So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous— therefore judgment comes forth perverted. …

2I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. 2Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. 3For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. 4Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.

 

Psalm 149

Praise the Lord!

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful.

Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.

Let them praise his name with dancing,

making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;

he adorns the humble with victory.

Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches.

Let the high praises of God be in their throats

and two-edged swords in their hands,

to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples,

to bind their kings with fetters and their nobles with chains of iron,

to execute on them the judgment decreed.

This is glory for all his faithful ones. Praise the Lord!

 

Ephesians 1:11-23

11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

15I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

 

Luke 6:20-31

20Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

27“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.