SERMONS

This is a radical message from Jesus to us on this Reformation Sunday: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Or to quote Jesus’ fuller response to the Pharisees question of which commandment was the greatest; to quote Jesus’ fuller response, which is actually itself a quote from the book of Leviticus and a quote from the Book of Deuteronomy: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Oh, that Jesus is a crafty One. That Jesus is a bold One. That Jesus - our Jesus - will not be trapped and confined by the ways of the world and corrupt ruling powers, but instead cuts through the murk and the muck of this world in order to point us towards a life of faith that is, as the apostle Paul wrote in First Corinthians, “a still more excellent way.”

It can be challenging to get the core principles of the Christian message out to the world these days. There seem to be a lot of people seated at the banquet and calling themselves Christians, but they don’t have any wedding robes on!

What do the feeding ministries of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan – helping to feed over 500 families weekly – and Redeemer Lutheran Church in New Paltz – gathering food to support the outreach work of FAMILY of New Paltz – who saw the number of people accessing their food pantry rise to over 250 as the pandemic hit, and the New Paltz Student Christian Center and its food pantry – providing remote access to its nutritious sustenance for students experiencing more financial struggles than ever, working ecumenically to try and create even more ways to provide even more access to needed resources; what do these ministries have in common?

What the world needs now is strong, courageous, and potent reminders of what true and real love looks like.

We need to tell the stories of people like Malala Yousafzai, the women who from a young age courageously campaigned for equal education for girls in Pakistan. She was shot by the Taliban at just 15 in an attempt to silence her, but she miraculously survived the attack and at just 17, became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace prize. More importantly, Yousafzi never let the attack deter her courageous work and continues to use her now global platform to advocate for girls’ education.