Sermon for September 19, 2021 17 after Pentecost “Love the Lord your God with all your Heart”
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Deut 6:4-5 Is known as the Shema and one of the if not the most sacred text of the Hebrew tradition and one that formed the wisdom of Jesus. It would have been a prayer that was spoken each day or many times each day. The Hebrew life is filled with ceremony, ritual and tradition that has been lost in 21st century Christianity but is still vital for the Jewish people.
If there is no other prayer for you this week, may I suggest that you say with intention, out loud or to yourself each day; I will love the Lord my God with all my heart.
To hear has not lost its impact over the millennia. For the people of Moses day, it was a call to obey, the town criers of old used ‘hear ye, hear ye’ to call the people to pay attention and in our day to hear is to listen with intent and purpose. So when the words ‘Hear O people of God’ are spoken it is a call to pay attention, to listen and to heed.
For Moses, when he said to love the Lord with all your heart it was understood to be with all your knowing, feeling, and willing. That is a powerful and all encompassing way to love God. It meant that there was no part of your day that was separate from God, no thought that God did not hear and no intention that was un-noticed. It was just how the people of God lived and it was not an intrusion…it was a gift.
I am not sure what has happened in the past hundreds of years but it seems more and more that loving God is what Christians do when it is convenient. We call on God as if God is a magic elixir when all our resources are depleted. I know it is harsh to hear especially on a Sunday when we are beginning a four-week celebration of God. It is necessary to hear so that we can reclaim some of the ancient and true meaning of what it is to love God.
We celebrate that God has always been intricately woven into our lives whether we notice or acknowledge God or not. The we, all humans, are created in the image and likeness of God and that image is imprinted right into our DNA. So the psalmist and Gospel writers who penned ‘there is no height nor depth, no width or length, no place we can go or be, physically, mentally or spiritually where God is not’.
When Jesus invites us to follow, it is not from some distant place, it is from within, from our heart. For that is what Jesus is wanting of us…our heart. To love God/Jesus with all our heart, with all our knowing, feeling and willing. Then we can be aware of the light and love that has always surrounded us and celebrate. For there is great celebration when one comes to the belief that Jesus loves them and they turn their heart to Jesus.