Sermons 2006
"God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Proper 23B 2006 Mark 10:17-31
The transforming power of God’s love in our lives.

The Beatles song “All You Need is Love” is one of the most enduring anthems of the ‘60s generation. Even if you are not a Beatles fan, you probably have heard it on the radio, in commercials, or even at the movies. Last time I heard it, I noticed for the first time the song really just has that one line—“All you need is love”—sung over and over and over again
But when it comes to offering reflections on love, it’s probably better to look to ancient Athens and not Liverpool, England.

In the Greek world of Jesus’ time they had four different words they used to describe the varieties of love they saw in the world around them: Storge, or affection, that is best described as the love between parents and their offspring. Philia, the love between two friends, brotherly love. And eros, or erotic love, that is used to describe the feelings of two people who are in romantic love and desire each other sexually.

And, finally, there is what the Greeks called agape, translated in the old King James Version of the Bible as charity, the type of love that is freely given but does not necessarily expect anything in return. Agape is self sacrificing love. This is the kind of love that Paul describes in his First Letter to the Corinthians in the 13th chapter when he says love is patient and love is kind. And concludes, “And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and th greatest of these is love.”

It is interesting that the ancient Greeks actually didn’t think much of this type of love. They thought love was not worth having unless you got something out of it. And because agape is freely given to others, it does not by its nature involve the obligations of parenthood, marriage, or friendship. The power this kind of love has is a Christian construct, directly from Jesus Christ himself. It was given to humanity through God’s gift of God’s self in Jesus: For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

We still struggle to understand this kind of self-giving love. And people who encounter Jesus time and time again in the Gospels want to insist that God's love is something that must be earned. Today's lesson from Mark's Gospel tells the well known story of a man who asks Jesus the question, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" This story of Jesus' encounter with the man is found in three out of the four gospels, and each gospel writer reports the story in much the same way. This unnamed person approaches Jesus and asks him what he needs to do to live forever. How does he go about earning God's love as salvation for his soul?

Jesus briefly reviews the Ten Commandments with the man: do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother. And the man tells Jesus that he has observed all these since his youth. He has, he thinks, done all that he can to earn God's love.

But Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing. Go, sell what you have, give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow me. Saint Mark tells us that when the man heard this he grew sad, and he went away because he had lots of possessions. How sad Jesus must have been, for he loved him.

We who call ourselves Christians believe that God's love was freely given through the life, the death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And that we are called as Christians to share God's unconditional love with all other people.

And Jesus loved this unnamed and unknown man, even if our Lord told him things about himself that he did not want to hear.

In our world today, Christians expend much too much energy fighting about whom God chooses to love. God does not limit or place conditions on his love. And God is not about to let his human creatures limit it for him. And in our search for a closer relationship with our Creator, we must recognize that at the heart of the Gospel is the clear and resounding message that God's love is made available to all of us no matter who we are. (1)

This kind of agape unlimited, unconditional, self-sacrificing sort of love that we are called to share is not easy. Jesus never promised it would be. But there are hints of what it could look like.

US News reported that a sign over the blackboard of West Nickel Mines Amish School read: "Visitors Brighten People's Days." But last week evil in the guise of a neighbor came to visit. The Amish devote themselves sedulously to avoiding the perils of the modern world, but in the peaceful Pennsylvania countryside on a faultless, sunny morning, peril found them all the same.
Much has been said about the apparent parallels with other school shootings-From Columbine to a murder at a Colorado high school five days earlier. But the tragedy in tiny Nickel Mines was singular for the grace and charity with which the families of the victims, and their friends and neighbors, responded to their loss. Repeatedly, even insistently, they spoke of the need to forgive.

As the horse-drawn Amish funeral wagons eased past the endless stream of inevitable news vans, the men and women in their simple homespun shunned the media spotlight but embraced the family of the killer. When they began organizing a charity fund for the victims' loved ones, they included Roberts's family as recipients. When a TV reporter asked the grandfather of two of the girls who died whether he had forgiven the killer he said, "In my heart, yes. Through God's help."

With unselfconscious grace, the Amish men and women of Nickel Mines went about the grim business of burying their dead children. God alone could understand such tragedies, they said, and it was not for them to pass judgment on a world fallen but not beyond redemption. The spasm of violence may have shaken their world, but it appeared to have done nothing to have shaken their faith, for God, as the Bible teaches, promises comfort to those who mourn.

Agape, the very transforming love of God in action.


1. Adapted from “Matthew and Luke Got It Wrong" by The Rev. John McCard, Rector of St. Martin in the Fields, Atlanta, GA. On for October 15, 2006
2. “Eyeing the Unspeakable, and Forgiving”, by Will Sullivan,, Posted Sunday, October 8, 2006. (Also in 16 Oct 2006 print edition, p. 11)

Wicomico Parish Church
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Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579