Sunday, February 16 2020
"The great malady of our time, implicated in all of our troubles and affecting us individually and socially, is 'loss of soul.' When soul is neglected, it doesn't just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning... The emotional complaints of our time, complaints we therapists hear every day in our practice include, emptiness, meaninglessness, vague depression, disillusionment about marriage, and family, relationship, a loss of values, yearning for personal fulfillment... All of these symptoms reflect a loss of soul and let us know what the soul craves." (Thomas More).
There is no doubt in my mind that our nation suffers from a loss of soul. David Brooks describes the problem as, “The foundational layer of American society — the network of relationships and commitments and trust that the state and the market and everything else relies upon — is failing,” he writes. “And the results are as bloody as any war.” The consequences of our rampant individualism — tribalism and social isolation reflected in an epidemic of suicide, addiction and despair — have reached crisis proportions, he writes. But personal renewal, second-mountain-style, can do more than save our souls. It can rescue us from societal collapse.” This second mountain or recovery of soul can be achieved if we allow the Gospel to change our thoughts and actions. Jesus says that our righteousness has to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees or you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. As we grow older, we realize that there is more to life than money, success, and recognition. We realize that relationships are the most important thing to revive our soul. Many of us have created barriers to loving our neighbor. We don’t like their politics, the color of their skin, or where they come from.
Today’s lessons ask us to love God and our neighbor. We are promised abundant life, the second mountain, the Kingdom of Heaven or whatever you call the feeling of deep contentment, relationship and joy. We must turn from the tribalism and individualism in this nation that are destroying our soul. St. John’s offers an opportunity to shine our light to the community of Huntington as we have for the past 275 years. Lots of people will hear our story and visit us during our 275th Anniversary celebration this year. I ask you to deepen your relationship with Christ and one another. Love those in need by volunteering for our Thrift Shop, Laundry Love, HIHI homeless ministry, or any of our many ECW activities. Treat one another with respect and dignity and welcome the stranger with radical hospitality. Teach our children that church still matters by attending regularly. Fill the church with your prayers, praise, and worship.
In today’s Old Testament reading, Moses is talking to the people of Israel as they prepare to enter the Promised Land after forty years of struggling in the desert and leaving their captivity in Egypt. The People of Israel have sinned or turned from God again and again. Moses tells them, “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess” (Duet. 30:15-16).
In Christ’s love,