Sunday, July 10 2022
Timothy Keller suggests that if “the meaning of life in the United States is the pursuit of pleasure and personal freedom” then suffering will be devastating for many people. “When pain and suffering come upon us, we finally see not only that we are not in control of our lives but that we never were.” Putting our trust in God and living a life of purpose and meaning can actually make suffering an opportunity for growth and draw us to a deeper relationship with God. Purpose is what brings meaning to our lives. When our purpose is about our own needs, pride, and control we are headed for disaster. Life can become more fulfilling and wonderful when we align our lives with the purpose of God.
In his book, “The Word is Very Near You,” Martin Smith defines prayer as attentiveness to God’s disclosure to us and the heart’s response to that disclosure. Paul prayed that God might dwell in our hearts. In today’s Gospel a person asked Jesus how we find purpose and meaning in our lives. Jesus asks them, "what is written in the law." They reply, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus tells the person if they can do this, they will inherit the Kingdom of God. They ask Jesus, “who is my neighbor?”
Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan who takes care of the man who was beaten and robbed on the road, and who was passed by the religious leader and a priest. The grace in the passage is the compassion and mercy that the Samaritan showed for the injured man. He took care of his wounds, let him ride on his own animal, brought him to an inn, paid in advance for his care and promised to come back and make sure his account was settled. The point of the passage is that Christ calls us to deepen our relationship with God so that we might understand what it means to love our neighbor. This story is not just about helping others, but about the mercy and compassion that can only come from God above. God sent God’s only son to suffer and die on the cross that your sins may be forgiven. This is a crucial understanding because when you realize how much God loves all of us, you can begin to see your neighbor in this light and practice a radical hospitality like the Good Samaritan. This idea of unearned grace turned everything upside down. This event changed the way people saw the world forever. The question is, “Can you accept the love of Christ in your heart and allow that love, mercy and compassion to spill out into the world?”
St. John’s has a wonderful reputation for radical hospitality. Every morning we pray together at 9 am. Fr. James has opened our doors to the community on Wednesdays at noon. Please join him and bring a friend. This week we start the summer book study on “Island of the World” on Monday nights at 6:30 pm. We also begin book study of “Gilead” on Mondays at noon. We are working with our neighbors at St. John’s, Cold Spring Harbor. Please join us on Sundays at 8 am and 10 pm for preaching from four different clergy in July. We know that this past two years has brought suffering and pain to many folks due to sickness, gun violence, and economic stress. God offers us a path of meaning and purpose in the midst of chaos. Please join us and I promise you will inherit the eternal life that our person in today’s Gospel was desperately seeking, but unable to find.
In Christ’s love,