ONE in 12
Psalm 71; 1-6
First Corinthians 13: 1-13
February 3, 2019
“Deliver me and rescue me by Your righteousness! Bend your ear toward me and save me! My God rescue me!”
This is another first Sunday in a new month … there are only 12 of these Sunday’s in a year. I know that most of you could have figured that out without my help but truthfully, today is One in 12. Yes, there are 365 days in most years and there are 325 shopping days left until Christmas 2019 … for those of you who need time to think about what presents to wrap and hand out to friends and family in December.
And, if last Sunday evening you were watching one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time on TV then you know that there are FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED MINUTES in each year … and perhaps if you watched and listened to that special musical you focused in on the lyrics from SEASONS of LOVE that powerful anthem both opens and closes the second act of the musical. Lyrics that incapsulate the challenge that is life.
How do you measure, measure a year? In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee? In inches? In miles? In laughter, in strife? Five hundred thousand six hundred minutes …
HOW DO YOU MEASURE A YEAR IN LIFE CHURCH? Jonathan Larson, the talented creator and composer of RENT poses as a possible answer to that question; HOW ABOUT LOVE? Yes, how about love as the measurement?
Our New Testament lesson today shows that Paul would be in agreement with Larson because in chapter 13 of First Corinthians, immediately following his listing of the various potential talents and abilities that have been given to people of faith, Paul focuses in on love … LOVE IS PATIENT … LOVE IS KIND … IT ISN’T ARROGANT nor RUDE and LOVE IS NOT HAPPY with INJUSTICE.
Paul felt it was essential to teach the people of that early church in Corinth that being a Christian was about focusing in on what God, from the early Scriptures of the Torah in the Old Testament through Jesus’ teaching, stressed, pushed, and clearly taught us …
Because friends … if Jesus is in your heart today … if you came here to worship and praise God … then you are not of the world but you are of God and then you have heard the lesson … Love God and Love neighbors.
One out of the 12 disciples, Judas, had betrayed Jesus and fled the Upper Room. Jesus turned to those who remained, “Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer …”
Jesus knew what was about to happen in the Garden and on Calvary… Jesus declared “I am the way, the truth, and the life …” But, Jesus said something there in that room … a room where He taught His disciples and all of us to value Holy Communion … a room where He broke the bread and said “this is my body broken for you” … a room where He blessed the cup and said “this wine is the blood of the new covenant poured out for the forgiveness of sin. When you gather together eat this bread and drink from this cup.”
FRIENDS, Jesus looked at each one of those men … each one one of His chosen 12 … and He said, “I give you a new commandment. Love each other. Just as I have loved you so you must … MUST love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples when you love each other.”
Paul reminds us “Now faith, hope and love remain … the greatest is love.” The greatest gift … this Scripture is not about weddings nor marriage ceremonies but it is about life. Paul’s lesson is about both our relationship with God and how we reflect God out into the world. The psalmist today calls out to the Creator … to the Holy with words that I hope you have paraphrased in your prayers “I’ve taken refuge in You, Lord! … Don’t let me be put to shame! … Deliver me and rescue me by Your righteousness! … Be my rock of refuge where I can always escape; You have commanded that my life be saved … rescue me from the power of the wicked.” CHURCH, it’s all about God’s LOVE … God does those things even though we slip towards the power of the wicked … we slip towards the words of the world … we slide into worldly realities sometimes not even realizing it.
I believe … I will always believe … that God … that Almighty God … Jehovah … the CREATOR GOD … when God made the decision to create humanity … God instilled in each person this incredibly special genetic trait … well we know from the Torah; God’s life lessons that went campfire to campfire until scribes recorded what we know as Genesis, Exodus … (sing Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and First and Second Samuel. First and Second Kings and First and Second Chronicles …)
God’s lessons for the world, right from the beginning, “GOD CREATED ALL HUMANITY in GOD’s OWN IMAGE, in the DIVINE IMAGE GOD CREATED THEM” … ALL not some not a selected variety not related to hair color, skin tone, not even to favorite sports teams but ALL HUMANITY in GOD’s OWN IMAGE and friends I believe that the essence of God is love! AMEN!
If God wasn’t ALL ABOUT LOVE … if God didn’t measure time in love … if God didn’t teach us that our human lives’ time on earth should be wrapped up in loving God and all others then perhaps this guidebook has no value.
This past week, I went through an experience that most people seem to dread and hope they never have to take on. I served as a jury member for a criminal case where a defendant had been charged with 11 felonies. I was the very last juror selected and both the woman who was sitting next to me in the potential juror pool and I had just spoken how it looked like we wouldn’t have to serve when one more juror was dismissed and a voice rang out DAVID DELANEY take seat 14. No … not me. Judge, reject me … toss me aside … there are others better suited for this and I don’t want to … I did it once and that should be enough. But I was in the IN CROWD of that Jury Box.
To give the lawyers a sense of who you are, once you are picked to go into the box you have to give a brief biographical description of yourself including what tv shows you watch. So, I decided when it came time to talk TV I would mention sports … I said that I watch sports on TV when the teams are from Buffalo. The judge interrupted me at that moment … and I was like reject me reject me … and he said, “Do you really expect any of those teams to ever win?” I said “Yes, I do your honor” to which he replied that is not a reason to remove you from this jury.”
So, I was picked … I went into a room with total strangers who came from different walks of life, different ethnic backgrounds and races, young and old, and I am assuming rich and poor. But, in this time of national strife and division over who we are, what we believe in and what we look like … this room of strangers discovered that we all liked each other. To a person … we laughed outside of court, we shared stories, and two of the guys are meeting up to watch the Super Bowl tonight, two women who work at Harrah’s and never knew each other until last week are having lunch, we have friended each other on social media, and one woman baked brownies for all of us. God created humanity in God’s Holy Image … All humanity … God is about love … 12 strangers but strangers no more; people can love others just because they are human … I was frankly amazed.
And, yes … we sat in judgment of this 21 year old. Pretty much holding his life in our collective hands. We had to agree … our human weaknesses; our listening abilities and whatever we brought with us to that court … 12 strangers had to agree and we did.
Today, is one of only 12 first Sunday’s in the year. If you weren’t in church on January 6th then this is your very first Sunday of the 12 Sunday’s of 2019. Although Jesus taught “as often as you gather …” and John Wesley said “I am to show that it is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord’s Supper as often as he can” there are many Christians who are thrilled that there are only a few times a year when the bread and cup must be taken. There are some Christians who don’t even reach deep in themselves to pray for forgiveness and to sense how fortunate we are to be able to “have refuge in the Lord .. to be rescued. To have our hope in God and Christ” before they eat the bread and take from the cup.
If we are to go out into the world in love then friends Communion is our opportunity to tangibly experience Jesus … to collectively and reverently take the bread and the cup acknowledging our sin … loving God for His Son … thanking God for God’s forgiveness.
I know I need to be rescued … I need God’s forgiveness … I slip away more times than I want to imagine but I know that I have a perfect God who loves me and is my judge who forgives as I forgive others not 12 strangers who really just want to get back to their lives … I have a perfect God who sent His Son to rescue me from my sins … I have a perfect God who created me and you and you and every single person you see today in the Holy Image including the members of the New England Patriots … in God’s Holy Image.
We are to love all these humans created in God’s Holy Image just as God loves us … our faith in Jesus changes us into loving people … people who love justice … people rescued from the power of the wicked and the grip of the wrongdoer and oppressor.
Five hundred thousand six hundred minutes … we only get 12 first Sunday’s in our tradition for Holy Communion and this is one of them. Eat the bread and drink from the cup knowing how much you are loved by God and never ever forgetting that your neighbor is loved equally by God so never try to divide nor to judge others as being not worthy of that love and to not being worthy to receive the salvation you have received … FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE … we are called to love and to be known for our love … How are you known?
Watch a video of today’s worship service: