Sunday, November 4, 2018

For the Love of neighbor - Mark 12: 28-34

The two greatest commandments of all time…as I write this I am feeling angry, sad, fearful and at the same time I am at peace, full of Joy and full of love of our God. 
This past week has been hard with the shooting at the synagogue “Eleven lives were taken Saturday (October 27th) morning. Two other worshipers were injured and four officers also were injured. Among those killed: Middle-aged brothers, an elderly husband and wife and a grandmother nearing 100. Many of them had gathered for a naming ceremony, which marks the beginning of a baby's journey in the Jewish faith.
Those killed were Daniel Stein, 71; Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal 54; husband and wife Bernice Simon, 84 and Sylvan Simon, 86; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69.”[1]
It is important to say the names and honor those who have passed…Love your neighbor as yourself…
“Before his life was so senselessly taken this past Saturday during the anti-Semitic terrorist act at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Jerry Rabinowitz, M.D., spent much of it adhering to the mitzvah calling on him to care for the sick around him and never to stand idly by the blood of his fellow. In a Facebook post made shortly after his death, ACT UP New York volunteer Michael Kerr memorialized Dr. Rabinowitz, detailing the compassion with which the doctor cared for people living with HIV in Pittsburgh at a time when many physicians either refused to accept them as patients or treated them with a toxic mixture of fear and judgment.

"In the old days, for HIV patients in Pittsburgh, [Dr. Rabinowitz] was to one to go to," Kerr wrote. "Basically before there was effective treatment for fighting HIV itself, he was known in the community for keeping us alive the longest. He often held our hands (without rubber gloves) and always always hugged us as we left his office. . . . [T]hank you Dr. Rabinowitiz [sic] for having always been there during the most terrifying and frightening time of my life. You will be remembered by me always."”[2]
“He was taken to my hospital and he’s shouting, ‘I want to kill all the Jews’,” Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, president of Allegheny General Hospital and a member of the Tree of Life Synagogue, told ABC. “The first three people who took care of him were Jewish” …
Another nurse, whose father is a rabbi, “came in from a mass casualty drill and took care of this gentleman.
“We are here to take care of sick people. We’re not here to judge you. We’re not here to ask ‘Do you have insurance or do you not have insurance?’ We’re here to take care of people who need our help,” he said.
Cohen says he and Bowers had a brief conversation at the hospital.
“When I stopped in, I asked him how he was doing. Was he in pain? And he said, ‘No. He was fine,'” Cohen said.
Cohen says Bowers then asked him who he was.
“I said I’m Dr. Cohen, president of the hospital. Then I turned around and left,” he said. “The FBI agent who was guarding him said, ‘I don’t know if I could have done that.’ And I said, ‘If you were in my shoes, I’m sure you could.”
This how we love our Neighbor as ourself…

 “A gunman who killed two people at a Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, Ky., on Wednesday (October 24th) tried to enter a predominantly black church minutes before the attack, the police said on Thursday.”[3] “A church member sitting in the parking lot saw the suspect banging on and pulling the door, trying to get inside, the affiliate reported.
"To think that an hour and a half earlier, we had 70 people in the church," church administrator Billy Williams told the affiliate. "But by the time he came through, all doors were locked, and there were probably eight or 10 still in the building."[4]
Again, we must say the names, those who were shot were Vickie Lee Jones, 67, and Maurice E. Stallard, 69, our hearts go out to their friends and family.
“Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf said the shooting has shattered a community that values its sense of family.
"We are kindred spirits no matter our walk of life or how we worship or what we look like. We take pride in that," he said.”[5]
We are kindred spirit and holding this up in the face of tragedy and hatred is exactly how we love our neighbor
I just read a story of a man who works with a religious non profit that is affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist church called no more deaths. I have walked with no more deaths.  They work out in the hottest and most cruel part of the dessert.
“The mission of No More Deaths is to end death and suffering in the Mexico–US borderlands through civil initiative: people of conscience working openly and in community to uphold fundamental human rights. Our work embraces the Faith-Based Principles for Immigration Reform and focuses on the following themes:
Direct aid that extends the right to provide humanitarian assistance
Witnessing and responding
Consciousness raising
Global movement building
Encouraging humane immigration policy…
No More Deaths maintains a year-round humanitarian presence in the deserts of southwestern Arizona. We work in the remote corridors into which migration has been pushed, where people are walking 30 to 80 miles. Volunteers hike the trails and leave water, food, socks, blankets, and other supplies. Under the direction of our medical team, volunteers provide emergency first-aid treatment to individuals in distress.”[6]
Our government has raided their offices and arresting nine employees and they arrested a “35-year-old college instructor, with a doctorate in geography and a history of academic and humanitarian work along the border, was found in a building known locally as “the Barn,” in the company of two young undocumented men from Mexico.
Accused of supplying the men with food, water, clothing, and a place to sleep…”[7]
Love your neighbor as yourself…Despite what our government may be doing…This organization in the past was given the same respect as the red cross…providing humanitarian aid…now our government chooses to treat them as criminals
Love your neighbor as yourself
There once was a great philosopher who has my sentiments worded better than I can myself…
“There's a local paper rolled up in a rubber band
One more sad story's one more than I can stand
Just once how I'd like to see the headline say
"Not much to print today, can't find nothin' bad to say", because
Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD'ed, nobody burned a single buildin' down
Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today”[8]
God bless Anne Murray
Sometimes I feel like the young man who came to Jesus a few weeks ago and asked; “what more can I do?”… he walked away feeling sad and rejected...we can feel so powerless so overwhelmed
In times like these it is sometimes hard to love God…I am sure there are some family and friends of those people who are down right angry with God…you know that is okay too God can take it…God can take our anger, God can take our pain, God can take our dismay.  God can take it and take it and take it again. And then, when we can give no more away, when we are exhausted, and all angered out, when we have wrenched out every drop of pain to the point we have nothing left to give
God fills us back up.  God renews us. Gods spirit surrounds us protects us and holds onto us till we remember that we belong to God…Till we can sing todays psalm again

Praise the Lord.[a]
Praise the Lord, my soul.
2 I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8     the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
I do not know about you but I feel like I would like to see a bit more of that frustrating the ways of the wicked thing…although in the recent case of the attempted bomber maybe God has because not one bomb has detonated
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. [One] experiences [oneself] . . . as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of [one’s] consciousness. . .. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. —Albert Einstein”[9]
What we truly need and long for is the presence of God…Especially in times like these.
“We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness. Little do we realize that God’s love is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take. As we take another, it means that God is choosing us now and now and now and now. We have nothing to attain or even learn. We do, however, need to unlearn some things.
To become aware of God’s loving presence in our lives, we must accept that human culture is in a mass hypnotic trance. We’re sleepwalkers. All great religious teachers have recognized that we human beings do not naturally see; we have to be taught how to see. Jesus says further, “If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light” (Luke 11:34). Religion is meant to teach us how to see and be present to reality. That’s why the Buddha and Jesus say with one voice, “Be awake.” Jesus talks about “staying watchful” (Matthew 25:13; Luke 12:37; Mark 13: 33-37), and “Buddha” means “I am awake” in Sanskrit.
Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence, living in awareness of the Presence, and even enjoying the Presence. The contemplative is not just aware of God’s Loving Presence, but trusts, allows, and delights in it.
Faith in God is not just faith to believe in spiritual ideas. It’s to have confidence in Love itself. It’s to have confidence in reality itself. At its core, reality is okay. God is in it. God is revealed in all things, even through the tragic and sad, as the … cross reveals!
All spiritual disciplines have one purpose: to get rid of illusions so we can be more fully present to what is. These disciplines exist so that we can see what is, see who we are, and see what is happening. What is, is love, so much so that even the tragic will be used for purposes of transformation into love. It is God, who is love, giving away God every moment as the reality of our life. Who we are is love, because we are created in God’s image. What is happening is God living in us, with us, and through us as our unique manifestation of love. And each one of us is a bit different because the forms of love are infinite.”[10]
So in these times that feel so surreal let us always remember to stop and place ourselves in the presence of God.  Allow yourself to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Let us Love ourselves as God loves us so that we may be that presence of love to one another. Amen!

[8] Songwriters: Rory Michael Bourke / Charlie Black / Tommy Rocco
A Little Good News lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management, Words & Music A Div Of Big Deal Music LLC, recorded by Anne Murray 1983
[9] Albert Einstein, Condolence letter to Norman Salit (March 4, 1950). Reprinted in The New York Times, March 29, 1972,
[10] Richard Rohr’s Daily meditation Oct, 29 2018; Adapted from Richard Rohr: Essential Teachings on Love, ed. Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Orbis Books: 2018), 12, 25.

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