Broadway Baptist Church, May 3, 2015
Rev. Chris Caldwell
Before I pray, please join in a time of silent prayer.
Someone you know who is sick,
Someone you know who grieving,
Someone you know is struggling to find their way,
Someone you know who has made a mistake,
And please pray also for someone you don’t know:
Perhaps a poor person on the west side of Baltimore
Perhaps a police officer in that same place
Perhaps a grieving mother in Nepal
Or a frightened refugee fleeing Syria.
A Louisvillian who lives in your neighborhood
A Louisvillian who doesn’t.
Pray for someone who makes more money than you do
Pray for someone who makes less.
And now, as we bow, hear these words of Jesus from Matthew, chapter 5:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; ... 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
We excel, O God, at loving those who love us. We can love up a storm when it comes to:
People who have treated us well and sought the best for us
Family members who meet our expectations
Children who embrace our values and follow our dreams.
Our cups of love fill to overflowing for:
Leaders who lead in the direction we think they should go
Voters who are smart enough to vote like us
Neighbors who think we are great people.
But then again, to love people like this is as easy as pie.
Anyone can do it.
It’s easy to love people who agree with us and who meet our expectations.
So help us, Lord, to remember that your kingdom doesn’t come into this world easily.
Help us to love those we find it hard to love.
For those of us who are Republicans, help us to love the Democrats who fill up the other half of this room; for those of us who are Democrats, help us to do likewise.
Help us to love those who don’t meet our expectations, because they can’t.
Help us to love those who don’t meet our expectations, because they choose not to.
Help us to love those who are not
Help us to love
Help us to love
oversized egos or
or small minds
take too much
or forgive too little.
Help us to love the
the drug dealer
the corporate thief
and the shady politician.
Because, Lord, as your son and the entirety of Holy Scripture makes plain, your kingdom doesn’t come when we love good people who behave well
In part, because there are so few of those people to love; this we know, because we know how often we are not those people.
Help us to see that easy love will not bring in your kingdom, because easy love, convenient love, does not change lives.
But forgiving love can.
And merciful love can.
And unearned love can.
This we know, because we have been molded and shaped for the better by:
mercy we never merited
love we never earned
love that stuck with us when we were fools
love that saw the best in us, even when we knew too well the worst in ourselves.
And if we should complain that this kind of loving is too hard, remind us yet again, patient Lord, that you never once promised us that faith would be easy--yet you did promise us, that faith lived out in love could change lives, including our own.