It Is Not Easy, It Is Not Work for the Faint Hearted But It Is Our Work
The Reverend Michele H. Morgan
October 25th 2020
Proper 25, 2020
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. Matthew 22:34-46
What is it? Week five or seven of the petty legalism that is plaguing Jesus? There is no quit in these Pharisees they just keep coming after him. They did it, then they had the Herodias do it, they did it again and then they had the Sadducees go after him and then they took one more run.
The Pharisees asking a question that they know the answer too, it is a popular in Christian circles, and I actually said it in this weeks growing with God Jewish folks would always answer this question based on the book of the Torah, Deuteronomy ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.’
Yet, we see that through Christian eyes, we want to love God, and we want all the people in our community to love god and when we all do it we can all get along. YET, yet…my friends, in the world that Jesus is in there is more than one answer to what is the greatest commandment.
Mathew Henry said this, “It was a question disputed among the critics in the Law. Some would have the Law of Circumcision to be the Great Commandment, others the Law of the Sabbath, others the Law of Sacrifices” He went on to make the point that if Jesus stated one over the other it would tick off the rest.
Yet Jesus did state it was love God, and your neighbor as yourself.
I think that the lesson is not that we should love one another, though that would be nice. I think the lesson we should take away is how we can disagree with one another and continue to be in relationship with one another, and continue to be in conversation with one another and live in some of the grey area of life. None of which we are particularly good at. One way in our context is to participate in the body politic.
The public arena is a place where we need to be able to have these conversations. It is why voting is so important and why the more voices in the ballot box the better. It is also why some voices see it as so dangerous. By having all voices heard, we have to navigate a future of compromise, of equity. Of giving up some of our stuff so others might have more.
This summer we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the expansion of voting to woman. Woman’s Suffrage is a 100 years old. In the 1920 WHITE women were granted the access to the ballot. We had other voices coming into the conversation. Woman fought for the right to vote. For some it was conceivable that they did not deserve it.
I watched my mother and father vote, so to see mum not voting would have been baffling. My parents used their Hearts and their minds to vote. I suspect that they used their souls as well since the values that they professed were taught to them in the Anglican Church.
Woman 100 years ago too the right. They demanded the right and they were in the streets, they were being arrested, they were arguing with their husbands, and their fathers, perhaps their sons.
So Today we celebrate the woman who wrote the “Declaration of Sentiments” based on the Declaration of Independence, 1848 and wrote The 19th and then fought like heck for 72 years until it was passed. They fought and won in Illinois first, and then in The 35 other states to ratify. Tennessee being last in (August 18, 1919). Maryland didn’t ratify until 1941 and did not certify its legality until 1958. Virginia didn’t ratify until 1952. The last state to ratify the amendment was Mississippi in 1984. (The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument at 144 Constitution Avenue, NE, is also the site of the founding of St. Mark’s Church when Rev. Mark Olds met with parishioners of Christ Church+Capitol Hill to establish a mission to those working at the Capitol.)
So change is a long hard fight, we passed the voters rights act in 1965 after African American men and women all over this country fought and died for the right. . And we have to continued to fight to keep the franchise open to all. Poor people, felons, un-housed people all are a fight. There has been successful effort to lessen poor and marginalized folks from voting, less access means a suppressed vote.
There is voter restriction all over this country and we are reminded that we have to continue to fight for everyone’s voices. It is not easy, it is not work for the faint hearted but it is our work, to bring the conversation, the debate to all. To learn how to not only bring out Heart Mind, and soul into the conversation. But to bring in others too, and to listen to the Heart Mind and Soul of all and in that we can live into the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.
That is the challenge, not to shut down debate, and like the women 100 years ago, we continue to open up the conversation by opening up the access to the vote, it is what we are called to do.