Sermon Introduction –
Jesus called us to be one in the Spirit and to live out his one command—love as he had loved us. In today’s divided world, the church is not more united than the world we are called to serve. Is it no wonder that church attendance is down if there is no difference? The parable of the Good Samaritan is not just a story about taking time to do good to one’s neighbor. It is a radical call to love as Jesus loved in spite of the all too common human hatred of our enemies. Saul, wrapped up in his zeal for the law, was passionate in working to destroy the followers of the Way, but once touched by Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul adjusted his ministry to meet the needs of all he was called to love. We are not to go to war for our faith, but to be united in love first to all we meet.
Introduction to our readings –
To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind is to reflect God’s mercy in responding to one’s neighbor. That mercy found its most profound expression in the “gospel that has come to you”—namely the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That gospel mercy comes to us again today: at the font, at the table, and from the pulpit. It is very near to you.