The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer
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Based on: Mark 12: 28-34

Opening Prayer: May the words on my lips and the thoughts and feelings we experience on hearing God’s word for us through scripture this day, may all of it be acceptable in your sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.

This morning we gather to memorialize past relationships in our service of remembrance.

We also gather to celebrate present relationships as the body of Christ, here and now in this very moment.

And, we bring our hopes, our dreams, and our prayers for future relationships as they unfold.

In the middle of this mix of emotions of reminiscence, we have this foundational text from Mark’s gospel.

Here in this reading from Mark’s gospel, here in the public arena of Jerusalem, we meet Jesus in heated debate with the religious authorities.

Into the mix another scholarly scribe arrives.

He, too, feels the time is right to join in the conversation with Jesus.

And so he asks him the proverbial trick question: “What is the greatest commandment?”

Here, Jesus builds on that which is basic and foundational to his religious community’s self understanding and then tweaks that understanding slightly so that something new and wonderful is born.

Here, in Jesus’ response to the onslaught of questions and growing hostility, we see the beginning of a new understanding of what it means to be faithful and the beginning of a new relationship forming between these two most unlikely comrads.

Together, Jesus and the incoming scribe then enter into a new conversation together.

We might even say they’ve formed a learning partnership about what faithful living needs to look like.

Springboarding from the past ethos of loving the Lord their God with all their souls, hearts, minds, and strength; Jesus’ adds these words from the Holiness Code in the book of Leviticus:

“You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

From there, the scribe affirms the wisdom of Jesus’ words.

Then he does this amazing thing-he adds further to this new path of understanding.

Reminding all present with ears to listen and eyes to see, the scribe reveals that God is doing a new thing in that very moment, in and through his newfound relationship with Jesus.

Together, the two, who had begun their story of relationship as adversaries, these same two have entered into a new relationship.

Was it what anyone present expected?  Hardly.

Was it what the religious authorities wanted?  Absolutely not!

But, then, the building of God’s kingdom is like that. 

Surprising; earth shattering; and an unstoppable force!

In Jesus’ time, the love of neighbour was a narrow and restricted path.

Here in this passage, Jesus and the scholarly scribe begin the work of reconstructing the understanding of neighbour.

Together they weave together a new paradigm for walking the talk of their faith and a new call for faithful living.  Such a call will lead to service and suffering.  Such a call will turn the world upside down.

The interweaving of the love of God with the love of neighbour, the living out of Christian love as an intentional act of will is also our call as followers in the Way of Jesus.

This morning, on the occasion of our annual Remembrance Sunday service we are called to give thanks for those who have served and suffered on our behalf in the first and second world wars.

This morning, we also celebrate communion as the body of Christ in this current time and in this place, knowing that God continues to call us into service as ones intentionally engaged in walking the talk of our faith for the building of God's kingdom here and now.

Are we up for the intertwined blessing and challenge of that intentional call to love neighbour as self?

For the sake of humanity, for the sake of God’s good creation, for the sake of the whole cosmos, my fondest prayer is that we might respond with 'yes', 'yes', and 'yes' again.

May it be so, amen.