September 15, 2012

Marriage Is a Spiritual Relationship

(The marriage of Kate and Michael Armstrong, 2012 by Rev. John Gishler)

In the Gospel Reading (Mark 10.6-9) Jesus teaches us that in marriage two people both leave their parents protection and authority and are joined together in a “one flesh” relationship. This is a spiritual relationship because they are joined not by physical birth but an emotional or spiritual attraction.  To understand love more deeply, we need to look at marriage as a relationship between two human spirits that have physical bodies. These two spirits are about to promise to love, comfort, honour and protect each other in order to grow and experience joy in this relationship.

1.     They will promise to love each other.
a.    There are no limitations or conditions attached
b.    These promises are being made in the presence of God
c.     Apostle Paul defines unconditional love as patient and kind
d.    Unconditional love is not self-seeking – self-sacrificial
e.    Unconditional love keeps no record of wrongs – forgives
f.      Unconditional love perseveres in hope
g.    Unconditional love enables us to overcome our fear

2.     They will promise to comfort each other

September 8, 2012

Those Who Love God Are Promised a Kingdom

(Teaching notes for Proper 23, Year B 2012 by Rev. John Gishler)

The Readings remind us of our need to develop and maintain a personal love relationship with God if we wish to have an eternal spiritual life. The Proverbs remind us that there is justice and if we fail to love others, including the poor and vulnerable there will be consequences. James comes right out and says they will “...inherit the Kingdom He promised to those who love him.” (James 2.5) Finally in the Gospel Jesus uses the example of the non-Jewish woman (who was considered outside the Covenant of Moses) to teach us that those who demonstrate love by enduring rejection and come to Him in faith will be included in the spiritual kingdom.

1.     Jesus tested the Syrophoenician woman’s faith
1.1.   It was brutal – he called her a dog, unworthy of God’s attention
1.2.   She was not put off – she came back with a tremendous reply
1.3.   She demonstrated love in challenging accepted teachings
1.4.   Showed she believed God loved all people – not just the Jews
1.5.   Showed she believed blessings were to be shared with others
1.6.   Her love and faith were greater than her fear of religious authority
1.7.   Jesus in return loved her and honoured her request
1.8.   In honouring her request Jesus demonstrated love by taking a risk in offending the Jews and in  revealing His power over the demonic

2.     The Ten Commandments are key tests of our love of God