Mark 12:28-34 (NRSV)
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.
Hear O Israel The Lord our God the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your strength and all your soul. This passage, known as the Shema, is foundational to the Jewish faith. It is also Jesus’ answer to “what is the first Commandment?”, but Jesus doesn’t stop there. He adds a passage from Leviticus: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The question is whether we can do one without the other.
The church community is the place we learn to love God. Even in our baptism liturgy the church family pledges to tell the baptized of God’s love. From early Christian Education and fellowship we learn we belong to God and God loves us. As we grow, we worship and share experiences within the body of Christ that plant the seeds and grow our love for God. For me, Lewinsville’s small group ministry is where I feel God’s love most intensely and where my love for God continues to grow and mature.
All this is vitally important to sustaining our lives in God, but it is not enough. Jesus calls us to love our neighbor as well. The church’s role is no less critical in extending our love to neighbor. Here again one of the pillars of our small group ministry is service. Lewinsville’s commitment to mission is also evident in the church’s life.
God created us and has given us everything. Loving God is a grateful response to the gift of life. Loving and serving our neighbor is an expression of our love for God.
Almighty God, give our love action to serve you by serving our neighbor. Let us feel your voice deep within, moving us towards what we ought to do. We give thanks for all your blessings. May we use those blessings in your service.