Saturday, January 26, 2019

Come Alive

It’s another January day out there.  Cold, but not as frigid as yesterday, though the cold is returning we’re told.  Sun peeks out now and then, but not enough to chase the blues away.  

You stumble through your days / Got your head hung low / Your skies' a shade of grey / Like a zombie in a maze / You're asleep inside / But you can shake awake / 'Cause you're just a dead man walking / Thinking that's your only option / But you can flip the switch and brighten up your darkest day / Sun is up and the color's blinding / Take the world and redefine it / Leave behind your narrow mind / You'll never be the same

Some argue that a Christian should never be blue.  A true follower of Jesus should never be down, depressed, we hear.  That’s why we often hide it when we are struggling.  There is a switch we can flip.  Knowledge we can claim that can turn everything around.  The problem is there is.  Maybe not a switch to throw, maybe not anything quite so easy.  But there is new life to be had.  There is a fresh start, a new way of living in the world, a way of being.  Of loving and being loved.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly, and yet it still slips through our fingers with surprising speed.  What will it take for us to be able to throw that switch, to be able to come alive?

Luke.4:14-21  Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.  16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  21 Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

There is an invitation here.  It seems so obvious.  I know that this is really about Jesus.  The season of Epiphany is all about Jesus, not about us.  At best we get to stand in the glow of the light that comes.  But it is about Him.  Look at His own words as he stands to read the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me.”  Did you hear it?  “He has anointed Me ...”  “He has sent Me ...”  This isn’t about us, this is about Him.  

And yet, everything about Him is also about us.  Or rather, everything about Him is an invitation to us.  We bear His name, we call ourselves “Christian” which literally means “little Christs.”  We are trying to be like Him.  And though we fail more often than we succeed, we continue to try.  We continue to step out.  We continue to pore over His words to find the hidden meanings and insights into how to live the life He lived.  Continue to seek to come alive.

Come alive, come alive / Go and light your light / Let it burn so bright / Reaching up / To the sky / And it's open wide / You're electrified / When the world becomes a fantasy / And you're more than you could ever be / 'Cause you're dreaming with your eyes wide open / And you know you can't go back again / To the world that you were living in / 'Cause you're dreaming with your eyes wide open / So, come alive!

There are those who claim that Jesus was just wrong when He preached this first and shortest sermon.  “Today” He said.  “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Fulfilled?  How He even assume that?  How could He believe that freedom has been achieved, that vision has returned, that the poor are lifted up?  It hadn’t happened then, and it hasn’t happened yet to this very day.  He must have been wrong.  Right?

But was He?  What did He announce?  He announced that the Spirit had anointed Him to preach.  To proclaim.  And preach He did.  Proclaim He did.  He preached a world that we couldn’t see yet.  And then called us to see it too.   'Cause you're dreaming with your eyes wide open / And you know you can't go back again / To the world that you were living in / 'Cause you're dreaming with your eyes wide open / So, come alive!  He asked us to come alive, to live in a new world.  A world beyond our vision. A world based on our devotion to Him, our obedience to Him.  The Kingdom.  We are called to dream the Kingdom of God into being each and every day.  To move forward as if we saw something no one else sees.  At least those who aren’t yet alive, who haven’t yet given themselves to a declaration of jubilee.  Of freedom and redemption.  Of love and transformation.  Of value, immense and deep value.

We struggle to see our value.  We feel worthless more often than not.  Empty, a zombie in a maze, a dead one walking.  Yet we are called to know, to hear and proclaim our value, our worth.  Not just ours, but any and all who claim this Christ.  Any who shake awake enough to hear His words, His proclamation.  

Any and all.  That’s what got Him in trouble.  But that’s next week’s part of the story.  We’ll come back to that.  For now we’ll simply acknowledge that those who are alive will always look like freaks to those who are dead.  Who are not yet alive.  

But that’s the invitation.  The call to come alive in Christ.  The invitation is to dream with our eyes wide open.  To believe in something we don’t always see, love and justice, forgiveness and mercy.  Because He saw it, He proclaimed it, He lived it every day, with every breath.  And we want to stand with Him.  He asked us to stand with Him. He said “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  In your hearing.  Meaning us.  In our hearing.  It was an invitation, a call to join Him in the mission to proclaim, to make disciples, to be the church.  In your hearing, He said.  Not just the vibration of your eardrums, but in the secret corners of your heart where you live and define yourself.  Hear it there.  Hear it in the fabric of your soul, in the strings of your heart.  In your dreaming with eyes wide open.  Come alive, He says to us.  And join Me in the proclamation.

Yet it seems impossible.  Beyond us.  Our eyes don’t see as clearly as His do.  Our hearts can’t stand the rejection, the despair like His did.  We give up, we blink away the dream we can’t hold on to on our own.  We have trouble standing against the tide of those who think differently.  Who want to build walls and not bridges, who want to call names and point fingers and not see a common humanity in the ones called least of these, who say security is our highest goal and not community.  It’s beyond us to hold on to this dream, this proclamation, this kingdom.  

The truth is it is hard, too hard for us.  Beyond our power.  Out of our reach.  Which is why we need help.  Like He did.  Wait, what?  He had help?  Luke says He did.  Did you notice?  At the beginning of the text.  Right there it says He had help.  He relied on a power that came from above.  “Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.”  Filled with the power of the Spirit.

On our own power we can’t hope to come alive.  We can’t hope to dream the kingdom dream.  We need the power of the Spirit to stand.  And once we open ourselves to that power, then we can’t go back.  Come alive.  


Saturday, January 19, 2019


Ladies and gents, this is the moment you've waited for (woah) / Been searching in the dark, your sweat soaking through the floor (woah) / And buried in your bones there's an ache that you can't ignore / Taking your breath, stealing your mind / And all that was real is left behind

Don't fight it, it's coming for you, running at ya / It's only this moment, don't care what comes after / Your fever dream, can't you see it getting closer /Just surrender 'cause you feel the feeling taking over / It's fire, it's freedom, it's flooding open / It's a preacher in the pulpit and you'll find devotion / There's something breaking at the brick of every wall, it's holding / All that you know / So tell me do you wanna go?

Well, do ya?  Of course we do. With an intro like that, who could say no?  Who could turn away?  Not me.  Buried in your bones there’s an ache you can’t ignore.   For what?  What are we longing for these days?  What draws us, what excites us?  What drives us to reach for, hope for more?  Not more stuff, surely.  But more out of life.  More life!  

We live in an excitement seeking world.  And we have to engage in increasingly dangerous and strenuous activities to keep the adrenaline flowing.  Extreme sports, extreme anything really.  That’s what we want, the thrill a minute, edge of the seat kind of excitement that keeps us feeling alive.  And why not?  Why not grab hold of life with both hands?  Why not drink deep of the waters of life?  Why not run with the wind of joy and celebration?  Why not rejoice at the good things that surround us daily?  Why not love with abandon?  Why not?

I’ll tell you why not.  Because it isn’t real.  Right?  There is so much broken in the world.  There is so much that drags us down, so much that weighs on us. Because life is hard, because no one is on your side.  Because the enemy is at the border, ready to swoop in and steal our livelihood, if not our very lives.  Right?  Because there is too much to fear.  That’s why not.  That’s why we ignore the ache in our bones for something more, something real. Because we don’t know what’s real.  Which news is fake, which fear-mongering is more reflective of the reality in which we live.  We believe who we choose to believe, even when they are proved to be wrong.  It’s a harsh world full of disappointment and betrayal, better to protect yourself, guard your heart so you don’t get hurt.  So that when something goes wrong you can say, I didn’t expect anything less.  It just proves my point that the world is a terrible place.

Except.  It's everything you ever want / It's everything you ever need / And it's here right in front of you / This is where you wanna be (this is where you wanna be) Except, there is more.  There must be more.  There must be something of life left to embrace.  Something that we were created for.  Something that fills us like nothing else.  That gives us joy and a reason to celebrate.  Something like a party.  Or a wedding.

John 2:1-11  On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."  4 And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come."  5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."  6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.  7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim.  8 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it.  9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom  10 and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now."  11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 

Wow!  He revealed His glory. Jesus is a showstopper.  That’s my thesis this worship series.  I called it “Showstoppers” and am using some of my favorite musical numbers to help us understand Jesus the showstopper.  A showstopper is a song that is so powerful it steps outside of the narrative of the show and lets us just dwell in the glory of the lyrics and the music.  I watched the movie “The Greatest Showman” not too long ago and I was struck by the power of many of the songs.  And then when I laid them alongside these stories of Jesus, I was struck by the overlapping themes. 

Jesus launches His whole ministry at a wedding.  A blow out party of the year.  That’s what weddings were in those days.  We thought we invented the lavish wedding to end all weddings.  But no, in Jesus’s day weddings lasted a week.  The whole community was invited, the spread was endless, the celebration lasted around the clock (which, I know, hadn’t even been invented yet). In chapter one of John’s Gospel we have a poetic/theological intro, a quick dispensing of John the Baptist, and then the calling of the first of Jesus disciples.  Now, we’re underway.  At a wedding.  At a week long celebration of life and love, of hope and possibility, of a new beginning, but also the riskiness of living.  Things go wrong at weddings.  We all know that.  It’s often what we talk about afterwards.  There are plenty of YouTube videos of wedding disasters, go look them up. 

So, disaster struck at this one too.  Mary noticed it.  It’s a mom thing.  They pay attention.  They band together to resolve the problem.  Mary knew how to fix this one.  She went to Jesus.  “They’ve run out of wine.”  She has a solution to this wedding disaster, this breach in the firm communal rules of hospitality.  She turns to Jesus.

Now Jesus’s response seems a bit ... harsh. Woman, He says.  Not “aw mom, I’m in disguise, lying low.  It’s not time yet.”  Woman.  What is that to do with me or with you?  It’s not my hour.  Harsh.  In the midst of the party, Jesus is prickly, snapping at His mom, shirking His responsibilities - or at least opportunities.  I can’t explain it away.  Can’t find a loophole to make Him not look so rude.  It’s just there.  Another sign that we can love Him, even when we don’t or can’t understand Him.  

In John’s Gospel, everything has layers of meaning.  It’s not my hour is something that Jesus says frequently.  Again and again He reminds those around Him that it wasn’t His hour.  “His hour” has a specific reference for John.  His hour is the cross.  It is death and it is glory.  In a way we’ll never understand, but live in awe of.  

What it doesn’t mean is that He is opting out of the party.  And His mom knew that.  She passes the word to the servants and they leap to fix the unfixable at His word.  He has them fill six stone jars with water.  And makes 180 gallons of the best wine anyone has ever tasted.  And little bit of glory slips out.  Everyone is amazed, even those who don’t know why, but they grab a glass and toast the groom who had been trying to hide from embarrassment.  And the party goes on.

And His disciples believed in Him.  Wait, what?  His disciples believed in Him?  What, they’d just been along for the ride up to now?  They were kinda “well, I’ll go, but I’m not so sure about this guy!”  What did they believe, John, why don’t you get specific?  They believed Jesus had a future in catering?   They believed that they’d never go thirsty again?  What did they believe?  Who knows?  But they believed.

We’re in John’s Gospel remember.  Everything has layers.  Everything has deeper meanings.  Believe in John’s Gospel means something other than what we usually think.  It’s not an intellectual assent.  It’s not a logical theorem argued convincingly.  When John says they believed in Him what he means is that they were ready to put their lives in His hands.  They were ready to place all their bets on Him.  To affix their futures to His.  To go all out for Him.  Because He was everything they ever want, He was everything they ever need, and He was right there in front of them, this - that’s what they knew with every fibre in their being - this is where they wanna be.  With Him. 


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Snow Day

It’s a messy day today.  The snow is falling fast and hard and seemingly endlessly.  Sure it’s pretty, but also treacherous, and who knows whether it will stop in time for folks to decide to come to worship on Sunday.  Sometimes I think Saturday snows are testing the faith of the church.  

And it is snowing in Kansas City, where our Colts are planning to continue their improbable season by beating what many consider the best team in the NFL.  Can they do it again?  Arrowhead Stadium is an open air field, so they’ll be fighting the elements as well as the opponents.  A messy day.  Go Colts anyway.  Go through the messy to victory.

Which is sometimes the best we can do.  Go through the messy.  To victory, which sometimes is merely survival.  Sometimes victory is being able to continue on another day.  To not run screaming into the darkness.  Just holding on and hoping.  

The other messiness of today is that I’m not preaching tomorrow.  There was a time that I hated that, I lived to preach and it was something of an agony to have to stand aside to let someone else proclaim the Word.  Now I know better.  I know that sometimes I need to be quiet too.  Need to listen and not just always speak.  Some times there aren’t any words to say, and I need to acknowledge that.  Need to allow the messy world in which we live speak.  Or at least to listen for other voices from time to time. 

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22  As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,  16 John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." ... Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,  22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." 

This is the First Sunday after Epiphany, which means that the story is about the baptism of Jesus.  It is the second of the three Epiphanies that border this liturgical season.  We begin on Epiphany with the Wise men who saw the star, they were given an epiphany, a revelation about who this child really was.  Not the son of a poor girl and her husband who couldn’t find a room in the inn, but the savior of the world.  

The first Sunday of the season and the last Sunday after Epiphany contain two revelations that also identify Jesus as God’s Son.  We begin with the baptism and then we end with the transfiguration, that misty mountain top experience.

What is interesting about Luke’s depiction of the event is that the baptism hardly figures in at all.  The verses we skip serve to usher John the Baptist off the stage in favor of Jesus who now begins his ministry.  But after John’s bluster, the next thing we know is that the baptism had already taken place.  We missed it.  Ain’t that always the way?  We come for the show and by the time we got our seats, it had already happened.  “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus had also been baptized...”  Darn it!  

You’d think that if Luke had a clue about the centuries of struggle the church has had about the detail of baptism, he might have spent a little more time with it.  We don’t know if Jesus was immersed or sprinkled.  We don’t know which liturgy John prefers, or if the vows that Jesus made were the same as the ones we make or not.  We don’t know if John was properly credentialed or if Jesus followed the rules.  We don’t know who signed the certificate.  We need to know these things, don’t we?  

Luke doesn’t seem to think so.  “Jesus had also been baptized...”  That’s the sum total of the description here.  If Luke is saying that the methodology isn’t what is important, then what is?  Why is Jesus even there in the first place?  That’s the question that has puzzled biblical scholars since the beginnings of the church.  John was preaching a baptism of repentance.  But we know that Jesus was without sin.  So, why would He need to be there?  What’s going on here?

The other interesting thing is that the next verses in Luke’s third chapter are the genealogy of Jesus.   Since the Gospel writers never do anything for the heck of it, we have to ask why is the list of Jesus’ earthly family tree following the story of His being claimed by his heavenly father?  

Here is the leap I’m asking you to make with me this weekend: Jesus went to John to be baptized because He was entering into this messy world that we live in.  All of us are born into a world not of our making.  A world we can barely understand at the best of times, a world we cannot explain at the worst of times.  A world that needs repentance, which is a corporate need as much as an individual one.  Jesus strode into the river to be buried up to the neck in the sin of the world, and then to rise to the Spirit.  He didn’t approve of the brokenness of this world, but He embraced it, He made it his, and He carried it with Him, like a chip on the shoulder, like a pack on His back, He carried it all the way to the cross.

And what did He say, when He embraced all that is wrong in this life, all that is less than divine, less than holy?  What words did He use to give meaning and understanding and explanation?  He didn’t say a thing.  Like us He was silent.  Did He want to speak?  Or was the weight of the burden He accepted so heavy that even He was struck dumb.  Like us, He was silent.  So that He would know what we experience when we have no words to say in the face of the messiness of our own lives.

There were words spoken in that moment, though.  Words that echo in the silence of our moments even to this day.  They weren’t His words or ours or any human.  They were God’s Words and they said simply: “I love you.”  Words of affirmation, not for deeds done or not done, but for being.  Just for being.  I love you.  Words to hear in the midst of darkness, words to cling to in the midst of doubt.  In the maelstrom of living and of dying we hear and then - by grace - speak these words, they are all we have: I love you.


Saturday, January 5, 2019


Happy Epiphany!  I know!  You must be thinking: “Can it get any better?  What a run on major celebrations!  Christmas, then New Years and now,” drumroll and fanfare, “Epiphany!”  Wow.  Take a breath.  Slow it down.  Wouldn’t do to get too excited.  Please, pace yourself.  

OK, enough silliness.  But, there was a time when the big celebration in the life of the people of God was Epiphany.  Christmas was at best a minor celebration, a story read at night accompanied with hymns and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  Epiphany, on the other hand, was the big feast day, worship and singing, feasting and gift-giving.  This was the day that the community of faith looked forward to with joy and with hope.  It was a day of orienteering.

Wait.  What?  Orienteering.  Ask a scout, if you know one.  I first discovered this activity when we lived in England many years ago.  It was an outdoor kind of activity.  A getting lost and then found again kind of thing.  Orienteering is about using the tools of navigation to find your way around the wilderness.  Maybe with just a map and a compass, maybe with more sophisticated global positioning devices now days, perhaps it is easier than it used to be.  But there are still choices to be made, a commitment to follow whatever star you choose to follow.  

I believe that is why the symbol for Epiphany is the star that guided the wise men to the child in Bethlehem.  Not to spend more time on the cute baby stories, but to symbolize the need for a guiding star that will take us where we need to go.  Or to help us become who we need to become.

Matthew 2:1-12 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6 'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" 7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The Christian life is often depicted as a journey.  John Bunyan’s classic work Pilgrim’s Progress is but one example of this.  Hidden in all these metaphors is the concept of the map, the guide, the star that leads us along the way.  We like to think we can find our own way.  But the truth is we need help.  We need study, first of all, and we need the willingness to go, to leave where we are to go and seek.  But we also need mentors and guides, we need helpers and leaders as we journey through this life.  And of course we, being good church folk, would say that Christ is our guide, Jesus is our leader.  

Of course that is true.  But also kind of vague.  Jesus is our guide when he turns water into wine?  Christ is our leader when he walks on water?  Step right up, you first.  I’m not just poking fun, well, not just.  I’m asking a serious question.  If Epiphany is about the light that shines forth, about seeing and knowing that presence and that invitation, that call from God through Christ, then what is it that we follow?  What is our star?

Mark 12:28-31  And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"  29 Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one;  30 and 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.'  31 The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." 

Polaris, or Alpha Ursuae Minoris, is the official name of the star we usually call the North Star.  It is the one that sits above the north pole and has been a guide to navigation for almost all of human history.  When you see those time lapse photographs of the stars, Polaris is the one around which all the others spin.  

The scribe who approaches Jesus is asking for Polaris.  What is the law by which all the others are measured?  What is our guiding light, the mentor that will take us in hand and lead us toward the Kingdom?

In 2004, Dr. Scot McKnight wrote a book titled “The Jesus Creed.”  In it he argues that this passage is that guiding star for all of us as Christians.  If we could let these “commandments” be our guide, shaping our behavior, directing our decisions, transforming us as individuals and as the community, then we too would be “not far” from the kingdom which is what Jesus says to the scribe who asked the question in the first place.

The question was “which commandment is first of all?”  At least in our translation. Others say “foremost” or “most important.”  Jesus had just come through the Palm Sunday experience, had been sparring with other leaders of the Jews over issues like politics and authority and power, and now was approached by this scribe who seems a little different.  Not trying to trap Jesus into saying something intemperate or inflammatory, he was genuinely curious, or earnestly seeking.  Sum up the law, he asked, tell me what path to take, what priority to follow.  Tell me who I am supposed to be.  The law defined them, they were people of the law, but now this one at least was asking what does that look like.  

Sometimes Jesus was frustratingly complex in his responses and stories.  Other times he was clear as crystal, and the struggle is not in the what - as in what did he mean - but in the how - as in how do we possibly do this.  This is one of those crystal clear yet overwhelmingly troubling times.  The axis around which all we are and all we are called to be and do is worship and service, or devotion and ethics. 

Love God with all heart and soul and mind and strength.  Mark misquotes the OT (Deut 6:5) and adds in “mind” as part of the formula.  His intention was that we hear Jesus as being all inclusive - emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical power directed toward God.  God is the center, the source, the reason for our continued existence, source of our joy and contentment.  God is all in all.

But Jesus doesn’t stop there.  That would answer the question - the greatest commandment.  But Jesus continues on.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  “The second is this.”  Deutera autois. Could be second, probably is, that is the most common translation of that phrase.  But it could be “and also” or “next is.”  Meaning not second of a series, but a continuation of the first.  It is more, one commandment love God and love neighbor.  Two sides of the same coin.  Or the practice of one is found in the other.  How do we love God? By loving neighbor.  How do we find it possible to love neighbors?  By loving God.  We circle around these guiding thoughts, guiding commandments like stars orbiting Polaris.  

Practicing Jews still today, like they did centuries ago, write this commandment on a little piece of paper and attach it to the doorframes of their houses.  You remember, we talked about it not too long ago.  It is called the mezuzah, and it is the little reminder that they are guided by the law, summed up in these words.  It has become their Polaris. 

By the way, in looking up information about Polaris, I learned something interesting.  The north star, is not just a star.  In fact it is a collection of stars, a multiple star it is called.  First of all it is a collection of three stars - a trinity if you will - and then there are two others that are a little more distant but come together to make up the light that we see.  Interesting, don’t you think.  A trinity with a dual emphasis.  God the three in one, approached by worship (love God) and service (love neighbor).