1 Kings 3:5-12
At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask what I should give you.’ And Solomon said, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart towards you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?’
It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.
The Word of the Lord.
Your decrees are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
With open mouth I pant,
because I long for your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your custom towards those who love your name.
Keep my steps steady according to your promise,
and never let iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of tears
because your law is not kept. Amen.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Word of our Lord.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’
He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’
‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’
The Gospel of our Lord.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Life is complicated. Actually – life can be very – very complicated sometimes! Especially when it comes to our relationships with other people. Navigating relationships is tricky even in the of best circumstances. We all know that caring for and loving other people can be incredibly complicated.
Yes – of course – some days are easy breezy – lemon squeezy. Some days love just flows out of us like we are a river. Some days our hearts overflow with love for our beloved family members! And we give God thanks for the incredible blessing of family.
We find ourselves absolutely – positively shocked that we could be so incredibly and wonderfully blessed to have these spectacular blessings from God in our humble lives.
We look around at our families and think to ourselves – my heart is just so very full of love for these wonderful people! My cup really and truly runneth over.
Tears of joy and thanksgiving might even come to our eyes – because we have the truly incredible honor and privilege of knowing and loving such wonderful people.
We do have days like these. (Okay – maybe not entire days.) But we do have moments like these! We do have times in our lives when our hearts are just so wonderfully full of love for the people in our lives. When we give thanks for the people we love.
But – because we are all very human – human beings and the people we love are just as human we are – we also have days when it is a bit harder to find and feel the love. We have days when the sound of our children’s voices doesn’t make our hearts sing for joy. We have days when we look out our spouse and all we can think is – hmmm – she sure does talk A LOT and what’s up with all of the yarn?!? (I couldn’t pick on Jason here – because he doesn’t have any annoying habits . . .) And the sight of those dirty socks in the middle of dining room floor or better yet in the middle of the dining room table turns you into “the scary lady AGAIN!” (Or maybe that just happens at our house!?!)
It isn’t that we have stopped loving these people – it’s just that we find them to be incredibly ANNOYING. And I would guess that the feelings are mutual. Relationships are complicated.
COVID-19 has added a whole new level of interest and complexity and in many cases intensity to our family relationships hasn’t it?
For those of us who share our homes with other human beings – we are seeing a whole lot of each other these days. In most circumstances we are seeing way – way more of some people than we have ever seen before. For example – the last time I spent this much time with Will McFarland was 8 years ago – when we were still sharing a body! It has been interesting and lovely and great and hard and exhausting and stressful and a blessing and hard. Did I mention that it has been hard?
These last few months have been a lot of things at our house. And I am guessing that we are not alone.
More than once over the past few months – I have declared that “I am going to church to WORK all by MYSELF. I do NOT know when I will be home. And absolutely NO one is coming with me! NO ONE!”
Certainly I am not alone in finding loving people to be complicated. I know that my family finds loving me to be a complicated endeavor. Actually they would say that loving me is very – very complicated!
But in the end- I love my family no matter what. Really – I do. I love them dirty socks and annoying habits and messy messes and sassy sass and all.
I am sure you have all felt this sort of love for someone else. That you have loved someone not matter what they did. No matter how frustrating or annoying or hurtful they were. That you have loved someone even when you did not like them or their actions very much.
This sort of love is pretty amazing. This sort of love is downright impressive. And it is certainly an incredible blessing.
But this sort of love is still just a very dim reflection of the love God the Father has for each of you. God’s love for you is so perfect – it dims all other kinds of love. God’s love for you is so perfect – it boggles the mind.
Listen to how Saint Paul describes God’s love for you. God’s love for you “is patient. God’s love for you is kind. God’s love for you is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. God’s love for you is not irritable or resentful – it does not rejoice in wrongdoing – but rejoices in the truth. God’s love for you bears all things – believes all things – hopes all things – endures all things. And most wonderfully of all God’s love for you never ends.”
That sort of love – is a love in which we can find great comfort and hope. That sort of love changes our lives and redeems us for all eternity. That sort of love reveals to us the beauty of heaven. And that is the sort of love God has for each of you.
And there is even more to God’s love for you. In Romans chapter 8 Saint Paul wrote – “who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or the sword? No – in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death – nor life – nor angels – nor rulers – nor things present – nor things to come – nor powers – nor height – nor depth – nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Absolutely nothing can separate you from God’s perfect love for you. God will always love you. There is nothing in this world that will stop God from loving you – nothing. Not even death can stop God from loving you – because God won’t let it.
Even on your very worst days – God stands before you and proclaims. You are my beloved child. I have loved you from the beginning of time – I love you right now and I will love you forever. Nothing will ever change that. Truly this is Good News – AMEN.