The Two Great Commandments

Sermon Title:  The Two Great Commandments

Date: 26th October 2014

Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers

Church Calendar Date: 20th Sunday after Pentecost 2014

Lectionary Reading: Matthew 22:34-46

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  Matthew 22:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind…these words are part of the Shema that our Jewish brothers and sisters say each morning and evening.

They are words that I find say it all. It’s our whole being, our life energy that God loves and it is with all our whole being and life energy that we are to love God.

Of course love your neighbour as yourself is important as Jesus said..on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  These are from two parts of the Old Testament..Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

This twinning reflects the ‘two tablets’ division of the Ten Commandments, those dealing with God and those dealing with one’s neighbour.  (Brendan Byrne)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…this isn’t always easy to do.

When I was in hospital the second time, I started saying these words to myself and burst into tears.  Why? Because I had lost God. I felt like I was praying to thin air. It was a horrible feeling and one I could say had been with me before going into hospital. For one who has felt very close to God…I felt so distant. What was going on for me is what John of the Cross calls the Dark night of the soul.  John experiences dark periods when imprisoned, tortured and starved.  He felt if his Beloved had abandoned him. When he escaped he wrote a poem and then a commentary called ‘the dark night of the soul’.  Each day I receive meditations from Richard Rohr. Last week they were based on the dark nights that we have.

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
Luminous Darkness
Surrendering in Stillness Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mirabai Starr, writes of the dark night as one who has gone through it herself, like John of the Cross:
“The dark night descends on a soul only when everything else has failed. When you are no longer the best meditator in the class because your meditation produces absolutely nothing. When prayer evaporates on your tongue and you have nothing left to say to God. When you are not even tempted to return to a life of worldly pleasures because the world has proven empty and yet taking another step through the void of the spiritual life feels futile because you are no good at it and it seems that God has given up on you, anyway.
“This, says John, is the beginning of blessedness! This is the choiceless choice when the soul can do nothing but surrender. Because even if you cannot sense a shred of the Beloved’s love for you, even if you can scarcely conjure up your old passion for him, it has become perfectly clear that you are incapable of doing anything on your own to remedy your spiritual brokenness. All efforts to purge your unspiritual inclinations have only honed the laser of attention on the false self. Unwilling to keep struggling, the soul finds itself surrendering to its deepest inner wound and breathing in the stillness there.
“The only action left to the soul, ultimately, is to put down its self-importance and cultivate a simple loving attention toward the Beloved. That’s when the Beloved takes over and all our holy intentions vaporize. That’s when the soul, says John, is infused passively with his love. Though his radiance is imperceptible to the faculty of the senses and invisible to the faculty of the intellect, the soul that has allowed itself to be empty can at last be filled and overflow with him.”  From Mirbai Starr’s introduction to her translation of Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross

St Augustine in his ‘Confessions’ wrote: about God and self.It’s comforting to know that others have gone through these dark times in their lives and have come through!  We need to surrender ourselves and realise that we can’t control our lives, or God, we then deepen our relationship with the God who loves us just as we are.  Sometimes, I believe God can come when we least expect it.

“You were within, but I was without.

You were with me, but I was not with you.

So you called, you shouted, you broke thru’

my deafness, you flared, blazed, and banished

my blindness, you lavished your fragrance,

and I gasped.”

May your relationship with God deepen as you surrender your whole selves to God’s Love.

The Lord be with you.