Musings from the Manse 1 November 2020

Do you know, one of the problems I think we have today is that we are very good at talking about matters of importance but less good at actually taking action on them! You can see this in governments, charities and, yes, even in churches! We can talk endlessly about most subjects but actually taking decisions to act on them takes quite a long time. After the decision is taken it can still take some time before it is translated into action!

In this week’s lectionary reading (Matthew Ch 22 vs 34-46) we meet up again with the Pharisees – those holy leaders who were famed for discussing and debating the finer points of religious laws. Once again, they were trying to trap Jesus with their questions. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” This was their forte, they could debate and discuss the laws forever! There were 613 laws they could debate!! So, which one is the greatest? 

In a way, it was a game for them. They loved talking about the finer detail and they felt that it made them superior; they were holy people who knew the Torah! ‘Let’s see if this so-called teacher knows his stuff’ was their thought. He couldn’t possibly compete with their superior knowledge!

However, Jesus wasn’t for playing their game of talking about abstract things. He told them quite bluntly that love for God was the paramount commandment and from that came the second: that you should ‘love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets’ he said.

No messing around. No talking in abstractions – you must love God with everything you have – that means you listen to him at all times and follow his will. From that comes the second – if you love God you will love your neighbour. These are not abstract ideas but actions you must engage in. Basically, Jesus is saying that the time for talking is past and the time for action has come! That is the sting in the tail! Action is what is required, not endless talking. Perhaps a lesson for us today.

Jesus concludes this discussion by saying “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  This is interesting because the word used for “hang” is the same word that is used for “crucify.” Is he giving a hint of what is to come? He has a question for the Pharisees about the Messiah; “whose son is the Messiah?” he asks. The Pharisees give the stock answer; “the son of David” Jesus challenges their thinking by quoting Psalm 110 where David calls the Messiah “Lord.’ Jesus is taking time to point out to the Pharisees that the Messiah to come is both David’s son – true man – and David’s Lord – true God.

He was trying to show them that God would not come in the abstract but with skin on – in Christ Jesus. Jesus came to hang on a cross, to be crucified. On him hang all the law and the prophets. He came to fulfil them by loving God, not in the abstract, but with his very life. He came down as love incarnate – love that would bleed for his neighbours; love, not in the abstract, but prepared to be broken in reality on a cross.

The bible study that I am following at present is looking at 1 John. This week I came across a verse that is a commentary on this act of Jesus on the cross. It said,  ”in this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be an atoning sacrifice” Love is found in God before it is found anywhere else. Our love is part of God’s love.

Christianity is a religion of love (believe it or not!) – first of all, God’s love and the giving of love through the cross of Christ. As we receive that love from Christ by faith then we must let it become a power in our lives. As Jesus was God with skin on then we have to become love with skin for our communities, wherever we are in the circuit. That is our calling.

This is the perfect time for us to give some thought to this. The prospect of a time of new ministry should make us want to show our gratitude to God for his love by going out to others to spread that love. You may have been described in various ways down through the years but I wonder if you have ever been described as ‘love with skin on’ Well, no time like the present, and in these particular circumstances of a pandemic, to earn just such a reputation.

The old song states “love changes everything” and that is true. God’s love for us changed the whole of history when Jesus – God with skin on – came to die on the Cross then rise again to new life. Let our love, which is part of God’s love, strive to bring change for good to this our community. Let’s not just talk about it, let’s take action to show it!


Lord of us all, Lord of David, David’s son
God before creation and from age to age ever since
We acknowledge your love that makes us sing for joy.

You knew Moses face to face
You filled him with the spirit of wisdom
And trusted him with the ten Commandments, 
Which, in essence, were two
The first to love you with all our heart and soul and mind
The second to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.

Yet we do not always love ourselves,
And even when we try to love our neighbours, we occasionally find ourselves seeking revenge, cherishing a grudge and nursing our disapproval.

Lord, how far we are from total love for you, our Saviour
We know what we should do in our service for you, yet sometimes, we lack the spirit to put it into action.

Loving Father, show us that your gospel is of love and peace and inspire us to take it out to others.
In these ways we change the world for the better
Lord inspire us to become active because of your love


Rev Nik Wooller

1st Nov 2020

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