Sometimes, it feels like all the world is against you. Everyone is cursing, hating, or abusing you. Nothing is working out the way you want, and all the powers are conspiring against you.

Sometimes, this is really the case. When that happens, Jesus has difficult but important advice for us. Love those people anyway. The ones who are cursing, hating, or abusing you – they are still beloved children of God, and deserving of love.

DSCN1997.jpgThough, Jesus also tells us that he has come so that we might have life, and have it abundantly. And if someone’s hateful attitude towards us is preventing us from living an abundant life, I can’t imagine that Jesus really expects us to continue in relationship with that person. First, we must heal ourselves. Then, when we have enough grace to spare, we can love our enemy, and invite them also to join us in this abundant life.

Even when we are being battered by unhealthy people in our daily lives, we can abide by the second command in Jesus’ teaching today. Do not judge. We never know what someone else is going through. We cannot know the fullness of their reality. So don’t judge. In my opinion, this is one of the most important commands that Jesus ever makes. Judgment is not our place. Leave that up to God, and just love people, as best as you can.

The Revised Common Lectionary offers other readings for this week. Are you bold enough to address Paul’s description of the resurrection of the dead in 1 Corinthians 15? For a community grieving the loss of a key member, this passage could be particularly meaningful.

Genesis recounts a story more full of grace than most of us can imagine. Years after his brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph offers them not only forgiveness, but blessing and food and live for the remaining years of the famine. His invitation eventually leads to their enslavement, but no one could have predicted that at the time – all they knew was that the brother they had wronged choose to invite them in to life. Could you be as gracious as Joseph?

Today’s Psalm could easily relate to the themes in any of the other RCL readings. It is also worth preaching on its own. “Refrain from anger and do not be provoked.” I wonder how our global news headlines might look different if we all heeded this advice! Most of us find it difficult not to be provoked. How might you encourage your congregation in this spiritual discipline?

Wherever the lectionary is taking you this week, blessings in your preaching. Please share any ideas for sermons, children’s times, liturgy, or other worship ideas below. Wishing you all the best in your preparations for worship!


Katya Ouchakof is an ELCA pastor in Madison, WI. She and her husband are currently binge-watching Star Trek: Voyageur. They are open to suggestions of what to watch next…


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9 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Love Your Enemies Edition

  1. Katya, seriously, Voyager? If you haven’t watched Deep Space Nine, make that your next binge. I think it ran seven seasons, so you can binge for quite awhile. Lots of good vs. evil, fundamentalist vs. open/progressive issues explored…none of which involve “Christianity” by name, but you know what they’re talking about.

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    1. DS9 was our last binge show! And we had already watched The Next Generation. So we opted for Voyageur over the original series. On a related note, are you watching The Orville? Great new Star Trek – ish show 🙂

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  2. I haven’t watched any Star Trek Voyager for several years. We just finished binge-watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime. I used some of season 2 episode 1 in last week’s sermon. This week I’m preaching on Luke – love your enemies. I’m going to reread some of the Eric Metaxas Bonhoeffer book in which he talks about Bonhoeffer’s struggle as a pacifist deciding to go back to Germany to join the resistance. Thinking there might be some illustrative potential there. Also thinking about those among us who have found peace in forgiving an abusive spouse after the divorce. So many hard situations that relate to this scripture reading. Having a hard time not just staring out the window, as it’s snowing like crazy, the most we’ve had since I moved to Kansas two years ago, and the most they’ve had here in quite a few years according to the natives.

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    1. The personal experience of forgiveness sounds like a powerful angle. I can even see a potential parallel between Bonhoeffer & Germany and a dysfunctional marriage. I trust that you’ll avoid making it sound like a person should stay in an abusive relationship and forgive the ongoing abuse. The “forgive and remember and never go back” can sometimes be way more healing than “forgive and forget.”

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  3. Yes, this is far from being black and white. We have experienced the need to leave abusive relationships in our own family and in this church. A big part of the healing has been forgiving and finding where to draw safe boundaries. There are so many levels to this subject. The hardest part might be doing justice to the topic and text within the time constrictions of a sermon while not being too redactive.

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  4. My husband and I just watched the first seven seasons of Game of Thrones, graphic but really good. Can’t wait for Season 8. Have you watched the Stargage Series? I loved Stargate Universe. I am a little intimidated by the texts this week. Powerful but it is too easy to invite people to forgive without taking into account all the power dynamics involved in relationship.

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  5. This quote from Goethe that I just heard in a Positive Youth Development training workshop today really resonates with the Luke text for me. I hope you find it as inspirational as I did.

    “I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

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