Sunday’s Scripture ~ Mark 12:28-34
Have you ever watched a reunion between family members or close friends? The likes of a person or group being surprised by the return of a loved one at a football game or running across an airport terminal to embrace?
I experienced one of those moments this past week. A mother and dear friend from Andrew’s last church invited us to attend the Hillsong United concert with her, another parent from the youth program, and 25 or so of our former students. The students – they didn’t know we were coming. So as we gathered outside the CFE Arena at UCF one student after the next came out of the parking lot, identified the agreed upon meeting spot, and upon seeing us, ran as fast as they could to embrace each of us as hard as they could. One of the girls even ran towards us while wearing an air-cast on her foot! We love and admire your enthusiasm, Kelli, but we want your foot to heal!!
Each embrace restored my soul. Each embrace filled my cup. Each embrace reminded me what matters most.
Relationships. Caring relationships.
Some of my most formative relationships growing up and continuing to today are are with my youth group leaders. These folks are some of the first people outside of my family that saw me for me. They identified my gifts. They nurtured my call. They encouraged my curiosity and wondering about the mystery of God.
I am so grateful for these relationships. Because of them I looked forward – and look forward! – to sharing these kind of relationships with young adults. God made an impression on me through the hands of my counsellors and I am humbled by the opportunities to make God’s impressions on the young men and women I serve.
In our Scripture passage this week Jesus identifies how we are to act in the – in our – ultimate caring relationship – by loving the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. And then Jesus instructs us in how we are to make impressions on one another – by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.
We are so loved by God. God’s love shapes us. God’s hands by way of God’s love are literally all over us. God is constantly running towards us, reuniting with us, and welcoming us home. Whether we have moved away from God or God has moved and asks us to follow, whole and holy relationship with God remains our goal. And we grow in whole and holy relationship with God by leaning into and modeling whole and holy relationships with our neighbors.
I believe that each time we participate in a reunion with a loved one – whether we have been apart for a day, a decade, or what feels like a decade – when we feel that embrace, when we fill our cups, we feel God’s loving impression upon us through the hands of our neighbors. Sharing God’s loving impression with others draws us deeper into relationship with one another and with God, which truly centers us on what matters most.
Prayer: “I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat what seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet. I love to tell the story, for some have never heard the message of salvation from God’s own holy Word. I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.”* Amen.
*”I Love to Tell the Story,” The United Methodist Hymnal 156.