I’m bad a podcasts. There are several really great podcasts that I really wish I could get behind, but I’m just bad at it. I’m good at reading articles. I’m great at watching TV. I’m awful at listening to podcasts. Everytime I start one, within 9 seconds, I’m off somewhere else reading about things that annoy type a personalities or finding some other unnecessary distraction.
I tell you this to confess that though I love Holli and Brendan and the work they do with Acts 8 and The Collect Call, I don’t listen to it every week because I’m just bad at podcasts. I will, however, tune in this week because I love, love, love the Collect for Proper 25.
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Make us love what you command. I can’t wait to hear what they Collect Call has to say about that. See, the coolest part about that prayer is that, in the end, we’re asking God to make us love the commandment to love: to love love; how awesome is that? Matthew says that the Pharisees ask Jesus this final question to “test” him, but I think that’s just because Matthew is ticked off at the Pharisees. I think that they ask Jesus about the greatest commandment because over the past few days of conflict, they’ve come to respect him in the same way Troy Polomalu might respect Peyton Manning. Rather than testing Jesus, I like to think that they are genuinely interested in what this Rabbi from the sticks has to say about the greatest commandment.
Jesus does not disappoint. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. The greatest commandment is quite simply, love.
And so, when we, two thousand years later, pray that God might help us love what God commands, we’re not asking to love the regulations against eating shellfish or the wearing of cotton-poly blends; we’re not asking to love laws about sexual purity and the place of women in society; we’re not asking to love not eating bacon or swearing oaths. Instead, we’re asking God to help us love love, and we need God’s help because the stark reality is that love isn’t easy. It can be hard to love God when things don’t go your way. It can be even harder to love God when everything is coming up Milhouse.
And don’t get me started on how hard it is to love other people: liars, cheaters, close talkers, over sharers, bad drivers, even meeting extenders. Maybe I don’t like this Collect so much after all. I mean, asking God to help me love loving these people is asking for the hard work of cleaning out the sinfulness and selfishness in my own life to make room for others. That seems pretty dangerous. Of course, it all seems like exactly what God has in mind for us.