Kindness in the White House

by | Oct 29, 2017 | Sermons

Matthew 22:34-40

Which Commandment is the Greatest

{Invite Children Forward.}
How do you show love to somebody? {Children give answers}
But love isn’t always doing what somebody thinks they want is it? Can you think of a time when somebody who loves you does something you don’t want them to do? {Children give answers}
How do people react when you show them you love them?
I’ve been reading a book called ‘who thought this was a good idea’ by Alyssa Mastromonaco. She was one of President Obama’s top aides from when he first joined the Senate and was his Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations for the first 5 years of his presidency. She wrote the book particularly to encourage young women into politics, but gives various bits of advice. She clearly had a lot of authority while she worked in the White House – telling Generals when they could do what, coordinating relief efforts in Haiti and New York. What is striking is the importance she places on kindness, on encouraging people rather than threatening them. But then perhaps it is obvious, on one level, that you can get more out of people by being kind to them. The role of a parent is to unconditionally love the person who is your child. So that no matter what they do, you carry on loving them. The security of knowing that we are loved is what gives us the hope that we can make things right, even when we know we have made mistakes.

In Today’s Gospel, Jesus is challenged, the Pharisees are trying to catch him out again – they are trying to trick him – just like last week with the coin. This week they ask which is the greatest commandment. Jesus goes to a section of the Bible sometimes called the Shema (translated Hear) – from Deuteronomy Chapter 6. It’s like a Jewish Creed, and following it’s very words, some Jews will recite it each morning and each time they leave the house, and you may see in a Jewish home a scroll attached to the doors, in which a copy of the Shema will be there to remind them that this is what they believe. But Jesus doesn’t stop there, because again and again in the Old Testament God tells his people that to love him is to care for those in need. And so Jesus refers to Leviticus 19 where it says ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

Who is your neighbour? {Ask the Children}
Is it easy to love a stranger? Is it easy to love somebody who is angry with you? Is it easy to love somebody you don’t really like?

One of the readings we had this morning was from a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church at a place called Thessalonica. He was saying to them that even though you might not be treated very well – people may not be nice to you. You need to live the life Jesus calls you to – you need to love one another. By setting an example of loving one another, Paul says, that he showed them the Good News and taught them about Jesus. They too must love one another.

How off-putting it would be for somebody who is being aggressive and mean
to have a response of kindness and love.
By responding to others with love,
we can transform the situation.

One of the projects I studied while I was in college was a food pantry in San Francisco at a church called St Gregory of Nyssa.

There they open their doors to 1000 families each Friday who come and take whatever food they need and they can carry. The food is provided by various means and made available in the body of the church around the Altar. It is an act of love for their community and comes without any strings attached. But many of the people who needed food at one time, now come back and volunteer and help to provide food and care for others. The volunteers eat together and share the Eucharist each week as they have become a community..
The love they showed their community transformed the people in it – and the community itself. To keep on loving and caring for others.

As we go forward, it is important to always be open to seeing how, as a community we can demonstrate our love for God, for one another, and for this community, responding to the needs people have, and transforming those around us through the Love of Christ.

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams