“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”
The book of James is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Filled with small bits of wisdom, this book offers significant and practical ways to live out our faith. The book of James is much like the book of Proverbs. It offers real-world teaching on ways to live out our daily lives; ways that positively reflect our faith.
There are few things more tangible to the practical living of our faith than how we speak to one another. James was aware of this and dedicates more of his writing to how we speak than just about any other subject. In the first chapter, James makes it clear that people of faith should be, “quick to listen and slow to speak”…
The situation at Southwood High School was serious. The school was becoming known for having a violent culture. Suddenly, the fights stopped, and no more arrests were made. It was not because more police were sent to the campus. It was not because more staff were cracking down. It is because a group of men from the community organized and began volunteering in the school.
They call themselves “Dads on Duty.”
Recently, St. Luke’s was once again honored to host the ordination worship service for the Oklahoma Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. It is truly a powerful and moving worship service. The music, the singing, and the prayers all seem to be especially strong. The beauty of the sanctuary and the gathering of Methodists from across the state make for a wonderful setting. It was especially wonderful this year because it had been two years, because of COVID, since we gathered for this service. For me, it was both a powerful worship service and a family reunion.
Of the many disciples who followed Jesus, John is thought to have been one of the youngest. Early in his ministry, John was brash and somewhat arrogant. Later, as he grew in his faith and relationship with Jesus, John changed. He became a leader and teacher of the faith. He is thought to have written much of our Holy Bible. John led the early church to deeper faith in Christ Jesus. He pushed the young church to live out the teaching of Jesus that we, “Love one another.”
Some of John’s later story was told by the historian Jerome in the early 300s. Jerome recalls that in John’s old age, he would be brought into gatherings. Barely able to stand and speak, John would be helped to his feet to teach the church…
It was not long after the fall of Israel that the southern kingdom of Judah was attacked and conquered by the Babylonians. In 588 BC, the Holy City of Jerusalem was captured, and the temple of the Lord was destroyed. It appears the promise of God was disappearing from the earth. God’s people were scattered, the land promised to Abraham and Moses was occupied, and the house of God was in ruins.
It was during this time that God raised up several people to remind everyone of the faithfulness of God, and to call God’s people to faithfulness themselves. One of these unique people was the prophet, Ezekiel…
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.”
I recently read about a beautiful, small engagement that became a big event. Hector Mkansi and Nonhlanhla Soldaat had been together for over 10 years. They were married after just one year of dating. They were young, with little money, and got married in a very simple ceremony. However, Hector and Nonhlanhla often talked about a big celebration when they could afford to have the celebration of their dreams. Nonhlanhla was surprised when Hector surprised her at one of her favorite places to eat with a beautiful new ring and a re-engagement. He thought 10 years was the right time to celebrate. There in the Kentucky Fried Chicken in South Africa, the couple celebrated their love and with a beautiful re-proposal.
“The Lord bless you and keep you:
The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” – Numbers 6:24-26
In the book of Numbers, God shares a priestly blessing with Moses. God commands Moses to tell Aaron and his sons that this is how they are to bless the Israelites. This blessing reminds God’s people that God is present. God’s people are not alone. They are blessed by God’s presence and by the work that God will do among them. From the time of Moses to today, this blessing is often spoken among God’s people.
The most current setting that I experience the sharing of this scripture is with the youth group at St. Luke’s.