Services by Rev'd Chris during church closure

Sunday 21st June Service

 

Matthew 10:24-39

Today I want to talk to you about love triangles. They are the life blood of many good films, novels and soap operas. Its about two love interests, knowingly or unknowingly, are competing with each other and vying for the time, attention, energy and love of the third person.

One of my favourites can be found in that 1942 film Casablanca. The plot centres on the beautiful Ilsa (played by Laren Bacall) who arrives in Casablanca with her husband, Victor Laslow, a renown Czech resistance leader and they meet up with the embittered local café owner Rick.

Rick and Ilsa have, to use the modern idiom, ‘previous’.

 The films explores the tension of Ilsa’s love of two men set amongst the dark undercurrents of the war.

Does Ilsa flee with Victor to continue the important freedom fight? Does she succumb to her passion and stay with Rick? The film is awash with conflicts of duty, love, honour, and responsibility. Its about difficult choices.

Love triangles are not always conscious decisions – but rather circumstances that force people to make uncomfortable choices, sometimes against their will.

And so it is in our reading. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy on me.”

I can hear you saying “Hang on! That’s a bit strong isn’t it? Jesus OR my parents? Jesus OR my children?”

Every love triangle confronts us with two questions; What is your most important relationship? Whom do you love the most?

After hearing Jesus’s words it’s not difficult to work out the right answer – but what is our ‘lived’ answer?

I want to answer that my lived answer is Jesus. I would love to say with confidence that Jesus is the most important relationship in my life. The one I love the most. But regardless of what I’d like to thank or say, does the evidence in my life show that?

What about my wife, Melanie? I swore oaths to her forty years ago that meant something. Am I now side-lining her?

If I look at my diary I’m not sure I spend as much time attending to Jesus as I do to other things that take up my time.

If I look at my finances I’m not sure Jesus looks like my top priority.

We are given a couple of examples but it could have been much longer. What about;

Whoever loves friend more than me is not worthy of me.

Whoever loves work more than me is not worthy of me.

Whoever loves power, wealth or reputation more than me is not worthy of me.

Whoever loves country and flag more than me is not worthy of me.

Whoever loves politics, agendas or ideologies more than me is not worthy of me.

Whoever loves themselves more than me is not worthy of me.

Whoever loves anyone or anything more than me is not worthy of me.

Our gospel today holds up for us a living reality. We have to make a choice. We cannot sit on the fence on this one.

Must we reject our families, our parents and our children? No. That isn’t what Jesus is asking.

Jesus isn’t demanding exclusivity – but he is demanding priority.

Jesus isn’t just another one of our love interests.

We can only have one primary relationship; and that relationship gives us meaning and direction. It becomes the lens through which we can build our lives. Its becomes our rock; our foundation.  It guides the choices we make, the words we say and the ways we act and respond to others. It determines how we love.

So how do we make Jesus a priority without causing hurt or offence?  The reality is that when we love God we are able to love others better. No one is left out. No one is excluded or rejected because God becomes the source and origin of our love.

I want to love all the things I do and to the best of my ability and with all of my heart – but we must recognise that it is only possible for us to do that if we choose to put Jesus first.

Amen.