Pre-recorded Service from Cyncoed Methodist Church led by Rev Kofi Amissah, Preacher – ‘Beware Of The Man With No Clothes – Who Comes To Offer You His Shirt’.
Please see link below and the attached reflection from Rev Stephen Wigley:
BEWARE OF THE MAN WITH NO CLOTHES – WHO COMES TO OFFER
YOU HIS SHIRT
Text: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and
with all your mind…‘Love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39)
Reading: Matthew 22:34-40
Hymn: Christ, from whom all blessings flow (StF 676)
It is good to be able to share this message with you; in these uncertain times to affirm
our faith in God, and at a time when so many plans are changing to trust in God’s
unchanging love. This Sunday is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary time but the truth is
there are no ‘ordinary’ times now! Our Bible readings take us right to the heart of our
faith, found here in Jesus’ summary of law and prophets; we are called to love God
with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbour as ourself.
It is worth noting that Jesus’ summary comes in response to a challenge, a tricky
question from a lawyer; moreover it follows a series of encounters where the scribes
and pharisees are trying to catch Jesus out (on collaboration with the Romans (Is it
lawful to pay tax to Caesar?) and understanding of resurrection.)
It is also worth noting that Jesus’ response is to quote from the Hebrew Scriptures,
from the Torah; the commandment to love God AND to love your neighbour are both
found in the book of Leviticus, chapter 19. Jesus’ summary is taken right from the
heart of Jewish faith and tradition from which he came. This is important, because
sometimes there is a suggestion that the Law as set out in the Old Testament is all
about loving and worshiping God and it is Jesus who comes to ‘add’ the love of
neighbour. This is not true; both are equally important also in the Jewish faith.
Now in Matthew’s Gospel, this question is followed by a discussion about authority,
in particular a debate about whether Jesus is the Messiah. It takes a complex
theological turn in terms of discussing the interpretation of Psalm 2; ‘You are my
Son, today I have begotten you…’ and it is not an easy one to follow. However, in
Luke’s account, this exchange is followed by a story; in response to a lawyer wanting
to justify himself by asking the tricky question ‘Who is my neighbour?’ Jesus goes on
to tell story of Good Samaritan.
The truth is that both commandments are very practical; for loving God is not just
about keeping the law, reading the Bible, and attending worship; it’s also about
loving and cherishing all the things dear to God. It means if God is loving, faithful
and just, so should we be; we should care for God’s justice to prevail, live out the importance of truth-telling and integrity, show in our lives the importance of love and compassion.
And though it is often forgotten, there is also a third person to be found in Jesus’
summary. He reminds us that ‘You shall love God (with all your heart, soul and
mind) and ‘You shall love your neighbour as YOURSELF’.
To love God and our neighbour, also means that we need to have a proper care and
concern for OURSELVES. I wonder if sometimes, especially in these pressurised
uncertain days, some of us can find this hard; we can struggle to love and cherish
ourselves as those who are loved and redeemed by God in Christ.
Sometimes we can divert all our attention onto pressing issues & other people but
ignore our own need for grace. I recall an apocryphal West African proverb told by
the celebrated poet and performer Maya Angelou which goes like this: ‘BEWARE
OF THE MAN WITH NO CLOTHES – WHO COMES TO OFFER YOU HIS
For me, that proverb stands alongside Jesus’ teaching; for it reminds us that we too
are part of the economy of grace; that the God who calls us to love him and cherish all that he has made, also wants us to love ourselves, because only then will we be
able to love and care for our neighbour as Jesus calls us to do. Amen.