Worship Service – May 15, 2022

Scripture; Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18 and Psalm 24:1-6

Sermon Scripture; John 13:31-35

Message; “ The Pathway of Love.”

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

(1) The Lord said to Moses, (2) Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them:’Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
(9) When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. (10) Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.
(11) ‘Do not steal.”‘Do not lie.”‘Do not deceive one another.
(12) Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
(13) ‘Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him.”‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight.
(14) Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.
(15) ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
(16) ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.’Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.
(17) Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.
(18) ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

Psalm 24:1-6

(1) The earth is the Lord ‘s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
(2) for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
(3) Who may ascend the hill of the Lord ? Who may stand in his holy place?
(4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.
(5) He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.
(6) Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

John 13:31-35

(31) When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. (32) If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
(33) “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
(34) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (35) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Our gospel scripture from John 13, is a part of the record of the final Passover meal Jesus shared with his disciples. So as we read “When he was gone”, (vs.31) it’s talking about Judas. Judas slinks out the door and into the night, then Jesus’ first act is to turn that treachery into triumph. Jesus recognizes that as the door closes behind his betrayer, the way to the cross has now finally been fully opened. Judas’ act of betrayal is not the death of Jesus’ mission and ministry. Rather, it is the first step of a final triumphal march towards “glorification.”
The hour Jesus spoke of when the Son of Man will be glorified and through that action so will God be glorified “in him”. Not only does Jesus proclaim that it is time for this glorification process to be revealed; but, with Judas’ departure, this process is to begin, at once.
Remembering how we as children, celebrated Mother’s Day last week, here in John’s gospel, Jesus address his disciples as “My children”, suggesting that their incomprehension is due to an immaturity of faith. Like many mothers, Jesus tenderly reminds his remaining disciples of a truth he had already imparted to a wider audience of “Jews” (that is, the “chief priests and Pharisees” at the temple) that “Where I am going you cannot come” (7:33-34). The path to the cross and the glorification that will follow is not a mission these disciples can fulfill. It’s Jesus’ mission and his alone.
Their mission is given as a “new command” to “Love one another”(vs.34). Even as Jesus’ path to the completion of his mission leads now to the cross and “glorification,” the new mission for his disciple is to live out this “new command.”
This “new command” is not “new”. In Deuteronomy 6:4-6 it was given to God’s chosen people: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. In our scripture reading today, Leviticus 19:18, we read: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord”.
When we read those words, “I am the Lord” it’s a reminder of our Psalm 24:1 reading.”The earth is the Lord ‘s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
This “new command” is given to the disciples and explicitly insists that their and our attitudes become actions : “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (vv.34-35).
Jesus had set an example of doing, as he washed his disciple’s feet and commanded them to “do as I have done for you.”(John 13:15) Now as Jesus is about to set out for the cross he offers a “new command”, a commandment about “being.”
He proclaims that those who would be his disciples must not just “do,” but they must “love,” even as he has loved them. “Not just “doing,” not just “serving, is enough. Jesus’ disciples must be known by their loving. So as Jesus goes to a place where his disciples cannot follow he offers them a new path to follow. “The Pathway of Love.”
So how do we as Christians, as His “children”, as His disciples follow this pathway of love? Let me start by telling you a quick story.
During a meeting of a parish stewardship committee, members viewed a thirty-second video clip taken in the monkey house of a local zoo. The zookeeper placed some “monkey delicacies” (banana bits, lettuce, and others) into a plastic container with a very tiny opening. Then she put the bottle on a table and left the room. Soon, one of the monkeys slowly approached the container, reached carefully inside, and grasped a large handful of treats. Unfortunately, with its fist full of food, the monkey was unable to remove its hand from the container. The monkey would first shake the container; then vigorously pound it on the table. This happened time after time, monkey after monkey. After a training session, the monkeys learned that the only way they could get their hands free was to let go of the food. The only way they could receive any food was to dump the contents of the bottle on the table, in the middle of the other hungry monkeys who were observing. The only way for a monkey to taste the gourmet food was to share it with others.
The lesson here is for all of us; a lesson that is clearly demonstrated in our reading in Leviticus. Moses addressed the people in the wilderness, describing God’s will for faithful and holy sharing “The Pathway to Love.
Pay attention here, the key to unlock the meaning in this text is who God is and not what we do. We see this in God’s first words to the people. “.. You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).
The gathered congregation of Israel can be holy because God is holy … not because of what they do. They can do holy things … sharing with the poor and weak, loving their neighbor, living at peace within their families — because God is holy and they are already God’s holy people. Because they are God’s holy people, they can unclench greedy fists that grasp all of God’s blessings for themselves and share their abundance with others.
The words of Leviticus remind us that because God has made us his holy people through our baptism into Christ Jesus, we can also do holy things. Holy, ethical behavior is not only a consequence of God’s love for us; it is an authentic demonstration of God’s love for us and for all creation. Holy behavior is “The Pathway to Love”, not to ourselves, but to the holy and loving God.
Consider this. At noon one Thanksgiving day, six-year-old Felicia was helping a large group of church folks who were serving dinner at a local shelter for homeless families. When Felicia placed a still-steaming dinner roll on one man’s plate, he asked her why she was there and not at home on Thanksgiving.
Wise beyond her years, Felicia declared, “My granddaddy says that Thanksgiving day should be a holy day for everybody, and we should make sure to show it! Now keep moving. Somebody else needs a roll!”
Now, that’s what holiness looks like. Holy deeds might actually speak at least as loudly as holy words. Keep moving, someone else needs a roll. That almost sounds like a mission statement, doesn’t it?
God made us holy in order that God’s holy love is made visible to others.
The writer of 1 Peter states it like this: “… you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus charges his followers: “… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
You see, it’s not about what we do, or even fail to do; it’s about what God has done, is doing, and has promised to continue to do.
We are to follow “The Pathway of Love”. To be holy because God made us holy through the gift of his own Son. Jesus calls upon Christians to let our light shine before others because, through him, we have been given God’s own holy light. Jesus “new command” is to follow,”The Pathway of Love”, just as He did.
In our Leviticus text, 19:9-18, we find the Do’s and Don’ts of ”The Pathway of Love”. And it’s important to remember that these folks examine what the laws and teachings of a society prohibit in order to develop a picture of what people were actually doing. In other words, they first examine the “don’ts” before they could describe a reason for the “do’s.”
Think about the “don’ts” in our society, our schools, our workplace, our families, or even our congregations. Don’t break the speed limit. Don’t talk in class. Don’t play computer games during working hours. Don’t throw your dirty clothes on the floor. Don’t park your car in the preacher’s space. Each “don’t” describes actual behavior or it would not be prohibited. I’m sure you can think of many more examples.
We can see in our reading of Leviticus, what behaviors were actually happening among God’s people. Owners of farms and vineyards were harvesting all of their crops, reaping to the very edges of [their] field (Leviticus 19:9). They would strip [their] vineyards bare gathering even the fallen grapes for themselves (Leviticus 19:10).
Others were guilty of stealing, dealing falsely, speaking lies, and using God’s name to justify phony promises in order to defraud others (Leviticus 19:11-12). Some were holding back wages from laborers who had expected to be paid at the end of each day’s work. Still others took advantage of the deaf and blind (Leviticus 19:13-14). Injustice, slander, family grudges, and favoritism were commonplace (Leviticus 19:15-18).
Doesn’t this sound a lot like the monkeys with their fists filled with food and trapped inside the plastic container? Doesn’t this also reflect what we see in our society, even among Christians today? What does our own plastic container look like? What do we grasp so tightly in our clenched fists that prevents us from holy living, following “The Pathway to Love”?
Holy living is summarized in our text by stating: “… You shall love your neighbor as yourself …” (Leviticus 19:18). Here are some examples of open handed, holy living from today’s lesson:
Sharing your food supply with the poor and the alien (Leviticus 19:10).
Speaking the truth and dealing fairly with all persons regardless of their social status (Leviticus 19:11-16).
Making peace with friends, and family members with whom you hold a grudge (Leviticus 19:17-18).
In our text, the neighbor is not simply a peer, or one who shares our lifestyle and value system. The neighbor includes those who are shunned by society, those on the margins. Those whom we are likely to forget.
When we show partiality to certain groups, when we carry longstanding grudges and prejudice, we not only wound others, we also wound our own souls. Everyone is wounded, not just the intended objects of our private grudges and selfishness.
When we keep our fists tightly clenched around God’s gifts, no one can share God’s blessings. How we relate to all God’s children reveals a measure of faithfulness to God.
Holy living, following “The Pathway of Love, is really tough! Loving our neighbor as ourselves is next to impossible! That is, if we think we can do this alone. Look at the text again. God says that indeed holy lives are possible. Why? “… For I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). It’s not about our actions. It’s about God’s promised love.
Because God has made us his children through baptism into Christ, we are able to unclench our fists and release God’s gifts to others. Because God’s own Son died for us and for all people, we are able to love others who also “need a roll.”
Let’s keep moving. Somebody else needs a roll. Amen.
In His service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20220515
Listen To Audio: Service 05152022
Call to Worship:

L:  Into your presence we come, God of Grace and Peace,

P:  who was, and is and ever shall be the eternal One.

L:  Into fellowship we come, bound together in the love

P:  that died and rose again for us, our Savior Jesus Christ


Prayer of Confession:  God of the clean and the unclean, we too easily think we can see from your point of view.  We think we are justified because we are made holy by your LOVE, and we assume holiness means more like us.   We forget, or never really knew, that all you touch is holy, and that you created all that is.  May we be made holy in truth, loving as you LOVE, clean and unclean alike.  Amen.




Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday Mornings from 10:30 to 12:30.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at 570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

Loose change goes to General Fund.

CareNet (Baby Bottle) goes one more week until May 22nd.

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Choir practice will be on Thursday at 9:00 A.M. 

Primary Election Day is May 17th.

Montrose Adult School presents:  The History of the Franklin Hill Presbyterian Church May 17th at 7:00 P.M.  Registration $5.00.

Men’s Breakfast Wednesday May 18th at 8:00 A.M.

Session will meet on Saturday, May 21st, at 9 A.M.

Newsletter Deadline – Tuesday, May 31st, 2022.

If anyone has a family member graduating from nursery school to college, or in the service, please let Carolyn White know, so we can announce in the June newsletter.

Please mark your envelope if you are contributing to the piano repair fund.


Comments are closed.