Summary: A sermon about love.
A headline on the front page of the paper this past Tuesday caught my eye.
It read: "Bomb Suspects Driven by Faith."
It went on to say: "The two brothers suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon appear to have been motivated by their religious faith."
Another article in that same paper told about two outbursts the older brother had at a mosque in Cambridge.
The first outburst came in November, just before Thanksgiving.
"a preacher gave a sermon saying it was appropriate for Muslims to celebrate American holidays."
At that, the suspect is said to have, "stood up and argued that 'celebration of any holiday was not allowed in the faith.'"
The article went on to say, "In January" there was a similar outburst.
"This time, the sermon included praise for Martin Luther King, Jr., and this time" the older of the suspected bombers, "shouted, calling the preacher a 'non-believer' and 'hypocrite' who was 'contaminating people's minds.'"
In report after report on the television we have heard that the older brother--especially--had become more and more "religious" over the past couple of years.
And this is not cited as a "positive thing."
I recently finished reading a memoir written by Lauren Drain; Lauren is a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church.
The Book is entitled: Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church.
The church has been made famous by their picketing of military funerals.
They hold signs that say "God Hates You."
They even picket other churches.
And they get a lot of press coverage.
They are considered to be a "hate group," and they love this title.
The reason is that they truly believe God hates everyone in the world, except maybe their small church of a couple dozen people.
They also believe God has called them to tell the world how much God hates them.
And they don't do this in order to convert anyone.
They are strict Calvinists, which means they believe that God "predestines" certain people to be saved (which would be them) and everyone else is condemned to hell no matter what they do.
They hold these pickets because they believe they are supposed tell people how much God hates them.
End of story.
And they are a "religious group."
They are even "tax exempt."
Their faith is their excuse for "hating people."
The persons who slammed the planes into the towers of the World Trade Center Towers on 9-11 thought they were doing the will of God.
You might say, "They were very religious."
What other things are done in the name of religion, in the name of God?
We could stay here all day listing them.
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning, Jesus said to His disciples and to us: "I give you a new commandment: Love each other.
Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.
This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other."
How are you doing at that?
How am I doing?
Do people know you are a Christian simply by the way you show them love?
James, the brother of Jesus, writes in James Chapter 2: "what good is if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it?
Claiming to have faith can't save anyone, can it?
Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat.
What if one of you said, 'Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!'
What good is it if you don't actually give them what their body needs?
In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn't result in faithful activity."
He goes on to say, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
What does blowing the legs off men, women and children have to do with taking care of widows and orphans?
It's making widows and orphans, is it not?
What does killing people have to do with love?
It's the exact opposite, is it not?
Last week, after the bombings in Boston, the Secretary of State said that the United States has been "confronted by pure evil."
And yet those suspected of doing the bombing, claim they were doing it because of their faith.
The members of Westboro Baptist Church tell people God hates them because of their faith.
And if we think this is something new, we ought to remember that those who hated Jesus, those who plotted to kill Him, those who demanded that Rome crucify Him were the Religious leaders.
And the reason?
He healed the sick on the Sabbath...which, according to their strict religious rules was illegal.