Summary: PENTECOST 23 YEAR A - The will of God is "to Love God and Our Neighbors."
Do you find that there are times when you just have to ask ... why? Why do they call it a
TV set when you only have one? Why does your nose run and your feet smell? Why do doctors call what they do "practice?" Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii? Why is it that when you transport something by car, it’s called a shipment, but when you transport something by ship, it’s called cargo? Why isn’t the word "phonetic" spelled the way it sounds? Why do tugboats push their barges? And, last but not least, why do they put Braille dots on the keypad of the drive-up ATM? Sometimes you just have to ask ... why? A first year college student went to take his final exam in meteorology. The exam consisted of one essay question which read, “Why is the sky blue?” In answer to this essay question the student wrote the following,
“Ah...A two point question. As to the first point “Why?”
This is a question that has plagued scholars,
philosophers and theologians throughout the ages.
Who am I, a mere first year college student,
that I should attempt to answer this eternal
mystery. I must humbly submit that I do not
possess the divine wisdom to answer this first
But as to the second point, “Is the sky blue?”
The answer is “Yes”
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
WHY? That is the question that everyone asks at some time in their life. Often we ask, why is this happening to me, or why am I here. Hard questions. To put it simply, what is the meaning of life?---(Long pause) Or as the author of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe” puts it, what’s the answer to “Life, the Universe and Everything?” Do You have an answer to that question? The way you answer this question will determine how you live your life or even if you actually LIVE IT. For your definition of the meaning of life determines how you will then live your life. If you think life is something you endure until you die then that is how you will live. You will endure your existence until it’s finally over. If, on the other hand, you think life is a search for light and hope then you will live, and find light and hope.
A man named Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychologist, discovered this great truth in the midst of a Jewish concentration camp during WW II. While seeking to survive the horror of this imprisonment Frankl began observing his fellow prisoners in the hope of discovering what coping mechanism would help him endure this horrendous existence. What Frankl discovered was this...
Those individuals who could not accept what was happening to them, who could not make their present suffering fit with their faith, who could not find it’s meaning in their world view... they despaired, lost hope, and eventually gave up and died. But those individuals that could find a meaning from their faith, were then able to find hope for a future beyond their present suffering, and so could accept what they were enduring as a part of their existence, and they survived.
So what is the meaning of life? If you don’t have an answer The world will be quick to supply you with one. A bumper sticker proclaims "The one who dies with the most toys wins!" or "Go for the Gusto." For many in the military it’s “Eat, Drink and be Merry, for tomorrow you may die.” But in light of evil events like Ethnic Cleansing, Columbine High School and the Baptist Church in Texas, these reasons for living seem hollow and vain. And we must ask ourselves, are we offering our children a faith that gives meaning to life, a faith that is worth dying for ... or simply a life that’s not worth living? In light of all the evil and the good that is in our world, how is one to discover the meaning to this life? A meaning that can help us face all that comes our way?
THE JEWISH ANSWER
Back in Jesus’ day there were two religious groups that both claimed to know how to find the meaning to life. As good Jews, as the people of God, they turned to the scripture to answer that question. The first answer was supplied by the Sadducees and the second by the Pharisees . The Sadducees took the conservative approach to the scripture. They said that if it isn’t in the Laws of Moses it doesn’t matter. The result was that they preserved the message that came down to them, but they were too rigid and couldn’t adapt to change. They didn’t even consider the words of prophets like Amos and Isaiah to be binding. Even so, that approach left them with 613 laws to remember and follow every day to do God’s will. If you asked one of them what the will of God was they would say, "Here are 613 laws memorize them."