February 24, 2019–Beyond Enemies

Posted on February 19, 2019 by faithlens

Ellen Rothweiler, Des Moines, IA

Warm-up Question

What does it look like when you love your enemies? What words would you use to describe this kind of love? 

Beyond Enemies

The 61st Annual Grammy’s were held on Sunday, February 10 and Alicia Keys hosted the event. She opened the evening with a message of love and connection through music. She described music as “what we all love” and a “shared global language” and a way to “celebrate the greatness in each other”. On a night of competition, in a tough business, Keys reminded the room and all those watching of our shared humanity and that most of all we should share love. She invited other women on the stage with her, sharing the spotlight, to share what music has meant in their lives.

When the world tells us that a person or group of people are our competition, threatening our success and way of life, it is hard to love them. The nature of self-preservation is to defend what you have. In an industry of self-promotion it is essential to put oneself first to get ahead and employ others to help you do so. So, how bold and daring it is in room full of competitors for the priority set to be one of love and connection. 

Discussion Questions

  • What dreams do you have for the future? Share two with the group.
  • Who or what have you been told is in the way of your success?
  • Who or what can help you achieve these dreams?

Seventh Sunday after Epiphany 

Genesis 45:3-11, 15

1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50

Luke 6:27-38

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

This text includes what we often call the “golden rule,” “do to others as you would have them do to you”.  It also holds another nugget of morality at the beginning of verse 29, “turn the other cheek”. I don’t know about you but I have never fully understood what this means. Let people abuse you? Don’t fight back, don’t defend yourself? This may sound weak, but, in fact, it takes great strength and self-control not to respond to violence with violence. 

All of the directives given by Jesus in this passage can stand alone as a way of being in the world.  Each alone is difficult to follow and they are even more so when taken as a group. So, let’s just look at verses 27-28; “…love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” These two verses sum up the following verses. If you do these things, the others will follow. This is a bold and daring way of being in the world. It means seeing our “enemies” in a new way. The Message puts it this way; “To you who are ready for truth, I say this; Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.”

Discussion Questions

  • Where have you heard the golden rule- “ treat others how you want to be treated’  and “turn the other cheek” other than church?
  • How are these sayings helpful? How are they harmful? 
  • Who is an enemy that you can pray for and how can they bring out the best in you? 

Activity Suggestion

Look through your social media feeds and identify “enemies”. See them through the lens of love as described in Luke and as modeled by Alicia Keys. Pray for them and pray for the courage to love them. 

Closing Prayer

Source of  all love, it is so easy to demonize those who see the world differently from me, who hurt me, and who seem intent on harming those for whom I care.  Help me to see the fear and pain behind the acts of those I am tempted to dismiss as my enemies.  Give me the wisdom and the heart of Jesus to respond to them as he would, seeking to heal injury, bridge gaps, and transform foes into friends.  Amen.

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