Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Religion of the Heart

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 -- Week of 3 Easter
Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, Prophetic Witness, 1760
To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 960)
Psalms 26, 28 (morning)       36, 39 (evening)
Daniel 4:28-37
1 John 4:7-21
Luke 4:31-37

How appropriate that on the first observation of the proposed feast of Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, we read this passage from 1 John.  Zinzendorf practiced a "religion of the heart," based on a deep devotion to Jesus and a commitment to live in love toward all others.  He was an ecumenist in a time of profound religious conflict, raising an ethic of love and a common devotion to Jesus above the dogmatic differences between denominations.  He welcomed many who had been expelled from their own churches and helped form the Moravian Church, one of the few denominations that emphasizes a code of Christian behavior over specific doctrines or beliefs.  Their motto is, "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love."  The Episcopal Church and the Moravian Church entered into mutual agreements of full communion last year.

One of Zinzendorf's hymns sums up his view of the church.
    Christian hearts, in love united,
    seek alone in Jesus rest;
    has he not your love excited?
    Then let love inspire each breast.

    Members on our Head depending,
    lights reflecting him, our Sun,
    brethren -- his commands attending,
    we in him, our Lord are one.

And so we hear today from the First Epistle of John:

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.  God's love was revealed among us in this way:  God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live though him.  ...Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

...God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them...  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear."

This emphasis on the centrality of love reflects Jesus own life and teaching.  When asked to summarize the scriptures -- the Law and the Prophets -- Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."  On the night before he died, he gave his disciples the new commandment, "Love one another."  First John reminds us that "everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." 

Tomorrow another disciple of love will visit us here in Fayetteville.  The Dalai Lama will be here to speak at a panel discussion in the morning and to offer an address in the afternoon.  The Dalai Lama has been a strong proponent of interfaith dialogue and respect.  At the core of his teaching is a radical commitment to compassion, a particularly compelling expression of love. 

Compassion and love are principles that lie at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions.  Every enduring religion and every significant humanistic ethical tradition has some expression of the Golden Rule at the heart of its teaching -- to treat others as we would wish to be treated.  (The only exceptions that come to mind are narrow tribalistic ethics and the aggressively individualistic teaching of Ayn Rand, now gaining a renewed following in some political circles.)

1 John goes so far as to assert more than once that "God is love."  When we recognize the presence of love in any context, we are seeing evidence of the presence of God.  Christians recognize the God the Holy Spirit manifest in loving lives such as the Buddhist Dalai Lama, the Hindu Gandhi, and the Moslem poet Rumi.  We see in them God manifest as love, speaking from another culture and tradition. 

As Christians, we see God's love supremely manifest in the human life of Jesus, who loved extravagantly, beyond the barriers of nationality, race, or creed.  He is our example of generous, radical compassion.  Nicolaus Zinzendorf found inspiration for his own life of love by nurturing an active and deeply personal devotion toward Jesus and by the practice of an imitation of Jesus' life.  A devotion to Jesus and a commitment to love was at the heart of his piety and of his movement. 

A commitment to love and compassion is a good focus for all of us, from whatever philosophy or faith tradition.



Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html --  Click for Divine Hours

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to http://lowellsblog.blogspot.com, or click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 12:40 AM, Anonymous ocean freight said...

Hope everyone work for common good even we all have different religion.

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks for the comment, ocean freight. Regardless of religion, we can all work for the common good. Absolutely!


At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, tell that to the muslim brotherhood, to Osama, most every saudi. good luck, your gonna need it

At 8:02 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

And how many Saudis do you know personally, Anon?


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