The Second Greatest Commandment by Bob Wickizer

The Second Greatest Commandment
Bob Wickizer
Leviticus 19:1-2,15-18; Psalm 1; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46

I may have shared this story with you before, but it is at least fun to repeat. I have a dear friend that I have known since we were in our twenties. Mark attended Concordia Lutheran seminary during the same years that I attended graduate school in St. Louis. Mark has served as a Lutheran pastor in Virginia ever since graduation. I have changed careers a few times since then. He has two boys the same age as our two girls. Our families have vacationed together. For several years while we were serving parishes in Virginia and Maryland, we would trade congregations on Reformation Sunday (which is today). The first time we did it, about 10:00 that Sunday morning Mark told my congregation that I was probably looking at a green Lutheran book of worship and wondering what to do next.

While there were currents of activity already going in Europe prior to Luther, Luther nailed his 95 Theses or ''Disputations'' on the door of the Schlosskirche or Castle Church in Wittenburg on the Eve of All Hallows, October 31, 1517. This was a common practice among scholars in his day and the fact that his writing was in Latin and not in the common language of the people tells us that the Protestant Reformation he ignited was initially intended to be a scholarly debate.

Going back to a much earlier reformation, the Pharisees are sparring with Jesus once again in a style common for rabbis in his day. ''Rabbi, which is the greatest commandment?'' The Torah contains 613 commandments and this was a very typical question among the Pharisees. First Jesus cites the ancient Jewish Shema from Deuteronomy ''Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! ''You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.'' For the life of me I will never understand how the word ''might'' or strength in Deuteronomy becomes ''mind'' i ...

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