Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Lovers' Quarrel (Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent) Malachi 1

(3rd c. North African theologian Origen of Alexandria)

Malachi 1 (Beginning of our sermon series on Malachi)
Calvary - St. George's Church, Manhattan

“‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord.
But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’
‘Is not Esau Jacob’s brother,’ says the Lord. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob but I have hated Esau.’

‘A son honors his father… If then I am a father, where is the honor due me’ says the Lord of hosts to you who despise my name.’
You say, ‘How have we despised your name?’
‘By offering polluted food on my altar,’

‘What a weariness this is,’ you say, and you sniff at me.
‘You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering.’”

What an exchange in our Old Testament reading. Did you notice the back and forth, the proximity, the intimacy? God and his people are having a conversation. They’re like a married couple arguing. People who don’t love each other don’t talk like this. People who don’t care for each other don’t have this conversation.

I recently read a Modern Love column in the New York Times about a tell for the end of a marriage. “The verbal sparrings were actually signs of hope for our relationship,” wrote the author of the piece, “but once the conflicts ceased, I knew it was over.” “You have tough conversations with those whom you love,” she commented. “You pull away from those you don’t.”

People who don’t love each other do not have this conversation.