O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments
by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your
Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole
heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through
Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I like to know things. So, I have spent a lot of time in my life learning things. Especially when I think the subject is important. I started spending time studying scripture when I was very young, so I knew a lot of information about the Bible as a kid. One day, I was the oldest kid in a pre-teen sunday school class. The lesson about Noah’s arc had left out the detail that Noah had brought seven of all the clean animals in addition to bringing two of every kind of animal. I spent the rest of the class making sure everyone knew that. I couldn’t tell you what the point of the lesson was, and neither could anyone else who was there. The things I knew kept all of us from learning anything that day, except maybe that I can be a real jerk when I put my mind to it.
There will be people like me in your worship service this week. Maybe you are one of us. We show up to worship every week wanting new information. If we don’t learn something new, if we aren’t introduced to some new implication that scripture has in our lives, if we are bored by hearing things we already know we will be disappointed. When we pray this prayer, we pray for God to teach us something that we should already know, but need to hear again. We ask for the Holy Spirit to tell us again the thing that should be seared into our hearts, but often isn’t: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37b-40 NRSV).
We aren’t called to worship to be entertained, or catered to, or even to learn something new (although hopefully we do learn something sometimes). We gather to be shaped into the image of the God whose law is love. Anything we know, or think we know, must be put to the task of loving God and loving others. As we gather, we pray that the Spirit will fill us with that love. We ask God to soften our hearts so that we might learn God’s commands, and learn to live them through the lens of God’s love. Because it is only by being taught this lesson over, and over, and over again that the Spirit forms us into a people through whoms the world sees the love of God.