Jesus said, "But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Luke 6:27-38
There are some days when the abundance of God seems overwhelming. There are other days, of course, when all that I notice are the shortfalls. But autumn in New England is a glorious time. A time of apples and pumpkins everywhere and the trees all around a shock of colors. Today, it is impossible not to be grateful for the full measure pressed down, shaken together and running over. I am blessed with an amazing family, a new home and work that is thrilling and challenging.
Jesus challenges his friends to love their enemies and to give love in abundance. He tells them to be merciful and to live without judging others. Some days that is a hard challenge, and yet, when we open our arms and hearts to others we see the abundance of God around us. It changes our eyesight and our perspective as well as our hearts.
This day I ask God to help me give thanks for the abundance that surrounds and nurtures me. May our gratitude take the shape of offering, our lives given for the care and love of others. May we strive to love all with the love we desire for ourselves. May we know God richly as we give ourselves away.