I preached this on Thursday April 7 here at the nursing home.
Today we honor Tikhon of Moscow, a man who was at one time the head of the Orthodox Church in America and later the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church during and after the Communist revolution. While in America he reached out to Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and the Greek Orthodox. And that's one reason we honor him. He was a peacemaker as Jesus called for us all to be in the Beatitudes.
You know what all Christians agree on? On the things we say every week in the Creed: that God created everything, that Jesus is his son, who lived as one of us and died for us and rose again, that God leads us through his Holy Spirit, that we constitute his church, that our sins are forgiven, that we shall be resurrected and live forever. All Christians also believe that we find God's Word in the Bible. Where we tend to disagree is on matters of interpretation and emphasis. And I don't want to say those matters are unimportant, but they are not essential. I don't have to understand the internal combustion engine to learn to drive, or the biochemistry of digestion to eat well, or the role of oxytocin in the brain in order to love others. You need to understand just enough to do it and to do it properly.
Remember: Jesus did not say that the world would know that we are his disciples by the fact that we agree on everything, or that we do everything exactly the same. He said the world would know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another. That's a pretty easy thing to remember, though it is very hard to do. Loving imperfect people is challenging. But God does it. And we can, if we rely on the power and wisdom of his Holy Spirit to guide us.
The Bible never says that “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” It does say that "God is love.” To be godly, then, is to be loving. And if we are supposed to grow into Christ, we must grow in our ability to love others, no matter how hard. Because in that way we will love one another as he loved us.