12th Sunday After Pentecost, August 12, 2018
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
St. Lawrence, who was a deacon of the church, was martyred outside the city of Rome in the year 258, for refusing to renounce his faith in the Jesus. He was barbecued to death on a grill. His dying words to his executioners were, â€œI am done on this side. Flip me over and eat.â€ A gruesome story of the faith. Laurence had a full and complete faith. Nothing half-baked for him.
The term â€œhalf-baked,â€ means not fully cooked, as in half-baked bread which is soft and inedible. A half-baked idea is one that is not well thought out or is considered foolish. It is not complete. Something is missing. A half-baked faith is a faith that is incomplete, not fully formed, and missing something. It is a faith that is empty and unproductive.
Zweiback is a bread that is baked, then sliced and baked again until it is hard, crisp and dry. It was used as a teething biscuit for toddlers. In a similar vein is the Italian twice-baked cookie, Biscotti, which are lovely to eat, or if you are like me, to dunk into coffee. These two items are completely baked, or twice-baked, to be certain that they are fully cooked.
In todayâ€™s second lesson from the letter to the church gathered in Ephesus, the author encourages the congregation to put away all falsehood and speak the truth â€œto our neighbors.â€ What could that mean? Well, I know what it doesnâ€™t mean. It doesnâ€™t mean to hide behind the phrase, â€œWell, itâ€™s the truth!â€ when we have said something insensitive or unkind.
Today people feel they should say whatever they want no matter how hurtful it is, hiding behind the â€œitâ€™s the truth.â€ We get no points as Christians if we are unkind. That type of thing is not what is meant in this passage.
Speaking the truth to our neighbors is simply telling them the truth about Jesus Christ: telling them about Jesusâ€™ command to love God and to love one another. Further on in this lesson, we are admonished to â€œLet no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.â€
Wow! What words, because we all know what it is like to feel like someone has plucked our last nerve or pestered us just one too many times. It is so easy to blow our cork and be unkind. I think the author of this letter, whoever they were, knew human nature pretty well.
They go on to say, â€œPut away from you all bitterness, wrath and anger and wrangling, and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Be imitators of God and live in love.â€ Imitators of God in Christ. To look at the way Jesus lived and ministered and taught and to be imitators of him. To be all little Jesusâ€™s in the world.
Itâ€™s kind of like the old childrenâ€™s game, Simon Says. How many of you know that game and have played that game? One person is Simon and you have to do whatever Simon says. And if you do something that is not prefaced by the phrase, â€œSimon says,â€ youâ€™re out of the game. It is a mimicking game. â€œJesus says, love one another, be kind to one another and above all, love God.â€ So, do it. If not, then you’re out of the game. We remember what Jesus has done and we do the same. No half-baked faith for us but the full, twice-baked, fully cooked faith. Jesus, the bread of life, calls us into relationship with all the people of this world. Jesus calls us into a loving relationship with all other peoples in this world. No questions asked. He loves you; you love them. Fully baked faith.
Simon says, “Jesus says to love one another.” Just do it.