Thursday, October 30, 2008

Moses Still Speaks: 5. The Burning Bush

Pastor Jon Burnham preached this sermon from Exodus 3:1-15 at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Houston on October 26 (OT30a), Stewardship Dedication Sunday

Exodus 3:1-15 (The New Jerusalem Bible)

1 Moses was looking after the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led it to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
2 The angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame blazing from the middle of a bush. Moses looked; there was the bush blazing, but the bush was not being burnt up.
3 Moses said, 'I must go across and see this strange sight, and why the bush is not being burnt up.'
4 When Yahweh saw him going across to look, God called to him from the middle of the bush. 'Moses, Moses!' he said. 'Here I am,' he answered.
5 'Come no nearer,' he said. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.
6 I am the God of your ancestors,' he said, 'the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.' At this Moses covered his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
7 Yahweh then said, 'I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying for help on account of their taskmasters. Yes, I am well aware of their sufferings.
8 And I have come down to rescue them from the clutches of the Egyptians and bring them up out of that country, to a country rich and broad, to a country flowing with milk and honey, to the home of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites,
9 Yes indeed, the Israelites' cry for help has reached me, and I have also seen the cruel way in which the Egyptians are oppressing them.
10 So now I am sending you to Pharaoh, for you to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.'
11 Moses said to God, 'Who am I to go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'
12 'I shall be with you,' God said, 'and this is the sign by which you will know that I was the one who sent you. After you have led the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.'
13 Moses then said to God, 'Look, if I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your ancestors has sent me to you," and they say to me, "What is his name?" what am I to tell them?'
14 God said to Moses, 'I am he who is.' And he said, 'This is what you are to say to the Israelites, "I am has sent me to you." '
15 God further said to Moses, 'You are to tell the Israelites, "Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you." This is my name for all time, and thus I am to be invoked for all generations.

I always dread the part of the phone transaction where the salesperson asks my name. You see, there are two problems with my name: My first name and my last name. My first name is Jon spelled "J-O-N" instead of the more common "J-O-H-N." So when I tell my first name, John, I have to say, "J-O-N." And they reply: "You mean, J-O-H-N?" "No. I mean J-O-N." The reason for that spelling is that my real first name is Jonathan. "J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N." Thus, "J-O-N" for short. After convincing the person on the other end of the line that I really do know how to spell my first name, we must deal with the matter of my last name. "Burnum." "Is that "B-U-R-N-U-M?" "No. It's spelled like "Burn-Ham." "B-U-R-N-H-A-M." At this point in the conversation I usually find myself envious of the person whose name is "Joe Smith" or "Jane Doe." It really does get old having to explain my name to a stranger on the telephone because I need to check on my phone bill. But we must go through the ritual and they must get my name right or we cannot proceed with our business.

Names are meaningful. The name "Jonathan" comes from the Hebrew name יוֹנָתָן (Yonatan)) meaning "YAHWEH has given." Of all the Anglo-Saxon names to come from Britain, Burnham is one of the most ancient and comes from the Old English words "burna" or "stream," and "ham," or "homestead." (source) Today's story about Moses' encounter with God in a burning bush explains the origin of God's name, “Yahweh,” which means “I AM WHO I AM” or "I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE." God's name, Yahweh, emphasizes God's freedom in the present and future tense.

When I was young, my Uncle James was nearly burned alive but he lived. I remember going to see him when he was in the hospital. I felt so sorry for him. He was all bandaged up and could hardly move. He was in great pain. Due to an accident at work, 80% of his body had 3rd degree burns. Uncle James survived that fire. He had skin grafts. But his life was never the same. No one who gets burned that bad goes back to business as usual and neither did Moses. He is a shepherd, out tending his flock, when he comes across a bush that is burning but it is not being burned up. The bush is burning with Yahweh.

God calls to Moses from the burning bush. God gives Moses a mission to return to Egypt and bring God's people out of slavery into the promised land. After initially refusing, Moses finally responds to God's call and his life will never be the same. Here is a recurring pattern in the Bible. God calls people. People initially refuse. People finally give in to God's call. They do what God wants them to do and they are never the same.

Moses knows he will need back up on this return mission to Egypt. So Moses says to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.”

While this is an ancient story, the Hebrews consider it to be their personal story. They do not refer to their ancestors as "they," but as "we." In the Jewish Ritual of the Feast there is this text: "In each generation, each one must consider himself or herself as having come out of Egypt personally. . . . It is not just our ancestors whom the Holy-One-Blessed-Be-He brought out of Egypt, but ourselves; he delivered us with them." (Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, 426)

In the Inquirer's Class we spend one Sunday investigating the Presbyterian story. I show a graph of Presbyterian history that begins at the top of the page with "OT People" and ends at the bottom with "1983 Reunion, forming Presbyterian Church (USA)." Our Presbyterian story starts with the "OT People" meaning the Old Testament people. The Bible is a record of our family stories. The Bible is a story about us.

Religion, Christianity, and church may never make sense to we until you put ourselves into the story. Our story begins with the Old Testament people and continues through the New Testament people and all down through the ages until now. When we present our pledges to God this morning we are participating in our own salvation story. We are connected by faith with Moses, Jesus and Paul.

But you may not be feeling very connected today. In fact you may be feeling disconnected.

I ran aground in a harbor town,
lost the taste for being free.
Thank God He sent some gull-chased ship
to carry me to sea. (Sings Bruce Cockburn)

Perhaps you feel as if your life has run ashore today. You may feel as if you are wandering around in a wilderness with no satisfaction. Or you may feel enslaved inside an empire as the Israelites of old were enslaved in Egypt. Today is a day to break free. Today is a day to find your way back to the sea of God's love. Today is a day to begin again on your journey toward the promised land. Today is the day to re-enter the story.

Here is one way to think about your pledge on this Stewardship Sunday. When you walk forward to place your pledge card in a plate you are buying your way back in to the story. This is something we must do over and over again, not once in a lifetime. We must put ourselves back into the story. You may find your way back into the story with a financial gift, a song, or an act of mercy. However you do it, finding your way back into the story is the greatest journey you will ever make.

The old hymn puts it precisely like this:

This is my story.
This is my song.
Praising my Savior
all the day long.

This is my story.
This is my song.
Praising my Savior
all the day long.

Make it your story today.

Sacred moments shared are one of the joys of serving as the pastor of a congregation. We share memorable moments such as the birth cry of a baby or the last breath of a beloved family member. It is exciting to hear a baby's first cry after birth: “Yaaaah-weh” ... “Yaaah-weh.” And that cry is sometimes heard during the child's baptism as well. Other times we listen to the dying breaths of a family member ..."Yah-waaaaaay” – "Yah-waaaaaay” – "Yah-waaaaaay” is the sound a dying person makes as they inhale and exhale as their body expires. They may make this sound over and over again for several hours and even days as their family listens and waits for the time when they will no longer make that sound or any sound. I have heard that sound in the past year on the lips of some dear members of this congregation.

The first sound a baby makes after birth and the last sound a person makes before death are different pronunciations of the same name: “Yaaaah-weh” and "Yah-waaaaaay” This is the name of God as revealed to Moses: "Yahweh." God's name is our first cry when we enter the world and our last breath when we leave this world. We declare God's name with every breath we take. Whether we feel it or not, we are already inside this story. We never left it. We never will. Yahweh. We pronounce God's name when we enter this life and as we leave it. We pronounce God's name with every breath along life's journey.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Moses Still Speaks: 4. Mysterious Ways

Dr. Jon Burnham preached this sermon from Exodus 33:12-23
on October 19, 2008 at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Houston

We've been traveling through the wilderness with God and Moses and the Hebrew people these last few weeks. This morning we're going to listen in on another fascinating conversation between GOD and Moses. Moses starts by saying to GOD, "Look, You tell me, "I know you well and you are special to me. If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. Don't forget, this is Your people, Your responsibility." Moses suggests to GOD that God is being coy, vague, obscure. Moses wants a road map to the future because he is the leader of God's people.

GOD says, "My presence will go with you. I'll see the journey to the end."

Moses responds, "If your presence doesn't take the lead here, call this trip off right now. How else will it be known that you're with me in this, with me and your people? Are you traveling with us or not? How else will we know that we're special, I and your people, among all other people on this planet Earth?" Moses seeks reassurance from God. A little hand holding. Maybe a hug. Are you traveling with us or not? This is a strange question since God has just told Moses that GOD will go with him and see the journey to the end. It sounds like Moses wants to pin GOD down. Get God to put it down in writing. And no fine print at the bottom.

GOD says to Moses: "All right. Just as you say; this also I will do, for I know you well and you are special to me. I know you by name."

But that's not enough for Moses. Moses wants more from GOD. Moses says, "Please. Let me see your Glory." Moses wants to see the glory. Moses wants to see GOD's blazing brilliance shining like the sun. Moses wants to be dazzled by God. We may think GOD will deny his request. Moses, a mere mortal, requests a personal demonstration of God's glory.

But let's not be too hard on Moses here. This is what we want, too. We want to see GOD's glory! We want GOD to demonstrate some interest on our behalf. We want GOD to go out on a limb for us. Especially when life crashes down on us like a ton of bricks. When a hurricane hits. When test results say the cancer is malignant. LORD GOD, show us your glory please! We need to see your glory because our faith is weak. We need to see your glory because we are creatures with eyes. Seeing is believing. GOD knows our need for intervention.

GOD says to Moses, "I don't you owe you anything. But if it means that much to you, OK, "I'll make my Goodness pass right in front of you; I'll call out my name so You'll know it's me!"

GOD continues, "But you may not see my face. No one sees my face and lives." There GOD goes again, setting limits. I'll go this far with you, Moses, but I won't go an inch further. GOD demands God's space. There is a certain mystery that God will not reveal.

GOD gets very specific about the details of this revealing. GOD says, "Look, here is a place right beside me. Put yourself on this rock. When my Glory passes by, I'll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I've passed by. Then I'll take my hand away and you'll see my back. But you won't see my face."

In his song, Code of Silence, Bruce Springsteen sings:

There's a code of silence,
that we don't dare speak.
There's a wall between us
And a river so deep.
We keep pretending
that there's nothing wrong.
There's a code of silence
and it can't go on.

Some churches break the code of silence by confessing their sins in public during worship. I know, that sounds like a radical idea. I'm not sure I want to go there myself. Yet, somehow, we must tear down the wall that stands between us. We must forge the river that separates us. The code of silence can't go on. One of the things I've appreciated about the Centering Prayer group is the depth of the relationships that are developing. After sitting in silence with God, it feels natural to tell one another our hopes, fears, and disappointments. This is what prayer is all about, developing relationships with God and one another. That group meets at 4:30 PM on Sundays in my office and is open to newcomers. You may break the code of silence between us in several ways in this church: Through a church school class, singing in the choir, playing hand bells, serving on a ministry team, or visiting at a table at a brunch. Church is a place in society where we break the code of silence between ourselves and others.

When I was 13 years old, I wanted to break the code of silence between myself and God. Like Moses, I wanted to see God's face. I remember twirling in the seat of a swing set on the third grade playground of the public school in the small town where I lived. I was alone and I was praying for God to reveal Himself to me. I wanted to see God's face. I prayed with all sincerity. I begged God with all my might. And nothing happened. After awhile I gave up, stepped out of the swing and slowly walked home.

God tells Moses, "You won't see my face." Note the mystery that God maintains. God's design for a divine-human relationship is grounded in mystery. As Paul said, "Now we see God through a mirror, dimly, but when we die we shall see Him face to face. Now we know in part. Then we shall know fully, even as we have been fully known by God." The Bible assures us a fuller revelation about God will come to us after we die.

Until then, James reminds us that faith without works is dead. How we spend our money and our time is a measure of our Christian faith. Whether we pay a pledge or not, and regardless of how much or how little we give, we won't see GOD's face because we don't need to see God's face. The Lord GOD has already given us enough of God's self. Traveling with us through the wilderness to the Promised Land. And above all, coming to us in Jesus Christ, GOD's full revelation. Each Sunday in worship we proclaim our faith. We're saying God has done enough. We have learned trust. We share in the mystery. Remember the old gospel song:

When darkness veils GOD's lovely face,
I rest on GOD's unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

God wants us to learn to trust. To cast our lots with One who requires faith instead of proof. God limits what we can see and know about the divine mystery in this lifetime. GOD will cater to our desires but only so far and no further. Then it's back on us. Sometimes God chooses to withhold the divine mystery. Other times God does make Himself known.

One night God did answer my prayer. I was at a prayer meeting at someone's home. It was New Year's Eve. I consented to God's presence and action within with no expectations that anything would happen. But something did happen. That evening I shared in the mystery of God's love in energetic waves that seemed to spread from me to all eternity in both directions -- past and future. That experience changed my life forever. It removed my fear of death. For I know that when that final mystery is unveiled, I will find myself once again broken open to God's divine love that is stronger and deeper than any ocean on this planet. That night I did not see God's face. But if I had, I believe His warm smile would have welcomed me back into the arms of divine love. For when our baptism is complete in death, we are only falling back, back into the arms of God's love.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Moses Still Speaks: 3. The Golden Calf

Dr. Jon Burnham preached this sermon from Exodus 32:1-14
on October 12, 2008 (OT28a)

When I graduated from college I worked for several months as the Interim Director of Christian Education at Fondren Presbyterian Church. That employement whetted my appetite for further work in the church. In order to move forward in Christian Education, I felt I needed to continue my education. The pastor recommended the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia, but I couldn't afford to go there. I had too many college loans. But there was an elder in the church who responded to God's nudge and opened his wallet and gave me a scholarship. Thank God that elder interceded for me. Without him, I don't know where I would be today.

What about you? Who helped you get where you are today? Your parents? A teacher? A mentor? If we had the time, we could around the sanctuary and each of you could share your story of who helped you get where you are today. But we don't have time to do that today, in fact, this is an abbreviated service and sermon so we can get over to the vision brunch and share our dreams for St. John's. But before we leave here, let me tell you a story. 

Moses was taking forever up on Mount Sinai where God was giving him the Ten Commandments. The people finally got tired of waiting for him. They called on Moses' assistant, Aaron, to provide them with a real god on the spot. Aaron demanded everyone give him their gold rings and bracelets and ear rings. He took all that gold and melted it down and made it into a golden calf. Then he proclaimed a feast day. The people worshiped the golden calf and things got pretty wild. Just then Moses showed up carrying the Ten Commandments. When he saw what was going on with the people he was so mad he threw down the stone tablets, thus becoming the first person in the history of the world to break all ten commandments. God was not amused. God was so mad at the people that God wanted to destroy the people. 

Moses began to negotiate with God on behalf of the people. Moses told God, "This is terrible. This people has sinned—it's an enormous sin! They made a god of gold for themselves. And now, if you will only forgive their sin ... but if not, erase me out of the book you've written."

God said to Moses, "I'll only erase from my book those who sin against me. For right now, you go and lead the people to where I told you. Look, my Angel is going ahead of you. On the day, though, when I settle accounts, their sins will certainly be part of the settlement."

The people gave up on Moses but Moses did not give up on the people. God gave up on the people but Moses did not give up on the people. Moses brokered a deal between the people and God.

After church on Sunday morning, a young boy suddenly announced to his mother, "Mom, I've decided I'm going to be a minister when I grow up."
"That's okay with us," the mother said, "But what made you decide to be a minister?"
"Well," the boy replied, "I'll have to go to church on Sunday anyway, and I figure it will be more fun to stand up and yell than to sit still and listen."

Perhaps you can sit still long enough to hear this story. I promise not to shout. 

Next to the entrance of the public library on Stella Link there is a statue of a green calf. plastered with black dollar and cent signs. It reminds me of the golden calf the Israelites made while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments. If we constructed a calf to worship today it would be green instead of gold. It would be green because that is the color of money. And yes, it would probably be covered with black painted dollar signs and cents signs like the green calf at the public library. We live in a scientific world where everything is measured including each of us. From an early age, we are taught to measure people by how much money they have, by what kind of car they drive, and by the cost of their clothes and their house.

I wonder about the meaning of that green cow statue at the public library. Was the artitist who made it trying to point out how we humans give a monetary value to everything in our world, even the animals? This cow is worth this much money. This part of the cow is worth this much money. That part of this cow is worth this many dollars and that much cents. That system has served us most of our lives. What do we do when that system seems to be faltering as it seems to be doing now? Is there another way to measure the value of a cow? Is there another way to measure the value of a person? Jesus had the radical idea that our value as people comes not from WHO we but WHOSE we are. We have been adopted into God's family. Our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. 

To a large extent, the Christian religion is built on the concept of interceding. We pray in the Lord's prayer, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Thank God someone forgave my debts and provided a scholarship for me to go study Christian education. If that Presbyterian elder hadn't paid that debt for me, I don't know what I would be doing today. In those moments when we make decisions about what we will say or not say; what we will do or not do; what we will give or not give, we are making history. We are determining the future of ourselves and of those whom we enable or deny. Moses stood up for his people even when they turned against him. God had mercy on the people of Israel because Moses had mercy on the people of Israel. In the end, it all comes down to mercy. Who gives it? Who gets it? Money is the currency of the physical world. Mercy is the currency of the spiritual world. 

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Moses Still Speaks: The Ten Commandments

Dr. Jon Burnham preached this sermon from Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Houston on October 5, 2008 (OT27a)

While many people agree that the Ten Commandments are important, few people can remember all ten of them. So Co-Pastors Bruce & Carolyn Winfrey Gillette developed a way that children as well as adults can learn the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), using their ten fingers. Let's quickly review them.

Start with your hands together in prayer. This reminds us that God heard the prayers of the Hebrew people when they were in slavery in Egypt and freed them (Exodus 3:7, 20:2). The commandments are a way for us to show our gratitude for God's love in our lives and to further just and  peaceful relationships in God's world.

The first 4 commandments are given to foster our relationship with God.

1. "I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me." Hold up one index finger for the number one. We worship one God.

2. "You shall not worship idols."  Idols, false gods, are not only things like statues, but anything in which we place our ultimate trust and allegiance-- for example, money, possessions or weapons. Hold up two fingers. Should we worship more than one God? No, two is too many! One of them must be an idol, and we should not worship it!

3. "You shall not take the Lord's name in vain."  Use three fingers to form the letter "W' which stands for "words." Watch your words! God wants us to use his name in loving, caring ways, as we pray and as we talk about him, not in swearing or in anger.

4. "Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy."  Hold up four fingers, and fold your thumb under to let it rest. The thumb has the right idea. It's the Sabbath, and the thumb is following the commandment to take a day of rest. God does not want anyone to overwork or be stressed, so we need a day to rest, to be at peace, and to worship with others. God also gave us the Sabbath so that working people would not be taken advantage of by their employers (Deut. 5:14)

The other 6 commandments give us boundaries meant to facilitate our relationship with other people.

5. "Honor your father and your mother."  Hold up all five fingers on one hand as if you are taking a pledge, to honor your parents. God wants there to be peace and love in all our family relationships.

6. "You shall not kill." Pretend the index finger on your second hand is a gun, shooting at the first five fingers. God's sixth commandment teaches us not to do anything that would hurt another person unfairly.

7. "You shall not commit adultery."  Or, as one child thought he heard it, "Thou shalt not admit adultery." Hold one hand out flat. The five fingers and hand become the floor of the church. Two fingers on the other hand are the man and woman to be married, standing in the church, making promises to each other. This seventh commandment calls for couples to keep the marriage promises they make.

8. "You shall not steal."  Hold up four fingers on each hand, for the eighth commandment. If you stretch out your fingers slightly, these become the prison bars, which hold someone who was been arrested for stealing. Our Presbyterian Church (USA)'s Study Catechism says "God forbids all theft and robbery, including schemes, tricks or systems that unjustly take what belongs to someone else." (Question # 112)

9. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." Hold up all five fingers on one hand and four on the other. Fold your second thumb under and turn your hand around, so the thumb is hiding. It is secretly going around telling the other four fingers on that hand lies and rumors about the five fingers on the other hand. It is "bearing false witness," as it talks behind people's backs, spreading gossip, criticizing others without talking directly to the people involved. Dietrich Bonhoeffer set up a Christian community in Germany during the Nazi regime. One of the rules of the community was this: "No one may talk about any other member of the community unless that person is present." As one of the community members later said, "Of course we didn't always keep that rule but the very idea of having it as a goal completely changed the nature of our community." I wonder how our church fellowship would change if we followed the ninth commandment.

10. "Do not covet what belongs to your neighbor." Hold out your hands, palms up, and wiggle all ten fingers to show that they've got the "gimmies." Your fingers are saying, "Gimmie what belongs to my neighbor. I want all those things my neighbor has."  This is not the way God wants us to live.

John Calvin encouraged Christians in his day to sing the Ten Commandments followed by "Lord, have mercy" after each commandment. End with your hands together in prayer, asking that, by God's grace, we may live out these teachings in our everyday lives and expressing thanks that the God of peace is with us all (Philippians 4:9). This educational resource for remembering the Ten Commandments was adapted by Bruce & Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (co-pastors of Limestone Presbyterian Church, in Wilmington, DE)A Christian Primer: The Prayer, the Creed, the Commandments by Albert Curry Winn (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990) is an excellent resource for personal and small group study.

Jesus shortened the 10 Commandments down to 2: Love God with all your heart and mind and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:28-34) Love God and love your neighbor. Have you ever known a person of integrity who loved God and neighbor?

I know a person of integrity, a Presbyterian elder named George. The first time I met him was when I met my new congregation at a church picnic in a previous call.  After the meal, this man named George proudly introduced me to his family and then he starting talking to me. He told me story after story. Maybe I was too self conscious since this was my first time to meet with this new congregation, but this man seemed to be totally unselfconscious almost in the way a special child is unaware of himself. He acted as if he had known me his entire life although we had only just met.

Over the course of the next several years I came to greatly respect this elder for his judgment and his integrity. Whenever he agreed to take on a job he saw it through. He did his work with diligence and attention to detail. He knew how to work with people. I never heard him say one word against anyone in the church except one time. He had served on the Personnel Committee and one of the church employees needed to be reigned in and George tried to do it with tolerant respect. He gave the employee time and many opportunities but the employee never responded with respect. George finally and reluctantly led the Session through a process of ending the church's relationship with that employee in a way that was  very generous to the employee and his family. This was a delicate situation because this church employee had family members in the church who were active leaders in the choir and other areas of the church. I remember the Session meeting when George finally said it was time to move on without this employee. He did it with such grace and dignity toward the employee and the church. In time I came to realize that George had a genius for dealing with people. He was the radio announcer for the high school football team in his small home town. He could talk to anyone in any walk of life from the homeless person to the president. His father had been the town doctor for many years. George said his father, a surgeon, had told him George would never be able to make a living with his hands so he would have to make a living with his head. George graduated from law school and eventually went into politics. Today George is a State Supreme Court Justice and he hasn't changed a bit.

We know integrity when we see it in a person. It shines. It illuminates. It attracts. Jesus was a person of integrity. He was the light of the world. He trimmed the 10 commandments down to 2: Love God and love your neighbor. Here is how the New Testament puts it according to a modern translation:

If anyone boasts, "I love God," and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both. (1 John 4:20-21)

On this World Communion Sunday as we gather around the Lord's table with Christians in Houston, Africa, and all around the world, we remember that we have in common the Ten Commandments of Moses and the two commandments of Jesus to love God and love our neighbor. May God give us the grace to be people of love and integrity today.