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Deeper: Ourselves

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  • Self-Care is a 450 billion dollar industry in the US.
    • Some of them are familiar, while others are new
    • Most of this money is trying to take care of a need to love oneself.
    • This has taken even more prominence in the last few months as the pandemic has worn us down in so many different ways.
  • Nothing about this activity seems to be wrong
    • Going to the gym and being healthy is important!
    • Being happy with your appearance can, most of the time, be a good thing
    • We like to take vacations, we like to be places where we feel better
    • Many of the concepts here are critically important to be balanced and live a fulfilling life
  • Certainly, here, we see that in the passages today, there's some value in loving ourselves as well!
    • The Shema: The more of ourselves that we find worthy - heart, soul, might - the more that we can love God
      • Is one of the most important prayers for observant Jews
      • The tefillin is understood as part of this passage
      • And, really, for anyone in an Abrahamic tradition, it's great shorthand for what we ought to believe.
    • And, we hear further from Jesus that the Shema plus loving neighbor as self are the two most important things someone can do in God's Commonwealth.
  • We could leave the sermon here and be done.
  • Sometimes, when we hear familiar passages over and over again, that can be what we do. Just be done with it.
  • However, sometimes you can go looking for something new, and I was just struck by this question: is this symmetric?
    • If you love yourself a lot, do you love your neighbor a lot?
    • If you love your neighbor a lot, do you love yourself a lot?
    • Does A=B, and B=A? I want to argue today that that is true. This is a great one for us to perhaps disagree on and discuss.
    • What is the fundamental relationship here between the self and the other?
  • Now, yeah, that's a "deeper," but one that's been going along for thousands of years and something that a 15 minute sermon can't quite completely unravel, but we might be wise to investigate our collective motives.
    • As far as I could research, we spend about 100 billion dollars less on charitable giving than self-care as a society.
      • So in one way, where our money goes tells us a little bit about where our hearts are.
      • That would make the self greater than the other monetarily.
    • But there's also a question about ends - why do we do self-care? Why doesn't self-care always equate to loving ourselves more?
      • If those economic figures are true, in one way it's a consumerist driven model: go buy things to feel better.
        • In small doses there's nothing wrong with that, but it would make it hard then to make A=B and B=A
        • But if loving self and loving neighbor is more important that burnt offerings and sacrifices, there has to be some reality that the economic realities aren't the most valuable thing here.
      • If it is just self-care to care for self and we become a vacuum of things and activities, I'm not sure it helps us as much as we might hope it will - it will feel like every other thing that bogs us down, and the self will always be more than the neighbor.
      • At some point, self-care should have an end, a purpose, that helps us avoid both the consumerism and the vacuum.
  • What does self-care look like with the intentions of the other in mind?
    • Beuchener quote: God calls us to where our deepest joys and the world's greatest needs meet
    • I ask this question of folks all the time: what's the thing you do that brings you the most joy when you do it and that you'd love to teach others?
    • When I'm asked that question in return, I love to talk about computer building. I love to build them from scratch.
    • I feel a self-satisfaction of doing something I love and I can work with my hands with immediate results, and I've helped someone else build a computer.
    • Maybe you have something like that too - I'd love for you to reflect on that during our work of the people time.
    • But there might be a way that A=B and B=A.
      • We love ourselves more because we're doing something we love
      • We love the other by offering our first fruits to someone else
      • We recognize value in others that they, too have something to offer, so we love them more
      • And we are fulfilled when we learn something from someone else.
      • And, as both of those grow, so does the love of God, which is the ultimate reasons to do any of it at all.
  • The church
    • The church should be, at it's core, a place where that kind of self-care occurs all the time.
    • Volunteering is not a permanent soul-sucking activity that drains away life, requiring a self indulgent self-care (although, if anyone has been on Session in the middle of the 5 hour meeting, you know that canhappen)
    • Instead is a place where we get to be who we are and help others become the same.
    • As we think about becoming a theological civic center, that concept of love of self, neighbor, and God goes beyond our walls.
    • We talk about Time, Talent, Treasure, and we almost look and the first and the last without the middle, which may be the most important of all
      • You are a beautiful, beloved child of God
      • You have more gifts to offer than you might realize
      • Even the smallest things you love might be the thing someone else needs

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