are the theme and subject of our program of worship and children's Sunday School this summer at Emmanuel Mennonite Church. Prepared and offered by our denomination, Mennonite Church USA, it aims at integrating our inter-generational worship with the youth and children's Sunday School program, so that our messages and many of the songs and prayers will focus on the same scriptures and subjects as what the Sunday School classes will be doing. And everyone, children and adults, will be challenged to memorize the following words of Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5: 43:
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
Why would he say that, especially when the wisdom and ways of the world are so contrary to that, as well as our basic instincts and our bodily, adrenaline rushes? And especially since carrying out his own teaching cost him his own life, through an excruciatingly (literally) painful death? Skip the idea that this is only a "spiritual" message with no connection to politics. Jesus' disciples, his audience and his enemies would have known who the "enemies" and "persecutors" were, and would have heard his message in a very political way. For more on these provocative ideas, check out this past Sunday's message (June 1) at