"love" Tagged Sermons
We celebrate the nurturing love of all mothers, all who have mothered us, all who have mothered creatures and creation and even congregations. We celebrate their laying their lives down for new life, their self-sacrifice, their bond of love like no other that nothing can sever. We also celebrate Jesus’ mothering love today in asking God for humankind’s protection– it is as if he is standing at our bus stop on the first day of school watching us go forth on our own. Did he teach us enough? Will we remember? Will we be ok without him beside us? Will we find our way home?
God gives us the opportunity and ability to bear God’s grace to each other, to be God’s love and grace to each other. It’s a huge responsibility and a gift. It’s something of a miracle each time it happens.
The pilgrims on their ascent up the Mount of Olives reasonably thought power of might won, but we know differently, it is only and always the power of love which will win in the end.
As we say in our collect on Friday mornings during Morning Prayer, “Jesus stretched out his arms on the hard wood of the cross so that everyone may come within his saving embrace.” Believing in a God who would do that for us, and thus calls us to do that for everyone else, can feel risky. And if it is risky, then perhaps it is of God, for it does seem to me that God is the greatest risk-taker of all. God trusts us, we fallible humans, with each other and with God’s creation, and built into that trust in always intention and invitation to redemption and transformed living. When we believe in a loving God who takes risks for us, who loves us into being, then I believe we too can become risk-takers for love. This is what this parable can teach us. Be risk-takers for love. We often say fear is the opposite of faith, largely because each time the angels show up in scripture, they begin their conversation with “Do not be afraid” for fear can prevent us from seeing, hearing, and loving God. Do not be afraid, my friends. Above all else, God has entrusted you with your love of God and it is right and good to share that love boldly with others. We can’t get that wrong, for that always will be pleasing in God’s sight. Amen.
The God who is Love acts – to liberate and save, forgive and heal, acts to empower us to join God in creating that future where everything finally will be reconciled and made whole. So let’s take a look at the condition of our own Christ garment. Where is it frayed, wearing thin, or maybe even starting to tear? Perhaps you are in need of liberation from something that’s dragging you down, holding you back from mirroring Christ’s love. Maybe you have difficulty accepting the fact that God believes you are worth saving. Or maybe there is a situation, a sin, a habit with which we repeatedly wrestle. Perhaps we need assurance of forgiveness and the courage and faith with God’s help, to begin again. Maybe there are tender wounded places in us that need healing, which we keep well hidden. Most of us will have at least one situation where we need the Spirit’s help to put love into action, to let Christ’s light shine through us.
The story of God asking Abraham to offer his only and beloved son, Isaac, to be sacrificed as a test of his faith reveals the hard truth that salvation is going to be a costly endeavor. It sets the story of God and our salvation on a trajectory we often resist, namely that there are costs to being faithful. It is more comfortable to believe in a God who is predictable, tame and safe, than to believe in a God who actually demands something of us, who asks us to offer back to God that which is most precious to us, who promises us resurrection, but holds up the way of the cross to get there.
Within this action is a statement which says that following Jesus is not an onlooker sport, but one which calls us to participate. We must know it and live it. We can’t just be happy that Jesus presented a different kingdom, one of God, one of love, without dedicating ourselves to presenting that same different kingdom to our world today. We must be servants to each other. This is how oppression and systems of injustice are torn down, not through violence, but through service and love. This is Jesus’ message. This is why he died on the cross, to invite us to go there too, into the death of the world as we know it and the resurrection of the world as God dreams.
We have a glimpse of this eternal rest each time we come to Jesus, when we surrender our souls weary from carrying the burdens of a world where injustice reigns and broken relationships flourish, when we take the yoke of Jesus upon our own shoulders, and we move in sync with the grace of Christ.
You are Loved for who you are, exactly as you are, unconditionally.
When we give or receive love gone beautifully wild, when we love without counting costs, when we give extravagantly, when we pour out the ointment of our own lives, lavishly upon someone regardless of their deservedness, a healthy hallowing takes place within our own being. We create not a void nor an empty space, but an open place, which prepares us for the insight God desires to give us, which allows the space for Jesus to rule our hearts, and which transforms us into a translucent alabaster jar, ready to spill out the special ointment of our hearts. When we give love away, we create room for God to show up in our lives.
For it is Christ’s love alone which can wear down our harsh edges, or erode our pride or selfishness, or erase our deep wounds. Christ can invite us to be our most generous selves, and our world will turn toward goodness. If this all seems vague and difficult to imagine in the particular, to see the details in front of you, to be attentive to what this looks like in real life, you need only to draw up from your heart the images from this past week. Never before in my life have I so experienced the grace and generosity of God through how we were church together
Like Jesus, we need to be attentive to an alternative voice; we need to be able to listen deeply to those whose voices are hushed in our society; we need to clear away the barriers set within our communities which systematically make people mute. We need to listen for the voice of love, never being attuned to the voice of hate.