Sermon – 12-20-20 – Advent IV – LOVE – Cycle B
Scriptures: 1 John 4:7-21, John 3:16-21
Sermon: “Where Does Love Take Us?
Where has love taken you as of this moment? Maybe to the heights and then to the depths! Maybe you felt all tingly on Wednesday in the beautiful snowfall. Maybe you were walking your dog as the snowflakes fell on both of you. Maybe it is your dog whose love you receive even when you are grumpy. Love comes in all strengths, all flavors, gradually or spontaneously. A painting can speak to one person while it gives no sound to another person whose attention is caught by a fancy car or motorcycle.
Loving things or animals or people gives us pleasure. We use the word “love” so loosely. Should we give the word LOVE more respect? Should we save it for people to people or people to animals? Or should we save it for positive life-changing experiences? Then we have God’s love for us. How can we return God’s love?
Sometimes we have been hurt by loving too much. Should we love without restraint? Or should we restrain ourselves because the hurt is too great. Well then, did anyone love us without restraint? Maybe our parents, maybe a spouse or a child. Then there is Jesus. Love without restraint for sure!
Should we give our love only when someone loves us? Something like a mutual admiration society. Can we produce varying amounts of love or does love come at the same dose on every occasion? Some of us find loving and unselfishness to be easy. We were born that way. Some of us observe that we noticeably lack love for people and animals and creation. How does love develop if we were not born with that nature?
Love can grow from the tiniest speck in our brains. Somehow it gradually becomes connected to our hearts. That speck of love will not grow if we are self-centered. We need to wonder about the other person – that person who annoys us no end. Maybe that person is dangerous to us and other people. What does love have to do with controlling that person or wanting to help that person?
There is mystery in love. Love and patience can change another person’s behavior. Love is not threatening. Love can be sneaky and surprise the person with a favor, a bit of kindness, maybe an ice cream cone. Maybe a compliment. Maybe a good word spoken to the right person at the right time, in the right place.
Love takes us from wondering about one person to wondering about groups of people. The gangs – political and non-political! Changing a whole gang? Seems impossible to me and very frightening. Just getting within a mile of a brutal gang is terrifying just to think about it. What do those people need? Something is missing in their lives. They have not had the gift of love – genuine love – in their lives. They are looking for it. If we can only think of a way to give them shots of love – doses of love – like vaccine.
Taking my mind off violent gangs, where will my mind go next. I remember I am focusing on LOVE. If we truly care about other people instead of just ourselves, we will want what is good for them, what is just, what is fair.
I have heard the moans from the bottom of the filthy slave ships moving westward across the ocean. I have heard the soulful singing from the cotton fields. These are not romantic songs. These songs were the salvation for the hurting people, helping them to put one foot in front of the other even as their backs were screaming. I have pictured the pain in the heart of a husband as the white slave owner took his wife. I have heard!
I have heard the pain speaking loudly from a Native American who was shoved from her sacred land. I have read that land connects the American Indian to God in a deep, real way. Pushed into reservations when the whole expanse of land had been theirs. Lack of education, medicine and health care, sanitation, food, paying work. Someone thought to profit from alcohol which degrades a person’s humanity. I have heard!
I have heard that non-whites were denied free college tuition even though they had escaped death along side whites to preserve freedom in the world. Where is fairness? Where is LOVE? Who knows what barriers, hoops, walls, rules our neighbors have had to maneuver where we moved easily. Wait! Life has not been easy for many non-whites either. You may have been such a person where refrigerators were empty, when your clothing was tattered and ill-fitting, when people made fun of you. It hurts! Where was fairness? Where was love?
Where is fairness when some people are given stimulus checks and others denied? Where is love when we can get credit and other people can’t, through no fault of their own? Where is fairness when some businesses had to close to stop the deadly virus and not other businesses?
There is an easy word for people having equal opportunity, for people being treated respectfully. It is justice. But justice without love does not allow a person to be the person God created that person to be.
Lord Jesus, help us to be mindful of the feelings and needs of all people, near and far. In your name we pray. Amen