I wasn’t going to blog today. It’s sunny, but I have no garden so I’m sitting indoors and feeling quite cold and blue, and sorta lonely.
It’s the day of the Royal wedding too, and I’m busy avoiding it. I loathe the hype and the celeb spotting and all that. And then I went online and up popped the sermon given by Bishop Michael Curry, and I read it. An awful lot of sermons rattle around this world and just a few of them are worth saving, sermons like this one.
These are some of his words. They’re great. What a fabulous message:
“Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it out.”
[Song of Songs viii:6-7]
The late Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said, and I quote: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will be make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.”
There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalise it, this power, power in love.
If you don’t believe me, think about the time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to centre around you and your beloved. For this power – power in love, not just in its romantic forms but any form, any shape of love – there’s a certain sense in which, when you are loved and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it, when you love and you show it, it actually feels right. There’s something right about it, and there’s a reason for it.
The reason has to be the source. We were made by a power of love and our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love, that’s why we are here. Ultimately the source of love is God himself, the source of all of our lives.
There’s an old medieval poem that says: “Where true love is found, God himself is there.”
The New Testament says it this way: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not know love do not know God. Why? Because God is love.” [I John iv:4-8]
There’s power in love.
There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can.
There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.
There’s power in love to show us the way to live.
Set me as a seal on your heart, a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death. But love is not only about a young couple. The power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we’re all here. Two young people fell in love and we all showed up.
But it’s not just for and about a young couple who we rejoice with. It’s more than that. Jesus of Nazareth, on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses and he went back and reached back into the Hebrew scriptures, to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and Jesus said: “You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment and the second is like it: love your neighbour as yourself.”
Then in Matthew’s version he added. He said: “On these two, love of God and love of neighbour, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world. Love God, love your neighbours, and while you’re at it, love yourself.”
And now — someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in all of human history. A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world, and a movement mandating people to live that love and in so doing to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. [Charles Marsh, The Beloved Community]
I’m talking ’bout some power. Real power. Power to change the world. If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s antebellum south, who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. They explained it this way — they sang a spiritual even in the midst of their captivity. It’s one that says there’s a balm in Gilead, a healing balm , something that can make things right: “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul” — and one of the stanzas actually explains why.
“If you cannot preach like Peter
and you cannot act pray like Paul
you just tell the love of Jesus how he died to save us all
Oh, that’s the balm in Gilead.
This way of love it is the way of life.
They got it. He died to save us all.”
He didn’t die for anything, he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He wasn’t getting anything out if it, he gave up his life, he sacrificed his life for the good of others, for the good of the world, for us. That’s what love is.
Love is not selfish and self-centred. Love can be sacrificial and, in so doing, becomes redemptive. That way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world.
If you don’t believe me just stop and think, or imagine. Think and imagine a world where love is the way.
Imagine our homes and families when love is the way.
Imagine neighbourhoods and communities where love is the way.
Imagine goverments and nations where love is the way.
Imagine business and commerce, when love is the way.
Imagine this tired old world when love is the way, when love is the way: unselfish sacrificial, redemptive.
When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.
When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an everflowing brook.
When love is the way, poverty will become history.
When love is the way, the Earth will be a sanctuary.
When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more.
When love is the way, there’s plenty good room, plenty good room for all of God’s children.
And when love is the way, we treat each other like we are actually family.
When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.
My brothers and sisters, that’s a new Heaven, a new Earth, a new world, a new human family. And let me tell you something, old Solomon was right in the Old Testament: that’s fire.
[I Corinthians xiii:4-7]
With this I’ll sit down, we gotta get y’all married.
Dr King was right: “We must discover love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world.”
Our brother, my sister, God love you. God bless you. And may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.