Wonderful Words of Life-Love (4th in a Series)

Jesus said that we should “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” The last time we talked about love, we talked about the joys and difficulties of loving the person who stands or sits before us.

It is sometimes all joy to help someone, especially when our gift of time or money makes their life significantly better, in ways large and small.

My father used to tell the story of how, in the depths of the depression, when he was nine or ten years old, his parents told him and his two brothers, Paul and Darryl, that the family was broke and there would be no presents at Christmas. Dad was reconciled to this hard reality, and, on Christmas morning, he was lingering over breakfast with his family when they heard a knock on the door. His mother sent dad to answer it, and to my father’s surprise he found a little girl from up the street, standing there with a small package in her hand. She was a classmate at school and at church. She gave him the wrapped gift and said, “Merry Christmas, Norwood.” Then she turned and ran back home. When Dad opened his gift, he found a simple little game. It consisted of a small carboard box with a little plastic window. Inside the window was the colorful face of a clown. The object of the game was put six shiny little ball bearings into six small holes, one in each of the clows eyes and nose, and three in his mouth. Dad said that game kept him and his two brother busy—not just on Christmas Day, for a long time thereafter. Dad never called that little girl by name, but her gift meant so much to him, that, when I was a boy, I heard about it every Christmas, or so it seems. Naturally, I usually heard about it just as I was opening a present of my own.

I am quite sure that most of you have been on the opposite side of that equation. You know what it is like to make a gift of time or money to someone who is thereby lifted from their difficulties, real and imagined. Continue reading

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Wonderful Words of Life: Love (3rd in a Series)

Jesus said that there were three loves, the love of God, the love of one’s neighbor, and the love of oneself.

Last week we talked about the love of God, and said that it is easier to love God when everything is going our way. The author of Psalm 16 wrote, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” This is the confession of a young man who has yet to know too much disappointment, pain, or loss. It is harder to love God when things are not going our way, especially if we are strapped for cash, racked with pain, or facing down a terrible grief. People who love God in the face of adversity are the heroes of faith. Like the author of the 4th Psalm, they are wont to confess, “(O Lord) You have put more joy in my heart than some people have when their grain and wine abound.” Continue reading

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Wonderful Words of Life: Love (2nd in a Series)

Deuteronomy 6:4,5, Leviticus 19:18,
Romans 5:5, John 14:15

Last week, in my first sermon on “Love,” I quoted a Baptist deacon, a mentor of President Jimmy Carter’s who said, “There are only two loves, the love of God, and the love of the neighbor who sits, or stands immediately before us.” Though I will let the deacon’s statement stand, and in context, it can. I would be remiss if I did not point out that Jesus defined not two loves, but three. In Mark Chapter 12 Jesus said that “the first and greatest commandment was to love God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength.” He then added, “A second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” That is three loves, God, one’s neighbor, and one’s self. Over the next several weeks, I will take them up, one at a time, beginning with our love for God. Continue reading

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Wonderful Words of Life:  Love (1st in a Series)

This morning we are talking about another of the Wonderful Words of Life. We have talked about faith, and hope. It is only natural that we now talk about love.

In 1st Corinthians 13, St. Paul says, “Faith, hope, and love, abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.”

Why is love the greatest?  Love is the greatest because, of the three, it alone will last.

Hope will not last.  In Romans 8:24, 25 we read, “…hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what we see?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

When we finally look upon the glory of God, we will no longer hope to share it; we will share it.

Likewise, faith will not last.  In Hebrews 11:1 we read, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Eventually our faith  in God will give  way to sight, sound, touch, and experience. Once the object of our faith becomes real to us, then faith is no longer necessary.

Faith and hope belong to time which cannot last, for time has a beginning and an end.  By contrast, love is rooted in Eternity and in the Creator God who has no beginning and no ending. Continue reading

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Wonderful Words of Life-Faith (5th in a Series)

This morning we are talking about Wesley’s Quadrilateral of faith.  We have already discussed the first three sides of the quadrilateral.  1) Scripture, always primary; 2) Tradition, meaning the tradition of the people of God, and 3) Reason in all its legitimate forms.  4) This morning we are talking about the 4th side of the quadrilateral, Experience, meaning the believer’s experience of God, both as an individual and in community.

We start by looking at the experience of our community of faith,  beginning with our own families. Now, in his book, “The Varieties of Religious Experience,” William James opined that he was not interested in the experience of those who “received their religion by tradition and retained it by habit.”  I agree in part, but consider it disingenuous to start our discussion of experience by ignoring those who have come before us. Like most of you, I am a child of the covenant.  My parents were believers, and they offered me to God in baptism. In the Moravian Church we baptize our children based upon “the faith of the parents and of the church.”  Later, I affirmed my baptism in the rite of confirmation, making it my own. Later still, I came to an even more authentic faith apart from any ritual of the church. Continue reading

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