Monday, February 21, 2011

All You Need Is Love!

This sermon was inspired by a presentation given by Rev. Dr. Stephen Bouman at the Metro New York Synod Assembly.

Before I began the sermon I played the song, "All You Need Is Love" by the Beatles.

I love the Beatles.
I was not born when the Beatles broke up.
But I was given a love of this band by one of my aunts.
For years she would argue that the Beatles were the greatest group ever and I was missing out on something by not listening to them.
At that time in my life I was into heavy metal.
I was listening to groups like Anthrax, Mega Death, Motley Crue etc..
I thought the Beatles were simply about silly love songs.
My aunt eventually prevailed and she gave me a great gift, the gift of silly love songs.
Songs like the “All You Need Is Love”.
This morning I want us to consider the power of silly love songs.
The power of the silly little songs of love we pass one from one person to the next.
A couple of years ago I bought my children the Kids Bop version of Beatles songs.
And the song, “All You Need is Love” is on that CD.
We were listening to it one day in the car and singing along.
My daughter then five years old said, “Daddy you know this song. Well it says all you need is love and that is nice, but you know you kinda need money too.”
I bet she is not alone in thinking this way.
Many of us secretly believe that love simply is not enough.
That life includes love, but it is only an idea that has nothing to do with the real world.

This morning Jesus challenges us again with his teachings about love.
Love for Jesus is more than idea.
It is an action.
It is a disciplined action that we are confronted with everyday.
Are we going to act in the old way?
“You have heard it said an eye for an eye”
Or are we going to walk in the new way.
“But I tell you love your enemies pray for those that persecute you.”
The crowd that Jesus was talking to in the Sermon on the Mount knew about persecution.
They knew what it was like to be trampled on and forgotten.
Every day they were confronted with the indignities of being a people oppressed by an occupying power.
Jesus words are not pie in the sky wishful thinking.
They are concrete actions that help us confront the evil of the world.
If you want to eradicate evil it is no use to try to do it with evil, only good will win.
Only love can defy hate.
Only non-violence can crush violence.
We have seen this play out many times in human history.
Ghandi’s revolution in India, civil rights in our own country, and more recently in the middle east we are seeing once again the power of people using non-violence resistance to defeat powerful evil.
All of these are powerful testimony to the truth of Jesus’ words we hear this morning.

This might be simply a silly little love song, but it has a power beyond that of the most powerful army of the world.
And that is the wonder of our faith.
That at the center of the universe is the beating heart of an all loving God.
We can talk about God in many ways.
There are many attributes about God.
There are many ways that God calls us to follow him.
But what is at the start of every discussion of the God we know through Jesus Christ is that God is love.

It is the bases for everything we know about God.
Why did God create the world?
Out of love.
Why did God make a covenant with Noah?
Out of love.
Why did God call Abraham?
Out of love.
Why did God rescue Israel from slavery.
Out of love.
Why did God give the law to Moses?
Out of love.
Why did God send his only Son?
Out of love.

The very first thing that we should be telling our children about God is that God is love.
The reason we have Sunday school is so our kids know the silly little love songs that God sings to them every day.
The reason why we gather here on Sunday morning is to sing silly little love songs to God, and hear God’s love song to us.
This morning we will sing songs about God’s love “Then let the servant church arise a caring church that longs to be a partner in Christ’s sacrifice.”
“Jesus, thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love thou art; visit us with thy salvation, enter every trembling heart.”
Silly little love songs that speak of the foundation of our faith in a loving God.
They are important because they tell us of the life that we want.
The life we desire is a life of love.

It is a life that knows how to turn the other cheek.
The life that is so filled with love that it is not threatened by its enemies; it is not threatened by its persecutors.
This life is only possible through Jesus Christ.
When Jesus tells us to, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
He is not telling us that the expectation is to live without moral imperfections.
He is telling us to be whole.
To know the fullness of God’s intention for us is.
And that is love.
To be full of love, and to live that love out in our everyday lives.
The old saying is true, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
That is why it is not foolishness to believe.
It is why we pass on those silly little love songs.
Because we want to live fully into what God has planned not just for us but for all people.

St. Paul said it best, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
When we know of God’s love we allow it to dwell in our hearts and it overflows even to our enemies.
That is how much love God has to give us, enough that it can flow even those people that we don’t like, or whose ideas make our skin crawl.
That is what it means to be whole to fulfill the role that God has given us as the Church and as individual Christians striving to be more Christ like in our daily lives.

And that is why we share those silly love songs, it is why we come here on Sunday morning and here the same stories told again and again.
It is why we sit through sermon after sermon.
We are reminded each time of that great song of God’s love for us.

A couple of weeks ago we were invited by the Smith family to go sledding in Bow after worship.
My son Charlie and I were walking up the hill together so we could sled down.
As we walked Charlie reached out and grabbed my hand and sang, “I want to hold your haaand. I want to hold your hand.”
The Beatles Kids bop had worked Charlie knew his Beatles songs.
I hope that he will always know the silly little love songs that produce in us the ability to reach out in love.
The ability to take someone’s hand and walk in harmony.
I hope he knows that the power of God’s love can not only transform his life, but the world.

It might seem silly, overly optimistic, even foolish.
But I do believe that all we need is love.
I believe in those silly love songs passed on to me from my aunt, and the other saints who have gone before me.
Most of all I believe in God’s love given to me in Jesus Christ that spills out of me into even my enemies.
As Mother Teresa once said, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”
So may your day and your life be filled with silly little love songs.

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