Saturday, May 19, 2018

Easy to Love


I was thinking a lot about love this week because of today's Gospel.
"Abide in my love" Jesus tells us.
I have preached on numerous occasions that love is difficult.
How love takes discipline and devotion.
That is true.
Love can be difficult at times.
It is most assuredly difficult to love those that can't or won't love us back.
It is difficult to love people who are unlovable.
This week I experienced something different.
On Tuesday I went to a prayer vigil for immigrants facing deportation.
At that vigil I heard the stories of people living life in fear.
I heard stories of immigrants that don't feel welcomed here, even if they are citizens.
What I felt while listening to those stories was love.
Love for those people who are having to go through very difficult times.
My heart was big and I felt that I wanted for all of them a better life.
This is what Aristotle and Aquinas called the love that wills another's good.
I wasn't mad, I just felt love.
Also on Tuesday I met with some of my colleagues from Concord for lunch and sharing.
We shared about things happening in our lives.
Some very difficult things.
And what I felt in that meeting more than anything was love.
Love for these people who I got to share intimate hurts with.
On Wednesday night I went and heard from Combatants for Peace.
People from Palestine and Israel who used to serve in the military who now advocate  for peace.
Again, I heard difficult stories of violence and injustice.
I heard stories of fear and prejudice.
But also of redemption and forgiveness.
And all I could feel in those moments was love for the people telling them and for the people of that region who are locked in a long struggle for peace.
As I went about my other tasks as pastor.
Bible Study, committee meetings, delivering health kits,  Cinco de Mayo lunch with one of our members.
I remember that our community is built on love.
I feel love when we are together doing the work of the church,  building relationships, giving for others, planning worship.
I was amazed how easy it was this week to experience love.

And that is what I want us to talk about today.
How easy it is to love.
It is true that love can be difficult, but this morning I want us to know it can also be easy.

It can be easy not because people are easy to love, not because the world is wonderful all the time.
It can be easy to love because we here this morning believe in Jesus Christ who came to show us God's love.
Christians are about love.
Jesus told us this morning, "Abide in my love".
Because of this love should be for us easy.
It should be second nature.
When we are confronted with people that are suffering or hurting we should think about Jesus Christ suffering for us and remember that Jesus suffers along with the world because of his love for the world.
When we are confronted with someone who is deemed unlovable.
We should remember that Jesus loves us.
Jesus loves us even though we don't deserve it, we haven't earned it.
Jesus just loves us.
There are times I feel or think I am unlovable, and yet Jesus loves me anyway.
Jesus tells us this morning, "You did not choose me but I chose you."
We are here this morning because Jesus chose to love us.

Love is a constant theme in John's Gospel.
It is a thread that runs through the whole thing.
From John 3:16 ("for God so loved the world) all the way until the end.
Everything Jesus does and says is to show us God's love.
In John's Gospel Jesus dies on the cross so that we might see his love for us.
And when we remember Jesus' love then love isn't so hard.
When we recall that Jesus loves the world.
Jesus loves his disciples.
Jesus loves the sinner.
Jesus loves us.
Then love is just what we are about.

So when we are out there in the world.
When we are hearing difficult stories about hatred, injustice, prejudice, and violence.
When we are confronted with people who seem unlovable.
When we are confronted with new information that doesn't seem to go along with what we thought.
When we are told stories of other people that are different from ours.
It is natural to feel love, to reach out with that love.
At the vigil after we heard a story from one of the immigrants we would pray this prayer, "Dear God of love help us to love."

I have been accused at times of preaching about politics.
I accept that some people see it that way.
I want you to hear me out this morning about this.
My defense of it is that for me it is not about politics.
It is about love.
I am not telling you this morning what you should think about any political issue.
I am telling you that regardless of the person you encounter in life you should love them, not because I said it, but because you know that Jesus loves you.
I know that everything is political, because certain people twist things to make it about who we vote for, or which side we are on.
But what I as your pastor am always trying to get you to see is that it is about love.
"Loving your neighbor"
Abiding in Jesus love.
To be present with people that are suffering, to pray with them, sing with them, hope with them, to love them.
That might be political but it is also what Jesus calls us to do.
Love is political, because someone will always say that you can't love that person.
They are not the right person.
Jesus encountered this all the time.
It wasn't right that he ate with gentiles, with prostitutes, with tax collectors, with the poor, with the rich.
I would hope that you expect nothing less of your pastor.
I would hope you would want a pastor who loves, and who is in the world trying to show that love to others.
If you don't want it from me, it means you don't want it from yourself either.
And if that is true then it is a problem, because we are not abiding in the love of Jesus.
That is what a church is a group of people abiding in the love of Jesus Christ.
And that love is to exist when we are together, and when we are out there in the world doing whatever it is that we are doing.

This week I hope you think about love.
I hope you see how easy it can be to love.
Because you know of Jesus' love for you.
You know that Jesus is your friend.
You know that Jesus choose you.
Abide in that truth.
Live in that truth.
And when you do it will be easy to love.
Amen



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