Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 13 Sermon

How did the Beatles put it? Oh yes…
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
Love is all we need.

The Beatles song may be a bit simple but there is a truth in that statement.

When the Israelites were fighting for their lives in a distant country, when they longed to hear words of comfort, the prophet Isaiah provides words from God that changed everything…
Thus says the Lord, “I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you…”
To the Israelites who must have felt that God was very distant, these words provided comfort and reminded them that God was with them through all their trials, through fire and rain as James Taylor would put it.

But not only that, God utters three little words, we all long to hear: I love you.

We say it to our children. We say it to our spouse. We say it to loved ones, our family and friends. Here God is saying it to his creation: I love you.

I believe that if more people felt that God loved them, most of the violence and death, the darkness of this world would disappear…

God loves you. Say it to yourself.

In one of the visions that St. Catherine of Sienna had, she listens to what God has to say about our souls:
"The soul cannot live without love. She always wants to love something because love is the stuff she is made of, and through love I created her."
Love is what created us, love is the stuff we are born from, we cannot live without love.

Hear the words of another ancient mystic, St. Julian of Norwich:
“And in this he showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed to me, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: What can this be? I was amazed that it could last, for I thought that because of its littleness it would suddenly have fallen into nothing. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and always will, because God loves it; and thus everything has being through the love of God.”
We live because of God’s love. From our very beginning God has loved us, the one who formed us in the womb, is the one who walks with us every day, who loves us.

And just as Jesus heard the words after his baptism: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” so too when we were baptized, just as Kiernan Alexander will be this morning, it is God who responds to our faithful act of dedication saying “You are my Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

And from that love we respond with our lives, again the visionary words of St. Catherine of Sienna: God says, “"They love their neighbors with the same love with which they love me."

How do we show such love? A story from the Today Show:
When Brenna graduated from high school this past June, her mom and dad gave her a special copy of the Dr. Seuss classic Oh, The Places You Will Go. Brenna loved the book as a child - but this was something much more.

On the first page was a paragraph written by Brenna's kindergarten teacher. And as she turned each page, Brenna read notes and remembrances written by every teacher she had. At the end of every school year for the past 13 years, Brenna's dad asked every one of her teachers, principals and coaches to write something about her in the book. All happily did so. Brenna had no idea what her father was up to.

Yes, the book had the intended effect, Brenna wrote. "I burst out in tears. Sitting there reading though this book, there are encouraging and sweet words from every teacher I love and remember through my years in this small town. It is astounding to receive something this moving, touching, nostalgic and thoughtful. I can't express how much I love my dad for this labor of love."

Brenna's dad turned a simple children's book into the gift of a lifetime. [TODAY (NBC)]
Such an act of love from father to daughter, is a powerful reminder of the gift of love we can give to one another. Whether it is in daily acts of love to our family and friends, or random acts of kindness and love to strangers, each time we act in this we are reminding ourselves of the words that God has said to us from the beginning, I love you, and we respond with love in return.

Remember this love every day because love is all you need: May you be happy, May you be free, May you be loving, May you be loved. (Father William) Amen.

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