By Don Sheffel, Lay Servant
This is the day that the Lord has made... Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Rejoice! God loves you and there is nothing that you need to do to receive the Holy Spirit. Sit back, take a slow deep breath and say quietly, " God loves me, I am forgiven, I am valued, I am part of the eternal I Am." Now look at your neighbor and say quietly, "God loves you. You are forgiven. You are valued, You are part of the eternal I AM. Now in unison say God Loves us, we are forgiven, we are valued, We are part of the eternal I am.
God is everywhere in the universe. God is the universe and has been expanding in space for 13.7 billion years. God is all that exists. Think this thought. I am part of the eternal I AM. What I do is important. We are God's hands and feet, cobblers and neurosurgeons, believers and co-creators, and we exhibit Agape, Christian love.
Consider what these words mean. Open your minds and allow a sense of community to enfold you. Invite the Holy Spirit into your consciousness and hear Paul's words from Corinthians:
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but do not love, I am nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God's words with power, revealing all of his mysteries and make everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to the mountains, "jump" and they jump but I do not love, I am nothing
If I give everything to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a Martyr, but do not love, I've gotten no where. So no matter what I say, what I believe and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than it's self.
Love does not want what it does not have
Love does not strut
Love does not have a swelled head
Does not force itself on others
Is not ALWAYS ME FIRST
Does not fly off the handle
Does not keep score of the sins of others
Does not revel when others grovel
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth
Puts up with anything
Trusts God always
Always looks for the best
Never looks back
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach it's limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like an infant. When I grew up I left those infant ways for good.
We do not yet see things clearly. We are squinting into a fog, peering through the mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We will see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as He knows us
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly and love extravagantly. And the best of these three is love.
Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it--because it does.
An ancient folk story speaks of love in these terms:
A woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not know them. She said, "I do not know that I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat."
"Is the man of the house home," they asked.
"No" she said, "he is out".
"Then we can not come in", they replied.
In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened. Go tell them that I am home and invite them in.
The woman went out and invited the men in. " We do not go into a house together" they replied.
"Why is that," she wanted to know.
One of the men explained. His name is wealth, he said pointing to one of his friends and said pointing to another one," he is success and I am love". "Now go and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home"
The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. How nice he said. Since that is the case let us invite wealth. Let him come in and fill our house with wealth!
His wife disagreed. My dear why don't we invite success?
Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion. Wouldn't it be better to invite Love? Our home would be filled with love.
Let us heed our daughter-in-laws advice, said the husband to his wife. Go out and invite love to be our guest.
The woman went out and asked the three old men, which one of you is love? Please come in and be our guest.
Love got up and started walking toward the home. The other two got up and followed him. Surprised the lady asked wealth and success, I only invited love, why are you coming too.
The old men replied together; if you had invited wealth or success, the other two of us would've stayed out, but since you invited love where ever he goes, we go with him. Wherever there is love there is also wealth and success.
Where there is pain we wish you peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubting we wish you renewed confidence in your ability to work through the problem. Where there is fatigue and exhaustion we wish you love and courage.
In the commentary preceding the Book of John the translator Peterson notes that the two most difficult things to get straight are Love and God. More often than not the mess people make in their lives can be traced to failure or stupidity in one or both of these areas. His basic biblical Christian conviction is that the 2 subjects are intricately related. If we want to deal with God in the right way, we have to learn to love in the right way. If we want to love the right way, we have to deal with God the right way. God and love cannot be separated. If we love one another God dwells deeply inside of us and His love becomes complete in us--His perfect love dwells deeply inside of us. God is love, love that takes up permanent residence inside us, casting out fear, fear that is crippling. First we are loved, then we love. God loves us first.
I will close with a poem written by my favorite theologian, Bishop John Spong.
I still seek to possess what I believe you are Jesus: access and embodiment of the source of life, the source of love, the ground of being, a doorway into the mystery of holiness.
It is through this doorway that I desire to walk. Will you meet me there? Will you challenge me, guide me, comfort me, reveal your truth to me and in me?
Finally at the end of this journey, Jesus, will you embrace me, comfort me inside the ultimate reality that I call God in whom I live and move and have my being? That is my goal.
Praise God. Oh Lord, open our eyes that we can see; open our ears that we can hear; open our minds that we may understand that you are the ground of all being; and in Jesus who manifested that gift of being there is neither east or west; tribe nor ethnicity; male or female; gay or straight; true believer nor heretic; Christian nor Jew, Muslim nor Buddhist. We are only a God filled humanity, wonderfully diverse, yearning to live; eager to love; daring to be all that we can be; wanting to journey in community into the wonder and mystery of the God who is being itself. In love we pray, show us the way.
Diana Hunter is our Senior Pastor;