Love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. this is he first commandment and the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40.
I had a vision once. What is the root and meaning of life. The answer was one word: Love. Ofcourse I’d been hearing this in a thousand ways in my life. But this was a true awakening for me. It meant like Teilhard de chardan taught “ that the whole creation is infused with love. The atoms are attracted to one another, planets galaxies suns all live in relationship to each other. the sexual impetus draws us at our best toward a tenderness that manifests love. A child at her mother’s breast, a dog looking at me at the altar rail and inviting a blessing and becoming for me the eyes of Christ. Saying. “I am here”.
Jesus refines the whole teaching of the law into three step dance. A waltz, or a Cha cha?
He’s asked by his listeners, “What is the summary of the law? He answers,
First,“Love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. The second is like the first, love your neighbor as yourself.” Love God, love neighbor, love yourself. The church fathers and mothers talked about the Trinity as a dance or a water wheel. The Father/Mother God pours love into the Son, the Christ, and the Christ pours love into the spirit and the spirit flows back to God, round and round. It’s all love.
Now we in the English speaking world only have one word for love. CS Lewis. Who wrote the Narnia series was also a linguist. He wrote that the Greeks have four words for love. Storge: I love ice cream for example is the most basic form of affection. Filia, is brotherly sisterly love, friendship, Eros which is what we most think of when we think of love, passion, sexual, It is also the temptation to stop there. Some of us don’t like to talk about love because it is so identified with the previous three loves. Agape is the highest form of love, It is unconditional, expects nothing in return. Some call it givenness. A total mirroring back of acceptance and forgiveness. The love that endures all things, hopes all things, believes all things. The Love that never ends. Until death and beyond.
Love, which might be called the attraction of all things toward all things, is a universal language and underlying energy that keeps showing itself despite our best efforts to resist it. I’m not going to say that the squirrels and the birds that so enraptured my granddaughter as she looked out our back window that they are not a part of the divine. She so totally in the flow of wonder and discovery, already knows this energy whatever we call it. And we also know resistance and coldness when we feel it. All the rest are mere labels.
I’m remembering how we would gather in the church and relish in the time together. We gathered as a family, a community of friends and to be in communion with the holy. I found so many times that love kept breaking through. Julian saying Amen out loud, how he had to help with the offering and Pam would help him light the candles. His every movement was an invitation to see the divine is right here, present in this small boy. The same with his sisters, Makaela who so beautifully assisted with communion and Audrey who served and sang and played and helped write plays and build sets. With all you who came to serve at the coffee hour, and the altar guild.
And the music, and the lay readers and Eucharistic ministers. And your open-hearted welcoming of strangers and those whose lives were in turmoil.
The Christ was everywhere, in and through us all and flowing and pouring out that divine love into the community. And still is. I truly miss being together with you all. And you know the way to love, you know the flow of divine life and energy and love when you see it. And you know resistance and closed hearts when you see it too.
There is no where in the Christian Scripture where you will find this resistance to love. It flows like an ever flowing stream and waters the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.
Whether physically together or together on Zoom, We are still so blessed.
The following are some notes I didn’t use in the sermon. At the end of this section, you may like to try James Finley’s meditation….
We used to say these words at the beginning of the Eucharist. It was imprinted on each one of us that at the very root of our faith was this absolute trust in the love of God. And that we will find God in all that is, in all times and space, in all beings, in our neighbors and strangers, in times of suffering and in times of joy. In tears and laughter.
And we will find the dwelling of God within us, the beloved of the divine. God doesn’t love us If we change, God loves us so we can change. Says Richard Rohr.
Of course we made even this primary commandment to love into a small God, into ways to exclude others, to discriminate between who is worthy of love. Even ourselves, we treat as if we are certainly unlovable by the divine. I say to myself, “ Now Bob, God can’t really love that about you.” And the answer comes, “I love you, I love you.”
It’s really like a river: We are invited to step into the flow of divine love and grace, let the river flow around and in and through us, even the torrents after a rain storm, to become the flow of love as the current of life moves and propels us. You and I are loved. And the secret is, Love is busting out everywhere, Look into the night sky, or the sunrise or sunset, there is the new day dawning or ending, there is another twenty four hours of reality that we can live in either seeing it what it is. Letting ourselves be in the presence whatever it is with a trust that this day is moving us into love.
James Finley a former priest teaches a meditation that goes like this: “On the in breath God says: “I love you.” On the out breath back to God we say, ‘I love you.” On and on until words fall away and we become the presence of God.