July 1, 2018 – Love Embodied

Text: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Mark 5:21-43

Love. We all need love, but love also needs us. None of us would be here if it weren’t for love. We were created in love. We have been nurtured and fed by love. It’s love that gives us a chance to live day by day and moment by moment. Love makes everything real and possible. Love makes everyone feel alive. Love moves us, guides us, and walks among us. Love blesses us even while we sleep. Love wakes us up every morning, giving us a reason to get out of bed. At the end of a long day, love calms us down, making us feel safe so we can go to sleep with a peace of mind. Love invites us to pay attention to what’s happening in and around us. Love connects us to something bigger than ourselves. Love invites us to see ourselves in others. It never stop challenging us to take steps outside our comfort zones. Love inspires us to reach out to one another, and to stand up for each other especially in times of hardship. It motivates us to choose to be on the margin, the place of possibility and imagination. Love always looks for partners, who can express itself in a new and creative way, who can make it visible or tangible, who can touch other people’s lives with all that love does. Love never assumes, it always asks. Love never takes anything for granted, it is ever grateful. Love is what makes us human, and it is what makes us feel closer to God. Love forgives, heals, reconciles and restores. Love calls us to take actions.

Love speaks. 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter shows us not only what love looks like, but also what it sounds like. It’s love’s speech. I put “I”, the first-person pronoun in the place of the word, “love”, so we can hear the personified love speaks to us directly. ‘I am patient; I am kind; I am not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. I do not insist on my own way; I’m not irritable or resentful; I do not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoice in the truth. I bear all things, believe all things, and endure all things.’

Hear what the love is saying to the church. Listening to love is a powerful experience. We can’t pretend that we haven’t heard. Our conversation with love began long before we even recognized it, before we had the language to understand. The more we get to know love, the harder it is to ignore what it demands. We are disturbed by love when we don’t give it a chance. There is no such thing as lovelessness, the state of being loveless, because love can find a way. To deny love is to disobey God, because God is love. Even in the most broken place we can think of, we can hear love crying out for us. Love unites us. It brings people together.

Many of us have been disturbed by what’s happening in the world these days. Our love deeply hurts. Nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and placed in mass detention centres or foster care as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward those without visas attempting to cross the US-Mexico border. The United Church’s full communion partner the United Church of Christ has said that it “strongly condemns the dismantling of families, the criminalization of the quest for freedom, and the caging of those whose only crime is to seek shelter from harm.” This is not a new issue. In fact it is not unknown to us. Through residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, both the United Church and the Anglican Church participated in or condoned the removal of Indigenous children from their homes and families. We recognize that our actions were rooted in systemic racism and contrary to the call of the gospel. We acknowledge with respect those people, past and present, who we harmed in this practice. Because of this, we feel a responsibility to speak out against current action directed at migrant families in the United States, and the racism and policies that enable it.

The oppressive power structure in whatever form it takes, tries to get rid of the most fundamental human bond – the love between a parent and a child – by separating them. The systemic evil knows what the most powerful tool is for social change: love. Ann Voskamp, the author of One Thousand Gifts said, “Love is the most radically subversive activism of all, the only thing that ever changed anyone.” Mother Teresa also said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

With that in mind, we can listen to today’s reading – 2 Samuel 1 and Mark 5 – and see how the people in those stories let love guide their lives.

In 2 Samuel 1, David learns that Saul and Jonathan have died in the war, and he writes a song of lamentation called, “the Song of the Bow.” David sings of the love that he and Jonathan share. “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” Ever since Jonathan and David met, their lives have been changed and shaped by their love. There are so many beautiful moments created by their love. The Bible says, the soul of Jonathan is bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loves him as his own soul. Jonathan and David make a sacred covenant before God. Then Jonathan strips himself of the robe that he is wearing, and gives it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. The robe, armor, sword and belt. These represent the power, control, strength and authority. But they are not as important as the love he has for David. Many times, Jonathan helps David to escape from the danger as Saul is trying to kill David. At the farewell, before David is going into a safer place, they kiss each other, weep with each other. Then Jonathan says to David, “Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, “The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, forever.” Indeed, their love bears all things, believes all things and endures all things, and nothing is able to separate them from the bond created by love.

In the gospel reading, there are two incidents. First we see Jarius coming to Jesus. When Jarius sees Jesus, he falls at his feet, and begins to beg him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” While they are walking toward the house, a woman, whose name we don’t know, comes up behind Jesus in the crowd and touches his cloak. She has been suffering from a chronic illness for twelve years. She has gone to many doctors, but they haven’t made her any better. She says, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately she feels something change inside her. What the two incidents have in common is that both the father and the woman do not give up their love whether it’s for their loved one or themselves. When everyone thinks it’s too late they give love one last chance. When everyone thinks it’s over they rekindle their love. For love bears, believes and endures all things. Love. We all need love, but love also needs us. Love looks for partners who can embody it in all that we are and all that we do. Love is the most radical subversive activism. We are born to love and to be loved.

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“Keeping Families Together—In the U.S. and Canada” To find out how we can help stop parents from being separated from their children – in both countries visit the United Church of Canada Website. https://www.united-church.ca/news/keeping-families-together-us-and-canada