In his Wednesday morning blog, Catholic Priest and Theologian Richard Rohr made the conclusion that because Jesus’ fundamental vision was that all people are ‘children of God’ whenever he met a person he would have therefore believed that God was somehow present in them.
And any of us who take or have taken a yoga class would be familiar with that theological statement. After all, at the end of each class as you bow to your yoga instructor and say ‘Namaste’ which is the Hindu statement that the divine in me salutes the divine in you. Even though the statement is Hindi, it sits well with us. We know God is in everything. And if we look and open ourselves to experience it, God can be experienced in all of creation.
And this morning’s scripture passage takes this knowledge of God’s presence even further as it discusses that one of the gifts of loving another is that you get to experience a taste of God’s love within it. Listen now to verses 7-12 of the 4th chapter of John’s first letter found way back in the New Testament.
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
This morning is Mother’s Day. And it is the single largest holiday for flower sales in our country, even outselling Valentine’s Day. And after Easter and Christmas Eve, it is the largest attended worship service. Yes…. perhaps it is another holiday promoted by the card and flower industry, but there is something emotionally gripping about it.
Mothers and the people who are the maternal figures in our lives are extremely important to us. We feel and know without a doubt that the special bond, that special love that parents share with their children is something for which we should be grateful and to which we should give thanks.
And as you listened to the statements made by our church mothers giving tributes to mothers or mother-like figures in their lives, it became apparent.
Unconditional love, security, the gift of life are all things for which we gave tribute and thanks. I was personally blessed to have a grandmother and a mother in my life who were central figures as I grew up and are still with me even now that they are deceased, as I now carry them in my heart.
And the writer John catches this. John knows that love is important. It comes from God and is a gift from God. The knowledge that we are loved might be the single most important fact to help us navigate life. I always have said that the ministry to children of our church and the greatest gift we can give them is that when they go out into the world, they do so with strong faith and conviction that they are loved unconditionally by God.
And this love which we share with one another, with the world in which we live, with our family, our friends, and even our pets offer us another gift. Through the many loves we share with others, we also experience and know God.
God’s love is greater than our understanding. We know it in part but cannot comprehend it in total. But we catch glimpses of it in the gifts of love given to us. When someone loves us so much they can forgive us for our imperfections, we catch a glimpse of God’s unconditional love. When someone loves us too much they are unselfish in their giving, we understand the sacrificial aspect of God’s great love. Many of the qualities of the love for which we thank our parents are in part the small glimpses of what God is.
And we are promised to see God in the love we share with others.
This is a charge to us as to how we live as believers of a loving God. We are to love others, imitating God’s love, in order that we experience God.
Each week, during this pandemic, the ministers in our Presbytery have a Zoom conference call with each other and with our Presbytery staff. It has helped me put the sadness and overwhelming loss the Corona Virus has spread on the world into a theological framework. I keep asking myself, where is God and where is God’s good news in all this? And I have found, dear friends, it is right here within us. It is in our love. It is within our community and the care we have for each other. It is in the food pantry that we operate.
It is in every thank you we say to each person that is working on the front line during this time we must quarantine ourselves.
It is in every household where someone is called to see how they are doing. It is in every breath and long exhale taken to let out the anxiety held up inside.
God is here. God is in the love we give and the love we receive. God is in our hopes for the future and the hand that calms us when we have trouble finding that hope.
God’s love does not abandon nor does it give up. To quote French novelist Victor Hugo, ‘To Love another person is to see the face of God.’ Amen.