(Genesis 29:15-28; Romans 8:26-39) J G White
Sunday, Aug 6, 2017, UBC Digby
The things we do for love…
Like walking in the rain and the snow
When there’s nowhere to go
And you’re feelin’ like a part of you is dying
And you’re looking for the answer in her eyes
You think you’re gonna break up
Then she says she wants to make up
What would you do for love? Perhaps I should be asking, ‘what have you done for love?’
Love changes us, doesn’t it? Our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, our habits, our routine all shift and point in a new direction when, well, when love happens.
Jacob in the ancient Middle East does so much for love, for the love of Rachel. (in a very different, ancient culture)
He is willing to work for Laban seven years in order to marry his daughter.
Those seven years seem but a few days to Jacob.
Then, he is willing to work another seven years for Rachel, when he gets tricked into marrying Leah first!
This is a God story, from our Holy Bible. Why do we have such stories in these pages? It’s just a love story, an ancient soap opera! ‘The Young and the Bedouin.’
Human life is about love and relationships. This is where God is too. God is love, we say. We say this because it says as much here in the New Testament.
So often, human love and God love have seemed to us like very different things, like comparing apples and oranges. But love is bigger than the categories we have used to box it in. The mystics–such as John of the Cross, Teresa of Ávila, and the author of The Song of Songs in the Bible–are those who put it together very well. The Sufi mystic Hafiz (c. 1320-1389) writes Persian poetry with such integration between human love and divine love that the reader often loses the awareness of which is which. Let the distinctions fall away as you read Hafiz’s poem “You Left a Thousand Women Crazy”:
When you walked through the city
So beautiful and so naked,
You left a thousand women crazy
And impossible to live with.
You left a thousand married men
Confused about their gender.
Children ran from their classrooms,
And teachers were glad you came.
And the sun tried to break out
Of its royal cage in the sky
And at last, and at last,
Lay its Ancient Love at Your feet.
Yes, Hafiz is talking about God’s abundant presence walking through the streets of time and city, but his images come from human fascinations and feelings. Yes, he is talking about seething human desire, but he is also convinced that it is a sweet path to God. (Richard Rohr)
We do so much for love, in response to the love we experience from the Master. We sing our own love poetry to the Redeemer:
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever. (William O. Cushing)
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine,
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.
(William R. Featherstone)
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
(Joel Houston | Matt Crocker | Salomon Ligthelm 2012)
We would do so much for love, the love of God.
What would God do for love?
The very nature of God, therefore, is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature on this earth. – Catherine LaCugna
Paul asked, If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?
God is on our side. And remember, Paul also wrote: the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. God is so concerned about you God talks about you. One advantage of understanding God as three persons, not just one, is the picture we get of the Holy Spirit talking with God and with Jesus – the three of them talking about you, about me. And They are for us!
Our Faith is about close connections and relationships. And that makes all the difference in the world.
Richard Rohr suggests we Look at the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His heart is out in front of his chest. It may not be great art, but it is great theology. The heart is given, and the price is paid. When we attach, when we fall in love, we risk pain and we will always suffer for it. (Richard Rohr, June 28, 2016)
So then, we can exclaim, with Paul, that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. We are not promised that we will not have trouble or hardship or pain. We are promised the presence of the Divine Love.
Can Trouble separate us from Love?
The Love of God will not separate us from this list of things. Yet such things as these cannot separate us from God’s Love.
When we are in the arms of Love, we face the real hardships of life differently. Our life is changed, even when the events are still what they are.
And we realize that there is more love within us to care for others and treat them better. Instead of noticing how others go wrong, all the time, we shift gears and notice more of the ways they do well.
Love changes our lives. This we celebrate when we gather for God. This we celebrate as we bid loved ones farewell, and welcome others. This we celebrate as we struggle through the hardest moments of life. This we celebrate as we glimpse all that God does because of love for us.