Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Where Is Our Love?"

Micah 5:2-5,Psalm 31:14-16,19-24,Luke 1:46-55

December 20, 2009

by James Greene

 

The word Love in the Old Testament demonstrates the intent of God's Will.It was understood that our first focus is to be upon God. There are many names for God - Elohim, El Shaddai, Ancient of Days, and the Hebrew word 'Love'.One explanation I have heard is that, the most important name of God in the modern Jewish tradition is the one for 'Love'.It is because that Godís love was so pure, and intense that no one could stand in His presence because it would consume them.It is the essence of His integrity in His righteousness.It is this love and this righteousness that He brings to the earth in the incarnation of His Son.

We see this return of love to God in the Psalm of Mary in the reading from Luke this morning.Like Mary, it is the most important thing we can do, as a Child of God. Just as Christ reminded us, our Love toward God requires all of our heart, soul, and strength.If we focus with that intensity, we understand just a little of what it is to be one of God's people, and a part of God's creation.It also reveals what should be the heart of our intent towards all people and our neighbor.It should be done out of care for those around us.†† It is the fundamental element of what it is to be a follower of the Christ, and to be in the spirit and fellowship of community with our fellow man.

 

ILove

†††††††††† We see in our responsive reading from Psalm 31 the continuing theme of Godís unfailing love and goodness towards his people.†† It demonstrates our response:

It is to praise God, to trust in his Providence, and in our faithfulness we are to love the Lord.He will preserve us, and shelter us.We see the importance of love in

I Corinthians 13:V-13ďAnd now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.Ē

 

IIHow do we see - Christian Love?

††††††††† Aggie and the chainsaw.-Once upon a time: there was an Aggie working for a lumber company in East Texas.His job was to cut up the tree limbs into 1 foot pieces to be sold for fire wood.

His first day on the job they gave him a chainsaw and had him go about clearing the limbs off of the trees and then cutting them up.That day, he cut and stacked 2 cords

of wood.

His supervisor said he needed to do better than that, in his work.The next day he did better: and produced 2 1/2 cords of wood.On the third day, he produced

3 cords of wood.The Supervisor came up to him at the end of the day and said: ďAggie whatís wrong?You only did 3 cords of wood.I expected you to be doing better by now

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1

 

The Aggie said: ďWell, Mr. Supervisor, Iíve been trying as hard as I can, but that chainsaw is pretty tough to work withThe supervisor said Ė ďlet me see it.Ē

He gave a pull on the rope and YannnYanyaaaa Ė and it roared to life.

The Aggie said: Ė ďWhatís that noise††

We have to remember: that if we are going to be Godís people, and we want to do something, --- we have to get things started.

†††††††††† We have to become engaged in caring.We have to love God, and love the neighbor, and we have to live it in our walk.It has to come from our heart.We have to start the chainsaw; to become fully effective in our relationship with people and with God.

 

An example of this kind of engaging happened a few years back with the evacuation of the Galveston, and the Houston areas during the approach of hurricane Rita.It was an incredible event and statement of the quality of our culture and society here in Texas.

When you think about how much of a miracle it was to have 1.8 million people get up and move in 24 to 30 hours, and not have any major incidents of violence, and panic.Think of the immense patience of sitting in your car with 1.8 million of your best friends for, 19 hours or more.

And what happened?Neighbor was helping neighbor.People shared food, water, gas, and their faith in what could have been a real tragedy.This was what it meant to be in community.

We, like the Aggie, have to remember to start the chainsaw, if we are to get the work done and make a difference with those around us.We have to start the change in our heart to realize and to see what God is doing in our lives.We, (like Mary),

must share our song and magnify what God has done in the past, and is doing here and now, --and what he will do in the future.

 

IIIThe Text

†††††††††† On this 4th Sunday of Advent we see in our reading from Luke, the focus on Godís Love for all mankind and all creation.†† It is the fulfilling of His Promise to send the Messiah to redeem not only Israel, but all of mankind through the incarnation of His Son the Christ.

 

IVSo, Love

Love is also about the graciousness in relationship, within the body of Christ in the light of Godís blessings.It is a decision of the heart, and the quality of character.It becomes a part of the fiber of our being.It is at the heart of what it is to be a Child of God.It is the element that will out last all other qualities in our character.But we, like the Aggie, must become engaged in caring.

 

We have to realize that God chooses us, (like Mary) for salvation and (like Mary)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2

we must engage and participate in His creation, we must represent and demonstrate the love of God in our character.We do that, by choosing to obey (like Mary) God's call in our lives:--to love God, and to love God's people, and to follow the example demonstrated by The Christ.It is in that realization in our humbleness and faith that we can magnify the Lord, in our response to His call in our lives.

 

By-products of Love: Hope-Peace-Joy-Love-

 

The relational experience, like that of the Trinity.Father-Son-Holy Spirit.

Godís faithful and steadfast Love.Guarantees the fulfillment of his Word.

Love is the fulfillment of Godís promise to creation.It is only the beginning of the cycle.Love gives rise to Hope, which results in Peace, that yields Joy, and is expressed in Love.It brings us full circle in Godís plan.

This is what gives all of us Hope.

 

We have to be willing to let God love us in order to heal us and let

our testament reveal our willingness and desire.It is our preaching through our example to those around us.

 

In the end, with God, it always about, using the spirit God has given us to start and engage the tools and gifts he has given us.We need to share our hearts with each other and in praise of the God of the universe.We have to realize our identity- that we are Godís -and are claimed by God, and we claim God, in our choice for God,

(like Mary) in faith.We become Godís work in the world, bringing The Kingdom into the here and now.We always need to remember who we are (the people of God), remember Whose we are (a child of God), in faith.

 

It comes down to a matter of the heart in Godís economy.He requires that we have a heart for Him and His people, that we care for and about one another.We are called to live in relationship to each other in community in a loving way, because in doing that, we reflect what it is like to be in God's Kingdom, just like what was demonstrated during Hurricane Rita.It is building a fellowship and community of believers that love each other.

 

This is the Advent for us,in our example-††† to help in the healing of Godís people.We must be willing to engage in Godís Love and to show Godís Love in the preaching of our lives.Now is our time, in this season-††† in the running of our race,-

††††† ďAre you willingĒ- to start the chainsaw?Become engaged with the God

who loves us.††† Will we like Mary, --let God love us?†††† Will we let God use us to His greater Glory?Will we let Godís love----- work through us to those around usÖ†††

In the Name of The Father, and The Son, and The Holy Spirit.A-men

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3

 

Celtic Benediction P. 77

In the busyness of this day,†† grant me the stillness of seeing you, Oh Father.

In the conflicting voices,-††† grant me a calmness of hearing.

Let my seeing and hearing ,-†† let my words and my actions

Be rooted in a silent certainty of Your presence.

Let my life be rooted in the ground of your Peace, O God.

†† Let me be rooted in the depths of your love.Amen.

 

Our Father, thought we stray outside of your Will,

Help us to remember always that we are never beyond your Love.

Remind us that we belong to you through Jesus Christ;

that our strength is in you only, that in our weakness you alone

†† are our sure deliverer.

 

†††††††††† Remember to be engaged,---†† you have to Start your chainsaw!

 

†††††††††† "The grace of God, which passeth all understanding,††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††† TBoCP

†††††††††† keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,

††††††††††††††††††††† and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord:

†††††††††† And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

††††††††††††††††††††† be amongst you and remain with you always."