Super Power of Love
Good morning. It is good to see you. Back to our "regular programming" of 8am and 10am. There is something good about taking a break from routine and then coming back to it!.So, it really is good to see you.
You know at one of my first 8am homily’s at a different church, we read a different excerpt from Paul, his letter to the Philippians. Where he includes one of my favorite, because it’s the reason for faith, he writes – Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I saw rejoice!
I opened my sermon at that 8am service joyfully proclaiming that text, and then went on with whatever it was I said. So after worship standing at the back, shaking hands – an older gentleman, lontime member said, "Look your new at this, so, let me give you some advice. You need to tamp it down for this early service, we come early because it’s quiet.”
I just smiled and said, "Ok, hope you have a great day!" While focusing instead on the voice in my head, of a favorite mentor reminding me, “See Arianne, the hardest part of doing this job, this vocation of love, is getting used to the simple fact that not everyone is going to like you.”
And that is so true! I still, and hope always do, proclaim a joyful text, joyfully. Because that's just who I am, it's how I'm wired. Its what I do. Each of us – our personalities, our talents, our struggles, our experiences – some are shared – but the package, is unique. That wiring, that package of who we are is our greatest gift and treasure.
It's how we share the message of God's love in our world.
So have I gotten all of you to completely forget that Jesus started this morning talking about hate?
Before we get to that, you know another routine we’re back to around here – is our weekly chapel with the Day School. On Tuesday morning I led four 20min worship slots of four classrooms; of four and five year olds (maybe some three’s) in song and story. This week was my first of the fall, I'm meeting each class for the first time, and before the third group it occurs to me, "Hey. Do all of these kids know who Jesus is?”
So the next class, I asked. My favorite response was shouted by a little boy, “Yes he’s a superhero!” to which I said, “Yes, kind of. He’s actually a human being, just like you and me who shows us how to use the super power of love!
They stared back with blank faces. Definitely under appreciating my clever turn of phrase!
But then of course I went on to say Jesus was God's son, who came to tell us and mostly show us that all of us are God’s children. All of us are loved. And we find our happiness and joy, when we share that love, and kindness and compassion with others.
This gospel doesn't sound anything like that. And here's why. Jesus is talking to the crowds. And crowds don't care as much about love, as they care about likes and dislikes. Crowds follow who and what is popular. Crowds tend to like what's fun, fast and easy. So Jesus wants the crowds to understand, he isn't trying to win a popularity contest with who he is.
Jesus is saying, love is powerful which is why it can be hard. Love is power which is why it takes effort, strength and practice. Love will require sacrifice, tears, all of our effort. Love will bring us into conflict with family and friends. People won't always like us, especially when we upset the status quo. Love is the pearl of great price, the treasure of tremendous value. So love will have a cost.
But we know from experience that love – when it’s authentic and true to who we are, true to our values – the hard parts, the cost can also make us stronger.
What's neat about the readings this morning. Is that Paul's personal note to Philemon is a personal plea based on love that asks his friend to weigh the cost of putting love into action. Paul asks Philemon to release Onesimus from being his slave because that relationship won’t work anymore. It doesn’t make sense if we are members of God’s household, God’s family.
Paul wants Philemon to make an economic sacrifice and be an example to the other households that the system needs to change. And that’s gonna cause some arguments and disagreements and not everyone is gonna like it. But Paul reminds Philemon – you’re good, you’re faith is amazing, and we need to show the world how this power of love really makes us feel. We need to show our community what believing in God’s love – and having faith – actually looks like. And Philemon, you have the strength, you have the faith to do this.
Some of you may have an example of the power of love on a viral video this week. Or maybe you caught the match between Osaka and Gauff and the Women's US Open last weekend (9/1/19).
Last Sunday, Naomi Osaka who is 21, and was the reigning US Open champion defeated Cori “CoCo” Gauff who is 15 (!), in two consecutive sets. Earlier in the year Gauff had defeated Venus Williams and a bunch of other top-seeded players (at 15!) – so this was a highly anticipated match.
Afterwards, Osaka walked over to Gauff and asked if she wanted to do the post-match interview with her. Both women are exhausted and emotional – especially Gauff. Osaka repeatedly tells her she played an amazing game and she’s an amazing player. And then says, “Do you want to do the interview with me? All these people are here for you.”
And Gauff replies – “Are you sure, I’m going to cry.”
And Osaka says – You’re good, you’re amazing – and I think its better than going to the showers and crying by yourself. We have to let these people know how you feel.”
And they do the interview together – and if you aren’t crying by the end of that interview – then you have a heart of stone or something. Because watching the camaraderie of that – watching each one of them in the interview authentically sing the praises of the other – well – it’s the power of love.
It builds people up – and it’s not just for Naomi and Coco – it’s for everyone who watches that video. It's for everyone who knows their experience of losing, of giving it your all, of the sacrifice it took to get there.
Because it’s real, it’s authentic. Your heart knows they are being who they are. They’re crying because they're exhausted and because they give everything – blood, sweat, talent and tears into their game. Nothing about the exchange feels phony or fake.
Jesus is being authentic and real in this gospel. Real love – true love – includes grief, sacrifice, different opinions, not always being liked. There is a reason it is such a priceless gift. The treasure money can’t buy.
So let’s do that! Each in our own way – with the unique package that we are. And let’s continue doing and being and seeking ways we can do that in and through this community. Remember that we are seen – we are seen in ways we will never know. We too can step out in courage to support one another and be examples of the power of love, our super power indeed. Amen.