Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of May 17, 2020

Link to Worship Video for 5/17/20 – HERE
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Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 5/17/20 – HERE

Link to Bible Discovery Resources for 5/17/20 – HERE
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First Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:7-21
Holy Gospel: John 14:15-21

Message: “Beloved… Be Loved… Be Love”

There are many parts of Scripture that I have committed to memory, not because I have made the conscious effort to do so, but because of the power of music and song.  The words from our first lesson today are such an example. I’m not sure who wrote the melody to the Scripture but every time I hear 1 John 4:7-8, I automatically hear that song in my head and it is music to my ears (click HERE to listen to this song via a YouTube clip). I then think about some of the times and places I have sung that song and my mind goes to being in Vacation Bible School or my time working at Arrowhead Lutheran Camp as a counselor. I recall the love of God for me and how I was able to be the hands and feet of Jesus for others.

I remember those who have loved me, and I ponder the great love that Jesus has given to me, secured by the Spirit and guaranteed in my Baptism.

In the weeks since we have been separated from one another I have retreated to the world of music often. Music is something that brings me peace that helps settle my troubled heart and that brings me hope, joy, and comfort. The words and the music speak to me in ways that I find hard to put into my own words. Martin Luther once said, “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through Music.”

For me, music brings great comfort. When things are hard, when life is tough, when I am at my end and my heart is troubled: I sing, I listen, and I am at peace. It may not always be words of Scripture, but words I learned as a child that remind me that I am the beloved of God. That word “beloved” is a word that we don’t often use in day-to-day conversation. But that word is a powerful and joy filled lyric for these troubling times. We used it at the beginning of worship as we rejoice in the fact that we are the beloved of God, gathered in homes, separated yet together as those whom God loves. We sing of the love of God in worship as we are reminded of His presence and are standing before The Almighty. As the beloved of God, we encounter a Divine love song from the lips of The Composer of the Universe Himself.

This song was begun as the planets were first spun, it has been sung to those who were exiled and afraid and lonely throughout the generations. This song crosses all ethnic and economic boundaries, and finds its crescendo on the cross and culmination in an empty tomb and this song of love is sung over you and comes directly to you in the real and abiding presence of The Promised Comforter.

The prophet Zephaniah wrote the following:

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you;
 in his love he will no longer rebuke you,  but will rejoice over you with singing.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

This is the song of love that we find in 1 John chapter 4. Being called beloved is a tender reminder of your standing as a child of the King. This love was sung over you as you were formed in the womb, brought to the waters of Baptism, were gathered in His house, and even when you are in your own home. This love is sung not based on any goodness, or worthiness or merit in you, but solely out of the divine love of Christ. This love is a gift and is what Jesus was getting to in our Gospel lesson. In some foreshadowing of Pentecost, Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit who sings a love song, the notes of which bring the presence of the Savior to comfort and to bring life.

But it’s not always easy to sing along with this love song. The love song of God to His beloved is filled with harmony, and melody but often times we would rather sing our own song. We don’t like to be loved because to be loved means to be vulnerable, and that my friends is a hard thing to do. By nature, the songs we compose ourselves are selfish stanzas of solitude, with the idea that we have it all figured out and we don’t need anyone else.

Time and time again the lyrics of my song are about wrestling control from God or manipulating my relationship with my Lord.  Worse yet, I write stanza after stanza that rationalize my behavior and set it to a tune of my own choosing that is neither pleasant nor peaceful. What song have you attempted to write? 

·         Is it filled with bargains or battles? 
·         Does it manipulate or devastate?
·         Does your own song try and force your own agenda?
·         Does your song demonstrate dissonance with the Divine?

To be loved means to give up the writing credits of your life and to let another write the song of your heart, to bring undeserved love into your life. To be loved means to give up control, to trust that God’s got this, to know that you’ve got God. To be loved is at the heart of God’s song, sung over you. This song doesn’t just bring a fleeting emotion but the abiding presence of The Comforter for you, personally.  This love song lingers, its lyrics hang heavy in the air, and its palpable presence provides peace.

In these times of pandemic paranoia, where hearts are troubled and perhaps you are not feeling much comfort, let alone love, Jesus promises to sing a song of love over you, He promises the very presence of God will be with you. Here the words of Christ again, “I will not leave you all alone. I will come back to you.  In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. You will live because I live.  On that day you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me and that I am in you.  Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:18-21)

Listen to the love song of the Lord:
·         You are not alone!
·         He will come back!
·         You will live!
·         You are loved and you can be love to others!

The amazing part here, is that even as I furiously attempt to write my own song of love, Jesus sings over me and puts His song in my mouth.  His love flows through me in words and actions and as I sing His song of love, that love brings the presence of Jesus to others. That blows my mind.  God promises to be present in love.  If it’s hard to hear the lyrics of love from Jesus or to find ways to be love to others I invite you to listen to how Jesus expressed love and how it is sung over you.

When Jesus was misunderstood, He loved.  When He was rejected; when He was criticized; when He was threatened; when He was falsely accused; when He was arrested, beaten, crowned with thorns, whipped, and railroaded to a cross, He kept on loving.  Even from the cross, as He looked down through the blinding pain, past the weight of your sin, He loved enough to forgive the people who had put Him there.  How did Jesus love? He loved sacrificially, completely, consistently, totally. His love did not grow when the crowds proclaimed Him 'King', and it did not diminish when they called for His crucifixion.  His love did not falter or fail, weaken or wane when He was accused and abandoned, nor did it intensify or increase when He was acclaimed and applauded. From His first breath in Bethlehem until His last shout of victory on Calvary's cross, Jesus loved. He loved His friends, His enemies, and everyone in between. He sang this song of love so you and I and all of humanity could be brought to faith and saved from the enslavement of sin, the shackles of Satan, and the damnation of death.  And because of Jesus, you are the beloved of God and have been unconditionally loved. You have been rejoiced over with singing so that you can be love.  This is love: God has sent His Son to save you... to live for you and to suffer for you and to be crowned with thorns for you and to carry your sins, all your sins to the cross for you, to die for you and to rise again to bring you life.  All this He did so you could be His beloved.  This is music to my ears and comfort for my troubled heart.

May His love song bring comfort to yours. May you experience His love as He is present with you in the Spirit and may you be love as Christ works through you to sing over others who are the beloved of God. 

Beloved, be loved, be love!
-Pr. Seth Moorman


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