Sunday, December 08, 2013

Sermon, "An "Advent"ure of . . . Love", by Pastor Ruth Foss, Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church, December 8, 2013

December 8, 2013
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Sermon 2 of          Advent Series
“An “Advent”ure To the Stable”
1 Corinthians 13:13 New Living Translation
1 John 4:9-11 New Living Translation
Romans 8:37-39 New Living Translation
“Kneeling in Bethlehem” by Ann Weems

An “Advent”ure of. . . Love”
A reading from the Book of Roma0ns, chapter 8, verses 37-39. Listen for a word from God to you and me. . . His beloved children.
37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Read “Christmas Comes” by Ann Weems from “Kneeling in Bethlehem”.)

Let us pray. . .
Gracious, Loving, God. . . you have called us by name and have loved us before we were born. We thank you for that love that You so richly lavish upon us each and every moment of our lives. We pray for Your loving presence here with us today. May we hear the word you have for us this day. . . may our Spirits stir within us as we hear about a love that surpasses all understanding. May we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that is open to your still small voice. May your word be heard through me or in spite of me and may the mediations of our hearts and minds be pleasing to you our God, our Rock and our Redeemer.

There are so many songs about there that talk about love. You know. . . those “love ballads” that touch your heart and make you think of that certain someone. I think that most country western songs I have heard have been about love and/or love lost. Love is that fuzzy feeling we get when we see that “apple of our eye.” But love is not just a feeling. . . a verb. . . it is also a noun. . . as in the Love of God for us. God is love and God shares that love with all that He has created. The “free Dictionary On Line” calls this type of love a noun and states: “agape love - selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications (especially love that is spiritual in nature)”. This is that “Agape Love. . . it’s a thing that God has for us.

So what constitutes “Agape Love”? Well the first thing we need to realize is that there is more than one kind of love. As a matter of fact, there are four kinds of love just to make it complicated. . .  The website Christianity About defines them like this:

1.     Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Bible.This Greek word and variations of it are found throughout the New Testament. Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers:
2.     Storge is family love, the bond among mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. Storge is the natural love and affection of a parent for their child.
3.     Philia means close friendship or brotherly love in Greek. Philia describes the benevolent, kindly love practiced by early Quakers.
4.     Eros is the physical, sensual love between a husband and wife.

With so many meanings for the word “love” it is a no wonder that it can be confusing. But the love we celebrate during Advent is that Agape, unmerited, undeserved, love that God poured out from heaven into  stable so long ago and continues to pour out that same love out on you. . . on me. . . on all of humanity. . . even though humanity itself doesn’t see it. . . or feel it. . . or even know it’s there at times. . .

I think the true example of love is the love our Lord and God have for us. Scripture tells us that God is love and in what He has done for creation and humanity down through the ages shows us that. John 3:16 tells us that “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” His only Son. . . how many of us love someone so much that we would give up our child for them?
God has loved His human creation since the beginning of time. He loved them so much that He walked in the cool of the evening with them. God even loved them so much that when they disobeyed Him He didn’t destroy them but instead made clothing for them to wear. When humanity had made God sorry for creating them and He decided to destroy what He had made, He saved a whole family of them. . . Noah and his family. . . so that they could begin a new life after the flood. . . a new beginning. And when He realized that humanity could not, on their own, redeem themselves from sin, He sent His son so that Humanity could have a renewed and forgiven relationship With Him. Now that’s what I call LOVE.

The 1 John scripture from this morning talks about God’s love this way. . . we didn’t love God but He surely loved us. . . He sent His son for our salvation. Even though humanity was and is sinful. . . God loved and loves us enough to sacrifice His Son. . . so that we can have that relationship with Him. How awesome is that? How can we not want to share the message of Advent love to those around us?

The scripture found in 1 Corinthians 13 is a wonderful piece of scripture that talks about the true nature of love. It talks about what love does and what it doesn’t. But I love how it is all summed up in one sentence. . . in one verse. . .  Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. Love is most important. . . love is what everything hinges on. . .  We are to share that Advent love. . . the type of love God has shown us. . . to those we come in contact with each day. Now don’t get me wrong. . . I truly do love other people but do I really have to love that person that gets on my nerves. . . the “Uncle Festers’” of the family? Well. . . the answer to that is Yes! And do I really have to love people as if I was going through the same sufferings that they are even though some may be in their sufferings because of their own doing? The answer to that is Yes! And do I really have to “always” try to do good and share with others? Again. . . guess what the answer is. . . Yes! We are to be imitators of God in Christ Jesus. We are to love with the same love of God. . . that Agape love that we talked about earlier.

The world is full of all kinds of love but we as Christians have our own “Brand” of love. . . Love of God in Christ Jesus. Our love is different than the world’s kind of love. Love is something that is hard to define but there is a way that God would have us love. . . Humanity’s love may change with the times, but God’s love. . . His type of love. . . remains for an eternity. This is exactly the love that the Roman’s scripture talks about. No matter what. . . we can count on God’s love for us. Nothing. . . nothing we can say or do can cause us to lose that love from God. How much hope does that give us? No matter where we are in our faith walk. . . no matter where we are in our sinfulness. . . God loves us through it.  

Beloved children of God, if we are to be God’s light of Love. . . the Love of Advent. . . in the world we need to let His love and compassion shine through us. We need to step away from ourselves and step into others lives with the light and love that breaks through the darkest night. . . the love that is within us. Let share the love of Advent to a world that still sits in darkens so that all can experience the of within hearts. Let us show what love really is. . . that radical love that kept Jesus nailed to the Cross for you, for me, for all of humanity. . .

December 8, 2013
Second Sunday of Advent
Second Sunday of Advent sermon series:
An “Advent”ure to the Stable”
Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)
1 Corinthians 13
John 3:16
1 John 4:9-11 (NLT)
Prayer of Thanksgiving
children’s sermon
-          God loved us first and will always love us,
no matter what. God will welcome us back
if we roam.
communion – “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
and sermon “An “Advent”ure of . . . Love

by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Patten, ME
December 8, 2013
First Sunday of Advent
First Sunday of Advent sermon series:
An “Advent”ure to the Stable”
Romans 5:1-5 (New Living Translation)
Isaiah 52:7-12 (New Living Translation)
Isaiah 9:1-3 (New Living Translation)
Prayer of Thanksgiving
children’s sermon
“The First Christmas Present”
by Regina Goode
communion – “Your Presence Is Heaven To Me”
and sermon “An “Advent”ure of . . . Hope
by Pastor Ruth Foss
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Patten, ME
December 1, 2013

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 27,230+ of my poems at Poetry Where You Live.

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