Consider Love

Sermon from March 1, 2019
Luke 12: 22-32
Daughters of the King Assembly,
St. Peter’s, Brenham, Texas

Growing up, I never was a dog person.
In fact, growing up, I was not really a pet person at all, because we did not have a cat or a dog.

However, my life took a turn for the better a little over 10 years ago.
Because that is when we got our little puppy named Grady.
My wife, Susan, and I like to say that Grady is the sweetest little dog in the whole wide world.
Grady is mainly a snuggly dachshund, with a lot of other stuff mixed in.
(I know this because we did a pet DNA test!)

When Grady was a little puppy, both of our sons were in school and busy with a lot of activities.
And my wife worked as a teacher.
And I was always on the go as a parish priest in those days.
Therefore, we left Grady at home alone most of the day.

One time my Dad asked me:
“What does Grady do at home while you are gone?”

I thought for a minute, then replied:
“I think he sits in his office all day, sending faxes and returning emails.”

From that moment on, when I left the house, in order to instruct Grady to get into his dog bed.
I would say:
“C’mon Grady.
Go get in your office, you have a lot of emails to answer.”
And Grady’s reward for going to his office – is a nice little treat.

Even now, I will say:
“Grady, go get in your office.”
And Grady dutifully goes to his dog bed, pleading with his sweet little eyes for his expected treat.

Consider Grady.
He neither sows nor reaps nor gathers into barns.
And yet I feed him.

In the Bible, Jesus instructs us about life.
Jesus proclaims:
Consider the ravens.
They neither sow nor reap, nor do they have a storehouse or a barn.
And yet God feeds them.

Jesus instructs us about life.
Jesus proclaims:
Consider the lilies.
They neither toil nor spin.
Yet even Solomon in all his glory was not as gloriously clothed as the lilies of the field.

In Scripture, we learn that life – is a gift from God.
We see the gift of life – in the feeding of the birds and the ravens.
We see the gift of life – in the beautiful clothing of the grasses and the lilies of the field.
We see the gift of life – when Grady sits in his office, waiting for his treat.

Yet Jesus goes a step further in talking about life.
Jesus also teaches us this:
Life is more than food.
Life is more than clothing.

Yes, life is about creation.
Life is about birds of the air, and lilies of the field, and cats and dogs and goldfish.

Yet the life that Jesus gives to us is much more than the life of creation.
The life that Jesus gives to us is much more than food and clothing and shelter.
The life that Jesus gives to us is more than life, it is abundant life.
And the difference between life and abundant life,
That difference – is love.

And I know that I am witnessing more than life,
I know that I am witnessing abundant life,
I know that I am witnessing the Spirit of love,
When my eyes tear up,
When I hear and experience the voice
Of love.

In this last week, some of you might have been following a special event in the life of The United Methodist Church.
The governance of the Methodist Church is very different than the governance of the Episcopal Church.
In the Episcopal Church, in our General Convention, this legislative body is just us, and it is mostly American.
Yet in the United Methodist Church, their legislative body is world-wide, including Methodists from Europe and Russia and Africa and the Americas.

The special General Conference of The United Methodist Church gathered last week to make decisions about only one issue:
The issue of gay and lesbian persons in their church.
In the end, the Methodist conference voted to double down on their prohibition of these persons to be ordained, or to be married in their church.
In the end, they voted to double down on the penalties for those who do not conform to their Book of Discipline regarding these matters.

Via social media last week, I followed the proceedings.
Like most legislative church gatherings, including our own General Convention, it can be difficult to find any moments of life, much less the abundant life that Jesus promises.

However, at this Methodist Conference, there was one testimony from one delegate that when viral on the internet and you can now see on YouTube.
At the conference, Jeffrey Warren, a 22-year old life-long Methodist took the microphone.

Jeffrey is also known as J.J.
At the microphone, J.J. Warren testified that he is a young, gay Methodist.
And he testified that one day he wants to be ordained as a Methodist pastor, which is prohibited.
J.J. then explained that he works with LGBTQ students at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.
J.J. Warren’s voice then became stronger as he proclaimed this:

“[The students at my college],
They didn’t know that God could love them,
Because their churches said that God didn’t.
So if we can be a church that brings Jesus to people who are told [that they] can’t be loved,
Then that’s what I want our church to be.
And that’s the Methodist Church that I love.
And that’s [the church] that I want to be a pastor in one day.”

J.J. Warren received a standing ovation.
And I cannot listen to his words without my eyes tearing up.

warren

For I know when I am witnessing more than life,
I know when I am witnessing abundant life,
When I receive the good news of the love of Jesus for all, all, all people,
When I hear the good news
Of love.

The three pillars of the Order of the Daughters of the King are:
Prayer, Service, and Evangelism.

And when we speak of God as Trinity, the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Sometimes it seems as if the Holy Spirit gets the short end of the stick.
And in the three pillars of the DOK, sometimes it seems as if Evangelism gets the short end of the stick.

Yet evangelism begins by simply telling another person that you consider the gift of life,
That you consider the lilies and the ravens and the dog in his office who pleads for his treat.

Yet life is much more than food and clothing and shelter.
And evangelism is simply sharing that you have discovered more than life.

Like J.J. Warren did, share your story of a God who loves everyone, even when some people say that God doesn’t.
Share your story of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of your life.
Share your story of Jesus, who forgives you and includes you in his love.

Because evangelism is simply sharing the difference of Jesus in your own life:
The difference between life and the abundant life of love.

My sisters and brothers:
Consider the ravens.
Consider the lilies.
Consider the abundant life.

Consider
Love.

AMEN.

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One comment

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