Throughout my life, on my best days and worst days alike, there has been one abiding truth that I've always known and clung to: God is love.
Nothing that can separate us from this love. No height, nor depth, no nothing! And the love of God is not just for a select few. It is for all people.
Then, if we've experienced this love, it is our job to share it with others without discrimination. We are called to love as God loves.
No matter where a person is born, no matter the color of their skin, no matter the language they speak, no matter if we call them an enemy or a friend, we are to love.
Though none of us lives into this calling with perfection, it's what I believe the pastoral life is all about. We are asked to model love in healthy ways as God has loved us.
But this living "God is love" is not always easy. Here's one example:
Recently, I entered conversation with a church to be their interim pastor. As I got to know the search committee selected to represent the congregation, I observed their love for God, each other, and their church. I was very interested in how my calling could be lived out in this place. I gladly accepted their offer to serve among them when it came.
However, it became clear from the first moments of my work, that the interim time in this church broke open issues deep below the surface that no one saw coming. A storm erupted among some members of the church.
But, thanks to the loving community around me, I didn't panic. I preached my first sermon about love in fact. I knew that my showing up could speak volumes about giving God's love a chance. I awaited how the story would unfold with hope.
But then, this week, it became clear that:
1. I was/ would not be given as chance to minister because I am a woman.
2. I was/ would not be given a chance to minister because it is my personal belief that all are welcome in God family, even those who are gay.
It is my abiding belief that love can not be forced upon a person or a group of people. It's either accepted or its not. And, church shouldn't be a place where newcomers feel either emotionally or physically unsafe. Love shouldn't hurt. So, sadly, I knew I needed to leave this context much sooner than I hoped.
So my friends who long for the coming of God's kingdom on earth, this is what this experience has reminded me of all over again: we've got a lot of work to do. A lot.
Jesus loves little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow black and white they are precious in his sight. Jesus love all the children of the world!
And we must share it. People need to hear it. People are longing to hear it. People's lives could be changed if they knew. And I want to be part of ministry is a beacon of love for all people. All people.
Here's the message, I'll keep preaching the rest of my days. Let us love God and love one another.
As the old hymn goes, they'll know we are Christians by our love.
We must keep a open chair for the stranger or for any who find their way to our congregations. Always.
So, I'm wondering, would someone visiting your church know that God is love? And if they wouldn't, what are you and I going to do to be the change?