Where Love abides. Sermon May 6 2018

Sermon May 6th, 2018.

Where love abides. 

Last Sunday when we celebrated and congratulated our 19 confirmands on their Confirmation Day, on their choice, on their blessing – the church was literally packed not only with people in the pews but even more packed with love.

Love was in the air. Profound love between parents and children, love from mother and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors. Profound love was in the air last Sunday as we celebrated the lovely youngster on their path to adulthood, as we lovingly confessed our faith in a loving God, who calls his children beloved and blesses all and to abide in his love.

When the 19 were confirmed at the altar, they had all chosen a special reading from the New Testament to be their special confirmation word.

Through these readings the word LOVE was said 15 times. The word love speaks volumes about care, commitment, forgiveness, grace, meaning, friendship, relationships, family – and the word love speaks volumes about who and what God is.

“God is love….” 1. John says….” God is love and whoever abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him.”

On a sunny, blessed, joyous day like last Sundays confirmation, we could simply not get too much love and too many words about love. Love was in the air, moved by the spirit: love was in the air in gentle hugs and warm handshakes: love was in the air in the eyes of confirmands, parents, grandparents, friends and congregation.

Love was the foundation of the entire celebration as God is love.

Now a week has passed. And we are here again. In the pews. Not as packed, but still in our pews of faith, hope and love. All love is still in the air, as it is every time we gather for Service. For God is love, and today all the readings from the Gospel of John and the letter of John, - makes us ponder on what love is in our lives, in our faith.

The humorist Will Rodgers once told a reporter that he never met a man he didn’t like. As a firm believer in honesty and grace, I would have told late Will Rodgers that he most likely was in denial. Come now…. Can any of us stand and truthfully and honestly say that without any exception, that we always liked every single person with whom we were ever in contact? I think that late Will Rodgers would have liked the honesty of an elderly pastor who confessed: “There are some people to whom I couldn’t warm, even if I were cremated with them!” And let me reassure you all:  if there are people to whom you do not warm, know please that you are not in violation of any Christian norm. This is human, and this is nature.

As Christians we are not called to like everybody. We are not called to like, but we are called – and this is the burden of today’s readings – we are called to love: “This is my commandant, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Love is…. Not liking. Love is so much more and so much more profound.

Love defined by our faith is both the cure and the difficult practice.

Beatles sang: “All you need is love…. All you need is love love … love is all you need….” 

Every Saturday I follow a Dog Obedience Class with Saxo with a wonderful skilled instructor. One Saturday he looked at all the frustrated faces of dog lovers, who were trying to get their dogs to follow our commands and signals and lead, - and not really succeeding. He then said: “Be patient. Love your dog even when he is not loveable. I will not ask you to have the patience of a Saint, but maybe of a Priest.”  That hit me! I can be very patient, but I am truly not very patient with the ones I love: my dog, my husband, my boys.

But love is, as Paul wrote to the congregation in Corinth: “ 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails. ,,,,,, 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

This is the definition of the very concept of love. The complete love, the divine love, the love that is from God and lived through Jesus. Love is grand and beautiful. But love is also difficult, demanding and takes a lot of patience not only with the dogs but with the entire human race.

In a beautiful sermon by Paul Tillich, one of the great theological minds of the 20th century, he wrote about a Swedish woman who aided prisoners and orphans during the First World War. She ended up in a concentration camp herself because she gave aid and comfort. Tillich then wrote: “It is a rare gift to meet a human being in whom love, this means GOD, is so overwhelmingly manifest. It undercuts theological arrogance as well a pious isolation. It is more than justice and greater than faith or hope. It is the very presence of God in the form of a human being. For God is love. In every moment of genuine love, we are dwelling in God, and God in us.”

Think for a moment when and if you met pure love manifested in a person. 

Think about when and if you expected that love from that person.

Think about how that love changed your day, your life, your path and your faith.

Think about if you could abide and dwell in that love.

 Think about the power of love to care, nurture, forgive, strengthen, empower, comfort, and bless.

Love is truly the greatest. As love is God, and God is love.

Our human love is a mere reflection of the divine love in which image we were made.

Our human love is a promise of the divine love to last when everything else fails, ends or dies.

Our human love is our relationship to our loved ones, but also our possible relationship with the ones we do not even like.

Our human love is our saving, our blessing, our only way to connect fully with God.


I heard a beautiful song the other day, that reflects on love and where love abides. It is by the singer and songwriter Tom Russel from the album: “The man From God knows where.” The song is called “Love abides” – we will listen to it during offertory.



Look how far we've come
Do we know who we are?
Stranded on a mountaintop
Trying to catch a falling star

Here's to what we've left behind us
Here's to what we keep inside
May the road that lies before us
Lead to a place where love abides

I went walking with my darling
Through the early morning frost
Saw three crosses on the roadside
Where three young souls were lost

She says, "They're flying with the angels
Jesus took 'em for a ride
High above the Rio Grande
They found a place where love abides"

You might cross your burning deserts
You might walk your path alone
And a sudden storm may blind you
Shake your spirit to the bone

Seeking shelter for a weary heart
A place to rest, a place to hide
Then somewhere down your troubled road
You find a place where love abides

Our people came across the water
With their fearful untamed hearts
Standing on a foreign shoreline
They prayed for a brand new start

Then hand in hand across the mountains
And the raging rivers wide
They reached the distant ocean
Or found a place where love abides

Look how far we've come
Do we know who we are?
Stranded on a mountaintop
Trying to catch a falling star

Here's to what we've left behind us
Here's to what we keep inside
May the road that lies before us
Lead to a place where love abides


Where does love abide?

It abides on out path forward leaving the past behind and trying to cope with what we hide inside.

Where does love abide?

It abides in our faith that death is not the last word, but love is.

Where does love abide?

It abides when we finally find a shelter, a place to rest and be, or standing at a shoreline hoping for a brand-new beginning.

Where does love abide?

When we try. When we make a choice. When we believe that it will make a difference. When we love more profoundly that we selectively like. When we believe that we are loved. When we make love the prism through which we look at our neighbor, our family, our friends, our fellow congregants, our world.

Then love abides, and we abide in love. Amen