This morning’s service began with a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting. Shane has been in contact with the pastor of the United Methodist church in that town and has offered our help, condolences and prayers to those directly affected by this tragedy.
This morning’s sermon, from Luke, features Mary’s Magnificat – the song of praise she sings to God when she realizes the truth about the child she carries.
“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly
He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”
The message focused on God’s love; and the message of the angel:
Don’t be afraid. I bring a message of good news for every generation. God loves us.
The Bible talks about love in four different capacities:
- Eros • Romantic love. It’s a powerful force. Mary had Eros love for Joseph. But that isn’t the love she talks about.
- Storge • Familiar love; the love between a parent and a child. You never understand it until you fully experience it. God gives us life-changing love for our children, for parents and siblings. It brings us together no matter what. But this isn’t the love Mary sang about either.
- Philia • Friendship love – the sort of love that brings us together to work in community. And this isn’t the love Mary sang about.
- Agape • This love is expressed only from the heart of God outward. It imprints itself on our families, marriages, friendships and communities. This is the love Mary sang about. God’s agape, unconditional love.
That’s the Good News: that there is a love greater than parent and child, greater than romantic love, agape love, that gives us a glimpse into the heart of God. Agape has no conditions, no bounds and is given freely and unconditionally. It is:
- An outflow of God’s heart
- A blueprint for how we are to treat one another.
We will be known by how we love one another unconditionally. It points to something new happening in our hearts, our families and our community.
Mary teaches us three things about the power of agape love:
- It notices the unnoticeable and looks with favor on the servant. Our world desperately needs this kind of love that notices everyone because they are a child of God. God’s agape love notices those that the world considers to be throwaways. They are important in His eyes.
- Agape is a merciful love – no matter what our mistakes, this love changes us and gives us hope. God’s love is brought to us by Jesus; this doorway of grace changes our future.
- Agape love is redemptive. It puts the broken pieces back together, offers a new path, a new beginning and hope.
Our world needs to hear that God will not give up on us.
Thomas à Kempis said:
Whoever loves much does much.
We have much to do. We love best when we love God first.