All You Need is Love

Paul All You Need is Love

The theme of my sermon Sunday  (July 21) was The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love”.

John Lennon wrote the song in the context of the conflicts of the 60s – the Vietnam War, Racism, Gender Discrimination, on and on.  

Beatle John’s solution?  Love.

Paul wrote his love poem, 1 Corinthians 13, in the context of the conflicts of the church.  There were, in the church, factions, divisions, comparisons, competition, categorizations – “I’m better than, more spiritual than, closer to God than – you.”

Apostle Paul’s solution?  Love.

The Love Poem of 1 Corinthians 13 was not written to be read at a wedding – although it’s a pretty good fit – it was written to be read at a fight – a relationship fight, a church fight, a community fight, a country’s fight. 

Love.  How can we love the “other”?

I got a clue from a rock – a talking rock.  South of Springfield, MO, where I live, is an attraction called “Talking Rocks Caverns”.   

Do you think they’re using “talking” as a metaphor?  Have you ever heard a rock talk?

Jesus says if we don’t recognize and respond (eulogeo – bless, speak well of) to Jesus as King of a new kingdom, then the “rocks will cry (an urgent scream) out” (Luke 19:40).  

Talking rocks. Shouting rocks. 

The Psalmist says there’s a concert in the fields.  “The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are carpeted with grain.  They shout and sing together for joy (Psalm 65:13).

Shouting Rocks.

Singing Sheep and Grain. 

There’s a lot of shouting and singing going on in nature.  An actual “rock concert”! 

How does that help me love?

Jesus teaches us to find God incarnate in this world.  Holding up the bread at the last supper, he said, “This is my body.”  

Paul writes that “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen” (Romans 1:20).  

God can be seen in things if we want to see.  

In rocks. 

Even in people.  

“In the least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46).  

According to Paul, all of humanity are God’s “offspring (genos – from God’s genes)” (Acts 17:28).

Does spirituality teach us that we can see God in people and pebbles? I’m thinking, “yes.”

Science seems to teach us the same thing.  In case there is any question, I did not do well in science through school.  English, Literature, Philosophy? I loved. Not so much for science. But, I’m now I’m reading scientists who sound spiritual!

Go figure.

Science and spirituality both agree that we are all one…that we all come from one God – unless you believe that God is a white-bearded old man living in the clouds.  But if you see God as “spirit” (John 4:24), as Universal Being, Cosmic Mind, the unity of the uni-verse makes sense.  

“Universe” – “uni” means “one.”  “verse” is from the Latin “vertere”  and means “to turn.”  

Universe means we are turned into one.  

We are one.  One unified reality.  Science tells us that if we look closely enough at any person, plant or rock, its basic structure, the atom, is nothing more that a collection of spinning energy vortices – in everything.   

I don’t get that at all.  What I do get is this: Despite our apparent separateness, there appears to be one energy source from which we all arise.  Whether you call it the “Higgs Boson” or God, science and religion both agree that it’s real (Well that concept is a bit too “out there” for some people of faith to accept.) 

There is a supernatural, mystical connectedness between everything…

…even with those with whom I have major disagreements and differences.

Why should I bother with the “other”?

Why should I care about those over there?

Why should I try to walk beside those on the other side?

Why should I be with those with whom I disagree? 

Why not walk away from those who think a different way? 

Because we’re connected.  

Another guy much smarter than I, Tom Chi, said, in a Tedx Talk that “societies that deeply adopt this idea are the ones who over time deepen their level of consideration, deepen their level of expression, deepen their level of understanding, for each other.”  He goes on to say that “this is actually something that is literally true.”

Since the connection is true, the unity is a reality, I need to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bonds of peace (Ephesians 4:3).

 

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Olympic Fever

Olympics

Do you have Olympic fever?

No, I’m not talking about the Zika Virus, or catching something from Guanabara Bay. I’m talking about “Gotta watch it” fever.

I thought I was immune to the fever this time around, but I caught it after only a few minutes of watching.

There are a lot of storylines to follow beyond mosquitoes and toxic bays.

  • Michael Phelps winning his 21st Gold Medal.  I like this joke from Eric Bransteen: “If you drink your milk and smoke this blunt, one day you’ll win as many gold medals as Michael Phelps.” — a dad trying to inspire his kid.  I have to admit, the Gold Medals and Marijuana combo crossed my mind.
  • Gymnast Osksana Chusovitina is competing in her 7th Olympics.  She is 41 years old!  I saw her perform while sitting on my couch with a bowl of Air-popped popcorn in my lap.
  • Cupping?

Then there is this:

The Refugee Team. A group of 10 athletes, with no home, no flag, no national anthem.  They share the common experience of being displaced.

 

Some fled wars, kidnappings and persecution.

Others’ homes were destroyed.

Some were separated from their families at a young age.

Some were caged and starved for losing competitions in their home nation.

Yusra Mardini is on the team.  She’s a refugee from Syria.

A swimmer.

Good thing. Because the motor on the flimsy dinghy she and 19 other refugees were using to escape stopped.  The teenager dove into the water and helped pull the dinghy for over three hours to the Greek Island of Lesbos, saving all on board.  No swimming competition she faces in Rio will compare with that act of endurance and bravery.

Speaking of her team of refugees, Yusra says, “We are still humans.  We can do something.  We can achieve.”

I wonder if she has been made to feel less than human.

That can happen.  Maybe that’s why Exodus 23:9 admonished the Israelites and maybe us, “You shall not oppress a stranger (ger – an outsider, a resident who has no family or clan to look after him) for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).

The Bible’s charge is based on empathy.  The Israelites had “walked a mile” in the immigrants’ shoes.  “Since you know what it feels like to be a stranger, you must never abuse or oppress the stranger.”

The Israelites were to love the immigrant because Deuteronomy 10:18-19 says that the God they worship loves the immigrant.

If we love God, it makes sense that we love what/who He loves.

One more story from the Olympics is thought-provoking:  The opening ceremony. Not Gisele Bundchen and her runway walk, but the comments by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach:

“We are living in a world of crises, mistrust, and uncertainty.   Here is our answer: the 10,000  best athletes in the world, competing with each other, at the same time living peacefully together in one Olympic Village, sharing their meals and their emotions.  In this Olympic world, we see that the values of our shared humanity are stronger than the forces which want to divide us.”  

James describes a similar world in James 3:16, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”  Sounds like “crises, mistrust, and uncertainty.”

The solution?

The Olympic goal “…is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity?

James’ solution?

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness.  Then it is peace-loving and courteous.  It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds” (James 3:17).  Then he closes out with this powerful challenge:  “You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor” (James 3:18 The Message).  

Watching the Olympics, for me, goes beyond cheering for your team. And I cheer loudly!

It’s bigger.  Much bigger.

It’s seeing that we are all basically the same.  Same dreams. Same disappointments.

It’s seeing a universal desire for peace.

It’s seeing the path to peace is recognizing the dignity of all people, of each individual.