Click video below to view the full service video for Sunday, November 24, 2019, posted on our YouTube Channel
The Ridiculous Journey: Love Gets the Last Word
Reflection by Will Sparks, November 24, 2019 – The Ridiculous Journey: Love Gets the Last Word
In a culture where profit often gets the last word, or popularity, or self-interest, what gets the last word in your life. As we come to the end of our “Ridiculous Journey” series, we celebrate the way love gets the last word.
Choices. What will it be today, in the great choices of our lives. Will it be Blue bombers or Ti-cats that we cheer for today? Choices. The tennis one has been easy for us in Canada, although even there, we have the choice to get swept up in tennis magic or put up the Christmas lights.
But in a bigger sense, we do choose the path we will travel. That is what we have been saying throughout this month of November. And in the choosing, we create a life. Oh, it is true that life is made by other factors too. We don’t get unlimited choice, but there is always an element of choice. And we have heard over the last few weeks, Jesus make a case for the path of the gospel, even though it can sound kind of ridiculous, even though it makes demands on us. It can sound kind of is a revolutionary: the last become first and the first become last, and the world is kind of turned on its head. And we have heard the call to be reconciled to others and walk the path of reconciliation, even if it means having coffee with people who send us hate mail. And we have heard a case for deep wisdom and clarity on this path, walked by sages before us. On this path we are seen clearly, deeply and loved all the same.
And today, we hear the case for the path of love as it uniquely appears in the gospel of John and in the first letter of John. I say uniquely because as Ross so creatively read this morning, the author of John situated the Word, or Love logic of God not just at the beginning of the message of Jesus, or even at the birth of the person of Jesus, but at the very beginning of time. According to John’s gospel, love had the first word, in the beginning, and then, in the fullness of time, love appeared wrapped in flesh and wearing sandals and making it all very real. And it would appear that the choice that followers of this path have before us is to continue to wrap love in flesh, to make it visible, for when we wrap it in flesh with our own lives, when we incarnate it, bring it to live in the choices we make we are making God visible. Nobody ever sees God, but when we love one another, somehow God is made real, and God’s love is made perfect.
What a grand conviction eh? That somehow a love logic as timeless and universal as this could also be as grounded and real as this moment, right here, right now, in this flesh and blood, in these words coming out of my mouth, in the thoughts and actions of this moment, in the path that we are creating with the steps we choose to take this day.
And as much as that is grand theology, and as much as we can abstract the religious path with nice words, that is the bottom line, choosing the path of love in action: one day at a time, one decision at a time, one interaction at a time, one policy at a time, one song at a time, one dilemma at a time.
In our Tuesday study group we have heard lots of inspiring voices leading us down this path. Great well known voices like Richard Rohr, Nadia Boltz Weber, Rachel Held Evans, and former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. But the one that stays with me from the whole 7 weeks of study is the voice of Becca Stevens. Ever heard of her? Ya, me neither.
Becca Stevens grew up in Nashville Tennesee, in a family rooted in the Christian faith. Her dad was a minister although tragically he died when she was young. But she was deeply involved in ministries of compassion and justice from the beginning. She was ordained in 1991 and has worked in social ministries all her life, founding a place called Thistle Farm, which is a 2 year program for women caught in human trafficking, prostitution, drugs, and who are making the incredibly strong choice to begin again. So Becca Stevens, acquainted as she is with death and struggle and the harshness of life speaks profoundly of the choice of love. Here she is.
There is so much there, and I will post it on the blog and our YouTube channel in the next day or so. She says, I don’t believe anywhere near as much as I used to, but what’s left, I would be willing to die for. What’s left after life has thrown all it can at us and whittled away at us around the edges, burned away the dross, is a choice, every day. Am I going to love, in this moment. It is not about how you feel, it is about what you choose, how you choose to experience and live in the world. It is an every moment practice of letting love get the last word. We make the Christian faith really complicated, but it’s not really. That practice alone is enough, and if you really do it, God will change your life.
So like I have done every week with our Ridiculous Journey study group, I want to put it to you. Try it. Try it today. Try it every day this week. When you get up in the morning, say to yourself, today, I am going to let love have the last word.
At breakfast when I am listening to the news and thinking what I find myself thinking- love gets the last word. In my car in traffic- love gets the last word. In this interaction, with this person- love gets the last word. In this parent teacher interview- love gets the last word.
“Each cheque I write….”
Sound simple? Try it.
walk this path we will have to practice, and we will have to learn.
I gave our study group last week a task, and I hope it is a task that will help us learn to more deeply walk the way of the sage. It is simply to set your intention sometime at the beginning of every day with a prayer that comes from a very familiar song. Sometime near the beginning of you day, make a habit of praying:
Day by day, O dear God three things I pray: to see you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly. Day by day.
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