“I love you.” This is what we say when we attend worship on Sunday.
We may enter worship with concerns, fears, pains, and confusions. We may enter with great joy and full of hope. We may enter with an expectation of grace and peace. We enter worship for many reasons, but at its heart, sacred space and time is for the community of faith to be intentional in expressing our common love of God. We are drawn by God’s love to offer our love to God.
To see the cross enter at the beginning of worship is to be reminded that we are loved. The Absolution after our Confession is an act of divine love. The Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood is a gift of love. To offer the peace to another is to share the love of Christ. To sing a hymn is to sing a love song. To sit, kneel, and stand by others is a gift of love.
Love changes things. Love heals us. Love carries us through the cares of life. God is love. This is what our worship does because our worship is finally about love of (union with) God.
What a joy to know that the One we love loves us: the one we desire desires us.
Worship is an act, an expression, and an encounter, and a realization of love.
Julian of Norwich wrote: “I was answered in spiritual understanding, and it was said: What, do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was His meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? For Love…. So I was taught that love is our Lord’s meaning.”
As you enter sacred space and time, do so in order to express your love. We do not do this so that God may love us. We offer this time to God because God first loved us, and we love in return.
We may want love to be all warm and fuzzy, but to love is hard work. True love means we have a willingness to get into blood, sweat, and tears with another. Love means giving oneself to another in the darkness and cold as well as the light and warmth. Love encounters times of disappointment and vulnerability. Love means being honest in seeking the true and the real.
Love looks like the Cross, not a heart.
Love is not about how we feel; it is about how we are with God and our neighbor.
Love answers pain, sin, death, and evil with a word of redemption, hope, and light.
Love has its sacrificial side as well as a warm and safe side.
So as we gather on Sundays for worship, let us do so expressing love to God that is true.
I close with a poem by George Herbert entitled Love:
LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’
‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’ So I did sit and eat.