Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
How do you gauge God’s love for you? We think all sorts of things about how you know that God loves you. If your life is generally pretty good, if you are generally pretty good (healthy or whatever), if you’re generally a nice person—in all these sorts of ways we figure out if God loves us and how much He loves us.
But what about experiencing God’s love? How would you go about doing that? We want to feel something. As if love is simply a feeling. (That’s what we think today.) Don’t get me wrong: if you feel something (joy, sadness, anything in between), that’s okay as far is it goes. But it’s not a sign of God’s love for you, nor is it a sign of how weak or strong your faith is.
“God is love:” each person of the Trinity putting the other two first. Anyway, experiencing that—God’s love: how? Well, we look inside ourselves. We meditate on whatever (Jesus, His death, His resurrection, whatever blessings we’ve received), and by our meditation, our works, our spirituality we try to drum up some sort of feeling because, we think that’s the sign of true faith.
We boil it all down to feelings: a quiver in the liver, a lump in the throat, a glistening of the eye. God’s love, Jesus’ love is something far different than all that, it’s more concrete. Faith is same way too, too.
((2. God certainly evidences His love for you.))
Now, God certainly evidences His love for you. He demonstrates His love, shows it for all the world to see. His love is for you, for me, for the whole world. The Father sent His Son. That’s love. It’s not a feeling. Rather, love is active. The Father didn’t swoon over you. In spite of you and your sins and your chasing after feelings, He acts. He does love. He sends His eternal Son. “God loved the world in this way: He sent His only Son.”
Jesus shows His love, too. “Just as I have loved you.” How’d He do that? Well, He came when sent. “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” He loved them to the finish—“It is finished.” That’s how He loved us: cross much; death much. Jesus does love: even to the giving up of His body and the shedding of His blood.
Jesus, sent from the Father, crucified, and dead—that is how you gauge God’s love for you. Now, what about experiencing His love?
((1. He delivers His love to you.))
Experiencing His love is where we run into a lot of trouble. We think that that part’s up to us. Jesus did His part, and now it’s your turn. God’s love was something long ago—about 2,000 years ago—and we’ve got to get in on that somehow: prayer, meditation, feeling, knowledge, right answers, whatever it is. (Everyone’s different!) But the result is the same: Jesus did, and now you… This would be like a husband who did something really sweet and nice one time in the first year of marriage, but not much after, then it’s all up to the wife. Nothing could be farther from what Jesus does now.
God demonstrated His love in a concrete way: Son, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.” The experiencing of God’s love is just as concrete. He delivers His love in the here and now to you. You don’t have to go running off. He delivered His love in the upper room: purifying, washing, forgiving His disciples. The Lord forgiving sin is His delivering His love so that we experience it, we receive it.
To you today, He delivers it. No, more than that! He CHALICES IT. JESUS CHALICES HIS LOVE TO YOU. There is the concrete place of His love. Why did He die for you? His love. Why did He institute, establish, start the Supper of His body and blood? His love for you. Love of Jesus at the cross. Love of Jesus in the cup: His blood. Love of Jesus through the bread: His body.
Jesus’ Supper of His body and blood is why tonight’s color is white. It’s why we break a Lenten “rule” by singing the “Glory be to God on high.” His love isn’t from a long time ago, not a love we have to search deep inside us for. Nope, none of that. It’s concrete love. It’s real love. Where is God’s love seen? In Jesus Christ. Where’s that love delivered? On the Altar: Jesus’ body and blood given and shed for you, for your neighbor, too. JESUS CHALICES HIS LOVE TO YOU, directly to you, into your mouth!—“Drink of it all of you, this cup is My blood. Take, eat; this is My body.”
Where’s God’s love? His love is shown in His cross, and His love is experienced, delivered, CHALICED to you tonight! You can’t stop His love from being brought to bear on sinners. Unless, of course, you reject it, refuse to receive it. That’s to reject Him, reject your fellow disciples, too. That’s unlove, unfaith. “Oh, you can’t keep Jesus’ love in a box,” but you can keep Jesus’ love in a cup. His blood that was shed for you is there for you to drink. His body, too, for you to eat.
That’s what tonight’s all about. JESUS CHALICES HIS LOVE TO YOU. He wants you to experience, to receive His love and forgiveness, so He delivers the body He gave and the blood He shed for you. That is what He says it is: “This is My body; this is My blood.” “Is” means “is.”
You don’t ever have to wonder about God’s love for you. You don’t have to look inside yourself, feel a quiver in your liver. He’s already shown His love for you at Calvary. Now, He calls you to His table to deliver, no, to CHALICE HIS LOVE TO YOU. Blood for you; body, too. It’s His love for you and for those who commune with you, too. We take into our bodies and souls God’s love: His blood shed for you. Separated from that we only have our own personal human love. But we share in Christ’s love, His body and blood, together, and so we love one another—in here and out there, too.
INI + AMEN.