Collect of the Week
Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name and nourish us with all goodness that we may love and serve our neighbor; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
1 John 4:7-12
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
In the name of + Jesus.
The passage above from 1 John, chapter 4, serves as the theme for the National Youth Gathering, LIVELOVE[D]. And so, as our youth spend this week pondering the love of God, let us consider a few things this passage teaches us not only about love, but about our savior, Jesus Christ.
First of all, true love is always from God, and isn’t found in this world anywhere else. Of course, there are many things that take on the appearance of love, but if it isn’t from God, it isn’t true love.
Secondly, we want to be sure we understand that “God is love,” and not the other way around. That is to say, it is a terrible mistake to believe that “Love is God.” That results in worship of a feeling, or an emotion. It teaches us to pursue love, rather than God. And it ends up making God secondary at best, while one of his creations end up being lauded and praised. No, God is love, and so we worship God, and praise God, and desire God.
Thirdly, if you want to see what love looks like, your best option isn’t to go to the movie theatre, or to read a romance novel, or even to listen to your favorite Elvis love song. If you want to see love displayed, and if you want to learn what it means to love, then we look to the cross of Christ.
And fourthly, when we look to the cross, we are reminded that love is always given to those who don’t deserve, rather than to those who do. Love gives to those who are in need, just as Christ gave us His life even while we were yet sinners.
And finally, whether we’re talking about romantic love, brotherly love, or any other Christian love, it is impossible to love anyone, unless we first have been loved, freely, by God.
And that’s why, the Gospel overflows through us into love and service of our neighbors. Our spouses, our children, our colleagues, our neighbors, and even our fellow congregation members end up being those who receive our love, not because they deserve it, but Jesus has first loved us. And so we can’t help but love them too.
In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
O Love, how deep, how broad, how high, Beyond all thought and fantasy, That God, the Son of God, should take Our mortal form for mortals’ sake!
For us by wickedness betrayed, For us, in crown of thorns arrayed, He bore the shameful cross and death; For us He gave His dying breath.
All glory to our Lord and God For love so deep, so high, so broad; The Trinity whom we adore Forever and forevermore (LSB, 544, 1, 5, 7).