“He [Jesus] didn’t die for anything he could get out of. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t….he wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life, for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the well being of the world…for us.”
“That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world.” (Bishop Michael Curry in his sermon at the Royal Wedding)
The redemptive power of love is a phrase that I haven’t been able to shake since listening to his sermon on Saturday. It is because of the redemptive power of love that I am able to tell my family’s story of mental illness. It is because of the redemptive power of love that I was able to graduate seminary and be consecrated as a deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) It is because of the redemptive power of love that I truly believe God calls us to share God’s love with all the world.
“For God so loved the world that God gave God’s one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. God did not send God’s son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17).”
My heart aches when I turn on the news or look at the comments in a blog post and see the evil that is being spewed out into the world. As Bishop Curry reminded us in his sermon, if we actually are able to love and show love, the world would be a much different place. If we truly loved one another, would our friends of color not fear for their lives? If we truly loved one another, would we truly treat each other as family?
I am especially proud to serve in a church (the ELCA) that truly believes that all are welcome in this place. I was excited and delighted to hear that Jamie and Rebekah Bruesehoff will be sharing their story at this summer’s National Youth Gathering. I had the opportunity to hear Jamie speak at this year’s ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza. Her story is powerful as she reminds us what it means to love God’s beloved children.
Today, evil has found its way as outside forces attack this family without even knowing their story. It is moments like this that cause my blood to boil because all of us are beloved children of God. God continually calls each and every one of us by name.
The redemptive power of love allows us to put aside our differences; to treat each other as “fearfully and wonderfully made” children of God. The redemptive power of love calls us to love ALL of God’s beloved children. The redemptive power of love is why God sent God’s son into the world for each and every one of us. The redemptive power of love truly allows us to hear the stories of our LGTBQ+ siblings. The redemptive power of love opens our hearts to all the world.
And because of the redemptive power of love, it is words and actions rooted in love that are pouring out to Jamie and Rebekah today. And this is the type of church I want to be a part of us; a church that openly and freely opens their doors without question. A church that truly lives out the words “all are welcome in this place.”
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
(Psalm 139:13-16; The Message)