A sermon preached
Readings: Matthew 28:16-20 and 1 John 4:7-16
1 John 4:8 “God is love”
Today we welcome those
our Church Membership Roll here at the Mint,
and others of us take the opportunity
to renew our baptismal or confirmation vows.
Each year, every Methodist church member
receives an annual membership card,
to remind us of our place in the Church, and our commitment.
Each year the President of the Methodist Conference
chooses a scriptural text for the Membership card.
This year’s President chose words form 1 John 4 –
“Let us Love one another….
Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
On Trinity Sunday we
struggle as best we can
to understand the idea that God is one God in three persons.
You may or may not be heartbroken to hear
that we do not have time for a full
philosophical analysis of that topic today.
However on this Sunday we might reflect
on just one aspect of the Trinity.
According to traditional Trinitarian theology,
God is three in one, and as such, he is,
within his very being, a community,
indeed a community of perfect love –
Father and Son loving each other in the bond of the Spirit.
There is eternally within the heart of God an immense exchange of love –
and that dynamic of love cannot but flow out into the world –
There is here a power
which cannot be contained –
any more than the great nuclear reactions at the heart of our sun
can go on without spreading light and warmth to the whole solar system.
God in three persons is
like a family
which is in perfect loving harmony with itself.
You might think that such a happy loving household
would have no need if those beyond itself –
But the opposite is true.
The family is so joyfully and selflessly at peace with itself
that they cannot stop themselves sharing that love with others –
rushing into the street to inviting others in -
God is love and love by its very nature
cannot but share and spread its warmth.
mother and child visit an elderly lady’s house.
On the wall the lady has a coloured framed Biblical text
with the words “Thou God Seest Me”.
The little boy is behaving badly,
so his mum turns to the lad and says
“Mind how you behave! See what the Bible says!
God is watching you!
You will be in big trouble when he sees what you are doing.”
The boy looks suddenly anxious.
Quietly the old lady walks over to the little boy
and puts her arms round him and says –
“Nay lad, don’t you fret. God is watching –
but only because he loves you so much,
he can’t take his eyes off you”
And when we come to
baptism and confirmation,
that is first and foremost what it is all about –
God simply saying he loves us with a love which he can’t control –
for love is not just an incidental attribute of God –
love is his very essence – that which makes him what he is.
was a piece in the paper a year or two back
from San Antonio, Texas.
It was a blistering hot August day,
and a ten-month-old baby girl had been accidentally
locked in a parked car by her aunt.
Frantically the mother and the aunt ran around the car in near hysteria,
while a neighbour attempted to unlock the car with a clothes hanger.
The infant was bawling at the top of its lungs,
beginning to turn purple and foam from the mouth,
a combination of anxiety and the intense heat inside the car.
It had quickly become a life-and-death situation
when Fred Arriola, a truck driver, arrived on the scene.
He grabbed a hammer from his truck and
smashed the back side window of the car to free the baby.
Was he heralded a hero? Not so.
According to an article in the San Antonio Tribune,
he is quoted as saying,
"The lady was mad at me because I broke the window.
I just thought, 'What's more important --
a baby or a window?' "
Think back 400 years and more to John Donne’s poem
in which he says to God, don’t just knock gently
– if I am to be saved, I need you to crash into my life:
Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new…
So to those who bring their membership here today,
this is what God says to you:
to those who take this opportunity to renew our baptismal or confirmation vows –
this is what God says to us:
and as we come forward to take bread and wine,
this is what God says to us all:
”You are my child,
and I won’t let anything stand in the way of my love for you:.
I love you when, like a
I give you life and care for you
I love you when, like a
I dive into the waters and drag you from the grip of sin and death
I loved you closer than
when I take up my dwelling within you.
Father Son and Holy Spirit, I love you.”
So today I invite you to
hear the Scripture –
that as God loves us we should love one another -
- this is the call to re-commit ourselves to love as God loves us.
How, you may say, can I love as God loves?
How can my guttering
compare with the heat and light of the sun??
How can my dim and
compare with the compassionate and all seeing gaze of God?
How can my weak knocking
compare with the hammer blows of the Almighty?
Well, in one sense they
can’t – and yet -
because God does not just dwell out there, but also within me –
he can and will – for all my sin and weakness -
empower me to be part of his work.
In Graham Greene’s “The
Power and the Glory”
there is a “whisky priest” –
he is in many ways a broken sinner, and yet he is still a priest.
And in an inspired phrase,
he speaks of God at work in him
as being like
“a small cup of love in a pint of ditch water”
Maybe we feel like ditch
But as we come today to the Lord’s table
we receive a small cup of God’s love
And if we let it, that love will work its miracle
and permeate our very being,
and we who are members of this Church
may become indeed
members of the very Body of Christ
through whom God’s love is lived and known.