When love is found and hope comes home, Sing and be glad that two are one.
When love explodes and fills the sky Praise God and share our Maker’s joy.
(When Love is Found, hymn by Brian Wren, Copyright 1983, Hope Publishing Company.
We have begun our six-week sermon series God Expects Us to Love and continue throughout this month to explore the different types of love described by the Greek words philia (friendship), eros (romantic), storge (family and nation), and agape (Christ-like, sacrificial and unconditional). We will also reflect upon the two love commands Jesus gives regarding strangers and enemies. What we know is that
this word, so easily spoken if you are not Scandinavian, can be paper thin or ocean deep.
Composer Brian Wren wrote the words above as part of a hymn composed for his brother’s wedding and also the wedding of a friend. The first verse exudes the joy of love newly discovered and taking root in a couple’s life together. It also calls out our gratitude to God for a gift so wondrous and reminds us of God’s delight when two of his children
bring this added depth to their relationship. Fireworks!
But as the hymn goes on, Wren gets down to the nitty-gritty reality of love being put to work. In verse two, he describes this romantic explosion maturing into the building of trust and care, about love daring to reach beyond the comforts of home to go out into the world to serve God and neighbor.
And then in the third verse, Wren writes about those heart-wrenching times when love is tested and both love and loved ones change.
Hold still to hope though all seems strange, Till ease returns and love grows wise
Through list’ning ears and opened eyes.
And then the most powerful verse of all.
When love is torn and trust betrayed, Pray strength to love till torments fade,
Till lovers keep no score of wrong But hear through pain love’s Easter song.
Love found, built, tested, torn. If love is paper-thin, a word lacking will or an emotion lacking commitment, hope may be hard to come by and wisdom elusive. But if love is deep and you know it requires the best of who you are (even if it is hard to verbalize), you will offer listening ears and opened eyes. Rather than holding onto regrets or regressions, you
will hold to hope and work to hear what you need to hear and see what you need to see. You will stop keeping score as though relationships are a competitive sport and pray without ceasing for the strength to love when you may not like and to forgive what you can’t forget and to believe that there is resurrection song when it seems love lies dead.
Whatever love one might be offering to friend, family, country, spouse or God, our prayer is for a love that is ocean-deep and Spirit-fed. Our prayer is for a people who work at love and whose template for love is the One who is the greatest expression of God’s love. Our season of
focus on the expectations God has for our many loves is embarked upon with the desire that our faith moves us to “hold still to hope and pray strength to love” in all times. A faith that reaches, stretches, listens and loves even when the challenges are daunting and long after the fireworks have faded into our long-term memory.
People of God, we are loved by the Source of all love. We are loved ocean-deep and Jesus-strong, held onto even when we are hapless and hopeless. Gospel truth. We begin there. Ocean-deep and Jesus-strong. Loved. And then, God willing, we mirror that love to friend and foe, spouse and louse, neighbor and stranger, child and parent. We mirror that love for a world torn by betrayals and breaking of trust and we sing Easter songs when least expected. It’s who we say we are. It is, I pray, who we hope to be. And I know in my deepest knowing that when love brings healing, when people stop keeping score and start keeping faith, hope comes home and unpacks its suitcase. And, God willing, never leaves.