May 28

Rev Gav

What’s love got to do with it?

A religious teacher called Nicodemus tried to comprehend God’s rescue plan for humanity, and Jesus closed with these words (paraphrased), “Mate, it’s all about love.”

“What’s love got to do with it?” asked Tina Turner in her 1984 hit. Well, as it turns out, “everything.”

Last Sunday was what we in the church call Trinity Sunday, and it was a celebration of what Christians call the ‘Doctrine of the Trinity’ — the idea that God is both one and three at the same time: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Coincidentally, last week I also had a conversation with a close Jewish friend of mine who said she simply could not get ‘past’ the idea of the Holy Trinity. Well, she is in good company, because it took the church some 300 years to cement the idea, however, to me, it makes perfect sense. I know I have written about this before, but perhaps it needs explaining again.

On an intellectual and rational level, I agree, that something cannot be both one and three at the same time, yet, quantum physicists live with paradoxes all the time, describing them as, “those things that emerge from a clash with intuition or with the established order.” For Christians, God is a paradox. How inconsiderate of God to refuse to fit neatly into a box and defy my human logic! However, as with many aspects of God, it helps to look through the lens of love.

We have no problem with the idea that love exists. We know it intellectually, we feel it emotionally, and we express it physically. The Apostle Paul wrote that if we speak without love we are like a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” In other words, we would be all noise and no substance for it is love that brings life to our humanity.

Last week, I also presided at the wedding of a young local couple, and I am reminded of the opening words from the marriage ceremony, lifted directly from the Bible: “God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them,” which are followed by the opening prayer which begins, “God of wonder and of joy: grace comes from you, and you alone are the source of life and love.” In other words, Christians recognise that God is love and the source of all love for all humanity.

And here is the thing about love. Love cannot exist in a vacuum. Love, by very definition, needs to be expressed. Love needs to be given away. Love needs an object to be the recipient of that love. So, think about this. Before creation, if God existed, and God was a single entity — only ‘one’ — how could God be love?

Looking through the lens of love, it makes perfect sense to me that God in God’s ‘oneness’ would also be community, a triangle of love with the Father loving the Son, the Son loving the Father, the Father loving the Spirit, the Spirit loving the Father, the Son loving the Spirit, and the Spirit loving the Son. Theologians call this relationship of love the ‘cosmic dance’ and I like that image, as it expresses the joy and intimacy of holding hands and dancing with loved ones. The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity is completely consistent with our concept of love.

And God, in God’s oneness, being the source of all love, expressed that love through creation. God created an object of love, the universe and all that is in it, including us, part of God’s evolving creation that has been endued with godlike powers, created in God’s own image, with the capacity to love.

Yet, we do not have to have great intellect to see that the world is not as it should be. Is it?

There is this wonderful discourse in Chapter 3 of John’s gospel, where a religious teacher called Nicodemus tries to comprehend what Jesus is talking about. Jesus explained to him God’s rescue plan for humanity, closing with these words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have life now and forever. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

There it is again, God’s love, being poured out for our sake. How could a God of love do anything less than to express that love for humanity by reaching out to us; to help us, to save us, and to heal us. This is the good news of Jesus Christ, and it really is good news. How will the story end? I do not know, but at least I now have hope, demonstrated in a God of love who will never leave us nor forsake us, her beloved creation.

This week, may you take up that invitation to join in with the cosmic dance of God. May you take the hand of Jesus and be welcomed into a new way of living — the way of love. Continuing with the opening marriage prayer, “Pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, that we may worship you now with thankful hearts and serve you always with willing minds.”

Oh yes, and remember that when asked, “What’s love got to do with it?” the answer is, “everything.”

Amen.

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