There’s Sugar in the Bowl Rev Dr Durrell Watkins There is a great old hymn of the faith on my heart this morning. I woke up singing it for some reason. It’s actually very powerful with an empowering theological message. In the song, the singer names her desire, knows it is possible for her to […]
There’s Sugar in the Bowl
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
There is a great old hymn of the faith on my heart this morning. I woke up singing it for some reason. It’s actually very powerful with an empowering theological message.
In the song, the singer names her desire, knows it is possible for her to experience it, expects her need to be met, imagines what it would be like to experience the improvement, feels glad about it and is willing to allow it to happen. That’s the formula for powerful prayer!
At the last supper, when they had finished eating, Jesus and his friends sang a hymn together and went out into the garden. I believe this was the hymn:
I need a little sugar in my bowl.
I need a little sweetness down in my soul.
I could stand a bit of loving’ oh so bad;
I feel kind of funny and I feel so sad.
I want a little steam on my clothes.
Maybe I could fix things up so they’ll go.
What’s the matter hot papa, come and save your mama’s soul
‘cause I need a little sugar in my bowl!
I believe it was Bessie Smith who first made that song popular about 1931.
In case you didn’t figure it out, “sugar” was an idiom for love.
The love Bessie was singing about was meant to be expressed physically, but love was the desire nevertheless.
Side note: Bessie was notoriously bisexual well before it was generally accepted to be a normal expression of human sexuality. So, while the lyrics express desire for romantic love with a hot papa, Bessie often enjoyed the company of hot mamas as well. And this is the good news!
The truth is, love is pretty much the answer to every question, the miracle we seek with every prayer.
Now let me this about love: when people judge you to be a sinner and then try to make themselves feel better about their harsh judgment by saying they hate the sin but love the sinner, they still are affirming they hate something about you and even while saying they love you they have accused you of being something unlovable. So, the love the sinner/hate the sin line is just another form of abuse; it isn’t loving at all.
Here is what a New Testament writer said about love:
“…anyone who loves…knows God” (1 Jn 4.7)
That same writer said, “Perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is a fear of judgment, and this shows that we have not yet fully trusted divine love in us” (1 Jn 4.18-19)
And, most simply, that writer said, “…God is love” (1 John 4.8).
Love is what God is. How we know God isn’t by arguing over this opinion or that and calling those opinions beliefs. How we know God isn’t by how much water we use at baptism or how often we take holy communion. How we know God isn’t by who we hate or what traditions we hold dear. God is love, and so the way to know God is to love.
And St Paul even said as much. In the reading this morning, we heard,
“[All the] commandments are summed up in this phrase – Love your neighbor as yourself…Love is the fulfilling of the law.”
The gospel story of the Good Samaritan shows us who our neighbors are…Samaritans were looked down on by Jesus’ community. They were an ethnic and a religious group that Jesus’ community held a lot of bigotry toward, and Jesus imagines a scene where someone in need is helped by a person about whom the hearers of the story would have initially had a low opinion.
Jesus says those who treat others the way they would like to be treated are demonstrating the love that God is, and as it is in God that we all live, all people all our neighbors.
Love is actually what God is, and as God is our Substance, our Source that means we are what God is…our true nature is love.
We are our best and truest selves when we love and when we love ourselves, we then have ourselves to lovingly share with the world.
We can love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In fact, I think most of the slander, vicious gossip, war, selfishness, and marginalization of groups in the world come from us loving others as little as we love ourselves.
When we love ourselves more, we’ll love our neighbors more, and when we love our neighbors more, more needs will be met. But we can’t give what we don’t have so to have love to give we must first learn to love ourselves and we do that by realizing that we are part of God and God is love, unconditional, all-inclusive, never-ending love.
In Matthew 18.3 Jesus is quoted as saying, “Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kin-dom of heaven.”
Little children haven’t yet believed the lie that they are sinners. Children, until they are told otherwise, assume they are good and believe they deserve happiness. They believe almost anything is possible.
We lose that innate sense of our sacred value but the spiritual journey is about reclaiming the knowledge of our goodness, our sacred value. And once we know that we are truly good, then goodness is what we have to share.
God is love, and we are incarnations of that love. Wherever we are, God is; whatever God is, we are. God is love, so we are love, and to believe that is to love ourselves, and to truly love ourselves is to love others because we are all part and parcel of God.
And from this understanding of love, justice, compassion, generosity, community building, healing, comfort…these flow naturally and abundantly, and that’s how the kin-dom of God is ushered in.
We allow the love that God is to be expressed through us, and then divine Love is made visible in, through, and as us.
The field of love will never be a battle field,
the table of love will never allow anyone to be hungry,
the power of love sees medical care as a right rather than a privilege,
the kin-dom of love doesn’t erect barriers at artificial borders to keep people out,
the community of love knows that it is love shared and not gender identities that make relationships sacred.
When we love ourselves, and we love our neighbors as ourselves, and we know that everyone is our neighbor, then hunger and sickness and war and injustice must fade away (maybe not overnight, but the progress will begin).
That’s the kin-dom of God, the kin-dom of Love, and that, not dogma or doctrine or tradition, but embracing, embodying, and sharing the unconditional, all-inclusive love that God is, that was the message of Jesus and it remains Jesus’ call to those who would follow him.
Maybe you’ve known heartache. Most of us have. And I can’t tell you when or how the circumstances will improve, but I can tell you how to generate more hope and courage right now, and that’s to begin to love yourself more.
Don’t beat yourself up because you seem to have a dead end job or no job.
Don’t ridicule yourself because you haven’t had a healthy relationship in many years, if ever.
Don’t shame yourself because you found yourself in a scary situation that left you fearful for years thereafter.
Don’t berate yourself because your health declined.
Don’t punish yourself because you lost your savings, or missed an opportunity, or treated someone badly. Make amends if you can, learn from the mistakes, try to do better from now on, forgive yourself, and begin to love yourself more. Some sort of healing will start to take place in your soul.
The past is past. You can’t undo it. But you can forgive yourself, love yourself, bless yourself, and choose to see what is good for you right here and right now. Love yourself enough to find something to be glad about and grateful for, and you will feel much better.
Tell yourself daily that you are not your mistakes, you are not your past, you are not anyone’s opinion of you, you are part and parcel of God, which means you are forever part of perfect love, and perfect love drives out all fear, so you deserve to love yourself, you deserve to be fearless, you deserve to enjoy every day of your life.
The Buddha said, “You, as much as anyone in the universe, deserve your love and affection.” If you’ll give yourself that gift today, you’ll find you have it to share, and in that sharing, we are actually sharing the power of God and that’s what makes all miracles possible.
We all want a little bit of sugar in our bowls, that is, we all want to feel love deep in our souls.
And that love is already there. Because love is what God is, and God is omnipresent, which means there’s not a spot where God is not.
God, perfect love, is right where you are, and you are forever part of that divine Love.
The sugar is already in your bowl. Let yourself enjoy its sweetness from this moment on.
And this is the good news. Amen.
© Durrell Watkins 2014
God is love.
Perfect love casts out all fear.
I know love, so I know God.
And so I also know hope, joy, and peace.