God’s Relentless Love

On September 15, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

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God’s Relentless Love
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Psalm 23; Luke 15.1-7

Let us dwell together in peace, let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

God is good (all the time)
All the time (God is good)
God is good (all the time)
All the time (God is good)
God is good (all the time)
All the time (God is good)
Alleluia (Amen).

Emily Dickinson wrote, “That love is all there is, is all we know of love.”

That love is all there is, is all we know of love.

God is love, and love is all there is.

So why is there so much hate, anger, fear, and ugliness in the world?

Where does evil come from and what can we do about it are questions philosophers, priests, and shamans have asked since the the dawn of consciousness. But I know this…

When I am loving, it feels good. It feels right. Love brings joy and peace and a sense of fulfillment.
When I express or demonstrate or even contemplate love, the world for those moments makes sense and I am occupying my rightful place in the universe.

When I am unloving…when I am enraged, or afraid, or bitter…no matter how justified I feel in nursing those thoughts and emotions, I do not feel “right.” Only love feels right.

I believe that is because love is all there is in truth, and when I am temporality out of truth, or unaware of truth, or in opposition to truth, then I feel conflicted because I am at odds with reality itself.

God is ultimate reality.
God is love.
Love is all there is.
So, when we are loving, we are expressing God.
When we are unloving, we are denying God, and to deny what is really real will make us out of sorts.

The religious life, the spiritual path is meant to constantly remind us that we are one with infinite Love.
We are loved by God because God is love and all love can do is love.
God can only give what God is…oranges will never give grape juice….an orange must express its truth, so an orange gives orange juice.

God is love. God must express God’s truth, so God loves. God must express what God is.

That’s what Jesus is showing us today.

First of all – Jesus is socializing with people that others labeled as sinners. They were tax collectors and they were called sinners because they were often dishonest. They were in service of an empire that conquered and exploited people, and they often got rich in that service, sometimes by padding their own nests…over charging and pocketing the difference.

Tax collectors were hated.
But Jesus found ways to love those who others hated.
Jesus accepted his unity with God, and God is love, so Jesus knew it was his job to show love, especially to those who were unloved.

Jesus tried to explain the relentless love of God with a parable. He imagines a shepherd who is in charge of 100 sheep.
One wanders away.
But the Shepherd will not lose a single lamb. Not one. And so the shepherd is relentless in finding the lamb that wandered off.

God will not, cannot lose a single soul. God’s love is relentless.
Maybe church or society or family has labeled this person or that as lost or sinful, but God loves that person and will never let them go.

God is love, and
that love is all there is, is all we know of love.

Now, Jesus does add that heaven rejoices when a sinner repents. Remember, the people called sinners in the story, and throughout the gospels, are tax collectors, and their great sin was dishonesty. They cheated people. If they were to give up their dishonesty, if they would live in the power of truth, that would make heaven happy. There would be rejoicing.

This isn’t telling people to convert from one religion to another, or to hate themselves, or to feel guilty or ashamed. It’s telling people to come out into the light and joy of truth.

When a lesbian or gay man comes out of the closet and starts living their truth openly, heaven rejoices.

When a transgender or non-binary or gender queer person speaks their truth and lives their authentic life, heaven rejoices.

When allies of queer people stand up for their LGBTQ+ loved ones and share the truth of their love for God’s Rainbow people, heaven rejoices.

When people are honest about their questions and doubts, heaven rejoices.

When people face their self-destructive habits and say, “I am powerless over this problem but I believe there is a power that can restore me to sanity”, heaven rejoices.

When we speak our truth and live in the authenticity of who we are, heaven rejoices.

That’s what it means for a sinner to repent and heaven to rejoice…it means there is holy power in living our truth.

And one truth that I want us all to embrace is this: God is love…all-inclusive, unconditional, everlasting, omnipresent love.

A god who is omnipresent love will never lose you or forget you or abandon you. God’s love will never let you go.

Bigotry, injustice, economics, disease, war, accidents, disaster…nothing can separate us from God’s love. We can tap into comfort and hope and empowerment at any time because we are surrounded by and filled with an everlasting love.

How can learn to trust that? By saying it over and over. The psalmist shows us today the power of affirmations, of reminding ourselves of God’s goodness and God’s nearness.

The LORD is my shepherd (a shepherd who will never let me wander off, who will never give up on me, who refuses to lose me); there is nothing I lack.
God restores my strength.
God guides me along the right path…
Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side…
Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life.
I will dwell in the house of the LORD…

Say it until you feel it.
Feel it until you believe it.
Believe it until you know it.

God is love.
I am one with God.
God’s love cannot let me go.

There’s not a spot where God is not.
I am God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.
The past is past and the future has infinite possibilities.
There is good for me and I ought to have it.

God is my shepherd.
God restores my strength.
Only goodness and love will pursue me.
I will always dwell in God’s presence.

And this is the good news. Amen.

Divine Love is all-inclusive,
And omnipresent.

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