Sermon for Reformation Sunday/Stewardship Sunday 2019: “Agapé”
Today I want to talk to you about Love.
First I have two questions for you:
- In your life, whom do you love?
- And would you do anything for them?
Now when I use “love” today I mean a particular kind of love.
In the New Testament there are three definitions for “love”
The first two are:
The third definition is the one I want to talk about today.
It is the deepest kind of love one can have.
In my life, I have five Agapé loves:
My family (including my amazing in-laws)
When you have Agapé love, your perspective on life changes.
For Kristen it was love at first forgiveness. I know I shared this story before but allow me to repeat it:
Kristen and I had been dating for a few months, and she was getting ready for a test.
So I thought I could earn major boyfriend points by sending her a sweet and tender e-card.
When I sent it, I patted myself on the back and awaited her sweet reply.
And I got it.
She wrote back, “That’s a sweet card.
Heather was the girl I was dating long long long before I met Kristen.
I thought I was sunk.
I was ready for the inevitable “how dare you!” break up.
Instead, Kristen with a laugh and smile at how sad I was at my mistake forgave me.
She said, “it’s ok.”
I knew then, I better hold on to her forever.
And I knew that my life was now about making her life better
For Paul and Maddie:
It was when I first saw Paul open his eyes for the first time, seeing those beautiful blue eyes, and that first CRY/SCREAM.
And for Maddie the same thing, but especially when I first heard her sweet little cry, and saw even then her reddish hair.
Because of them I knew what love at first sight meant.
Because of Kristen, Paul, and Maddie my perspective on life changed.
It wasn’t about me and my needs or my desires.
It was making sure they were loved, cared for always.
I realized I came in second.
But when we have that Agapé love, that is what happens with our lives.
Agapé love changes us.
Agapé love gets us to a place where the life of someone else always comes first.
Today, our lessons are all about love.
And who comes first.
For God, who comes first is US.
God always puts us first in all that is done.
All that God does is out of love.
So then when in our first lesson, God professes love, God does it by forgetting.
God forgets our sins.
Because God chooses to remember our sins no more, we are FREE to let those sins go.
You know the sins I am talking about!
The sins and the mistakes that seem to follow us every day in our lives.
The sins we keep wishing we never committed.
The sins that can weigh us down,
And keep us in the past.
Well God has said, “If I can AND DO forget your sins. Then you can too!”
God continues to profess his Agapé love to us in the reading from Romans.
And this love is for all, because WE ALL HAVE FALLEN SHORT.
There are no exceptions among us.
We are all guilty of failing God.
And yet God justifies us through Jesus.
Let me tell you what Justify means:
It means we are free of all charges.
It’s like Perry Mason or Matlock, when the defendant hears those words, “You are free to go”
We are free to GO and live because God’s Agapé love has freed us.
God’s Agapé love is always going to be greater than our sins.
Agapé love does not make God blind.
It makes us SEE.
It makes us SEE who matters.
As the Gospel lesson says, where your treasure is, your heart will be too.
“Treasure” 1) the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up
The precious things, and people that you care about, that is where your heart is.
So again let me ask you, WHOM do you love?
And would you do anything for them?
I can tell you without hesitation that I would do anything for the ones I love.
Kristen, Paul, Maddie, Family…
That’s only four.
And I told you I have five.
Let me get to the fifth.
It’s St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church congregation.
And I can tell you the exact time and place I fell in love with this place.
It was March 19th, 2017.
My first Sunday here.
It was love at first sight, meeting all you nice people
It was love at first sound, the SPIRIT band, the Praise Band, the Choir.
I still remember saying to Bill after hearing SPIRIT, you mean they all GO HERE?!
But then that week I started hearing and seeing the ministries:
Monday Evening Meals for the homeless
Tuesday Morning Quilter making blankets for children across the world in need,
Tuesday Evening providing a place for people recovering from drugs
Wednesday Evening fellowship with great food and worship
Just to name a few Ministry Moments.
Those moments, opened my heart to you.
All of you.
And I love each and every one of you.
And I know I am not the only one who loves St. Paul’s.
I know that this congregation has given many of you:
A community of faith
A deeper relationship with God
A sense of Stewardship and Call
Those things happen when God’s Agapé love grabs a hold of you
This year our Fall Stewardship Campaign is called Believe.
We are doing God’s work.
We will do God’s work.
God’s work will be done.
And today I want to say that I believe with my heart and soul that this campaign comes from a place of Agapé love
Love for this church,
Love for one another,
Love for our neighbor,
And love of our God.
I believe we are here for a reason.
God has placed us here.
Since I have been here, I have heard many people say, well we made budget thanks to last minute gift or donations.
I don’t see that was last minute.
I see that as GOD saying, “People of St. Paul’s, I love what you are doing. Keep it up.”
God’s got this.
God’s always got this because God’s always got us.
The last few years, the number of pledges we receive on average is ________
I know we are going to go beyond that number this year.
And I am not the only one who thinks this.
One of our members, someone who loves this church, has promised a challenge gift of an additional $500 when we receive at least 126 pledges which is our goal.
By responding to God’s LOVE, we are and will change lives
Just imagine what 2021 will look like because of people’s generous gifts in 2020,
Hearts will be moved and seeds of giving will result.
The ministries we want to start,
The improvements we want to make,
The staff we want to support,
Our response will show how this Church is a gift.
I give thanks to God that St. Paul’s is right here because we are making a difference.
We are changing lives for the better.
We are telling people that they are loved by God, with no conditions.
We invite everyone to be a part of this place, again no conditions.
And I believe that God, Jesus, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Disciples, Martha and Mary are in the stands cheering us on as we get to work.
For God has given us the LOVE and the FREEDOM to respond.
Because we love God.
And we can and will do everything for God.