Walking with Love and Patience
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
7 March 2018
A Vespers reflection based upon Ephesians 2:1-10; Psalm 107; John 3:14-21
Will you pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer. Amen!
So we have been walking in the wilderness of Lent for over three weeks now, pondering, thinking, suffering, and hopefully learning.
During the recent lock-in, the youth looked at this scripture from Ephesians.
I asked what verse stood out.
There were two raised by the youth.
(4) “out of great love with which God loved us”
and (5) that “by grace you have been saved.”
Our youth thought some important words stood out:
faith, love and grace.
Apostle Paul reminds also that “love is patient and love is kind.”
This speaks to our theme today of walking in the wilderness with God with love and with patience.
So what Is grace? What is love?
The youth raised some ideas.
Of grace, they offered the image of beautiful dancers and talented actors.
They thought grace was spending time with loved ones.
Of love, the youth told us stories about a family inviting someone into their homes.
They gave examples of how donations and helping people showed both grace and love.
They also shared how patience, appreciation and courtesy are expressions of love.
(Perhaps someone told them about Paul’s letter to Corinth.)
Yet, another suggested that love and grace happen
when someone helps another after a big fall.
These are great ideas about how one expresses love and grace.
Even more, we also read “for by grace you have been saved through faith…; it is the gift of God…” This extends these ideas.
We can understand love and grace as gifts of God. These are simple gifts.
Through faith, we may find those gifts, right here and right now.
So if we think about what the youth were saying about love and patience
is that grace is not only a gift from God but ultimately an expression of God.
Further, if we are love and patience, are we not an expression of God’s grace?
But wait Tony,
What about doing hard work and following rules to get grace or to Heaven?
I heard this a lot growing up.
Hard work and discipline have benefits.
While there may be benefit to observing “lawful traditions,”
Does that prevent you from doing what is right?
Does that prevent you from welcoming others to receive this gift?
So, what are you doing that prevents you from receiving this gift?
Jesus consistently challenges the rules and traditions,
especially when those rules distort or even prevent God’s Truth.
Let us consider this challenge in the context of John’s Gospel from this week.
This Gospel likes to invoke our senses (e.g. tasting great wine, smelling large odors, touching Jesus, hearing God speaking, or gaining sight).
Specifically, the lesson from John 3:14-21 appeals to our sight;
we will “see” the true light of deeds through God’s truth.
How do you think your deeds (or your love) will look in the light?
How do you let love be in everything you are?
What are you doing to prevent love from being you?
Jesus says Transform and have faith.
God’s grace is here, waiting for us now.
If you look beyond your suffering and wilderness,
you may “see” the light of God peering out
-- shining upon all of our deeds.
Consider how you make your deeds a shining example of God’s love for all.
Is that really difficult?
Yet, this letter to Ephesus reminds us that that is fundamental God – simplicity.
It is us, like me, who makes that simplicity complex.
Still, the gift has been here all the time and waiting.
That gift is right here and now
-- waiting for us to accept.
While we are walking with God in the wilderness,
We are reminded that
We are not alone in our brokenness and suffering.
We don’t let the suffering stop us from welcoming with open hearts.
For that, we can share our gifts given to us.
Be generous and Be kind with love and patience.
Remind others of how God expresses love through your hearts and minds.
With your love and patience in all seasons – not just a couple times of the year,
Embrace and welcome our community with warm hugs and helping hands.
As the youth suggest,
show your love and grace when you reach for others that have fallen.
That grace is right there when we need it the most and it is a simple gift
– no strings attached and no exceptions.
That is one way we walk with God in this wilderness.
Again, we start by letting go of the suffering -- like a Chinese lantern to the sea.
We share our compassion and generosity with a hello and hug.
We share our genuine love with patience.
Thus, we become the expression of God’s grace here and now.
Then, we may find rest in the wilderness.
As Children of God,
we are given that great and wonderful gift of love and grace.
because we know that
God is good all the time
and all the time, God is Good
Let us share and be thankful for God’s gifts of grace and love.