Worship for Sunday, January 30, 2022

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 71:1-6

In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free;
incline your ear to me and save me.

Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe;
you are my crag and my stronghold.

Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.

For you are my hope, O Lord God,
my confidence since I was young.

I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother’s womb you have been my strength; my praise shall be always of you.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.   When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.   And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

The Word of the Lord.

Luke 4:21-30

Then [Jesus] began to say to [all in the synagogue in Nazareth,] “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.   There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our God and Father Jesus Christ.

There are so many odd – strange and downright bizarre things in this world. Things that are almost impossible to explain like – platypuses. Seriously – egg laying mammals. What’s up with that!

Or who decided that naming any color “puce” was a good idea.   Really – “puce!” (Just in case you were curious – apparently it was King Louis 16th of France who named the color – puce. He thought the color puce looked like a flea or the color of the dried blood from a flea bite! And puce was his wife’s favorite color . . .)

Or what about calling competitive eating – “a sport.”   It hardly seems all that sporting or particularly athletic to see how many Twinkies or hot dogs you can stuff into your face in 5 minutes. Frankly – competitive eating seems like an anti-sport to me!

And speaking of food – I just don’t understand eating wings (or any food for that matter) that is so hot you might need medical intervention.   People have literally died from eating incredibly spicy food. In 2019 a British man died from eating a super spicy fishcake! Seriously . . .

There are so many incredibly strange things in this world – but perhaps the strangest thing of all is love.

I am absolutely – positively convinced love is one of the strangest things in the entire universe. Love is even stranger than egg laying mammals and the so-called sport of competitive eating.

Think about it. Love is really and truly bizarre. Love leads otherwise completely rational human beings to do the craziest – most completely and utterly irrational things.

Think about some of the things you (or people you know and respect) have done over the years all because of love.

Love for new parents means they willingly give up sleep for months – if not for years of their lives when their children are young. Seriously – I am not kidding or exaggerating on this one.   Researchers at the University of Warwick in England found that new parents face almost 6 entire years of sleep deprivation following the birth of a child. . . 6 YEARS – not 6 months!!!

There are international laws against depriving prisoners of war of sleep. And yet – because we love our babies – we deprive ourselves of sleep night after night – month after month – often for years!

Love for parents also means we share our homes with people who eat all of our food – makes massive piles of laundry – spend all of our hard-earned money – and make really big messes wherever they go.

My basement is currently the scene of at least 5 or 6 devastatingly horrific Nascar accidents and a few Godzilla attacks. I wouldn’t let just anybody – trash my home like this. But love means Will McFarland can trash my basement anytime.

Love for quite a few spouses later today – may mean watching a football game or 2 they care absolutely – positively nothing about.

Love means we put up with temper tantrums – hissy fits and sulking silences – sometimes all on the same trip home from church. (My family puts up with a lot from me!)

Love also means putting up with clueless parents who just don’t get it.   And shockingly annoying siblings.

Sometimes love is a gritty determination to hang in there with someone because you made a promise to love them NO MATTER WHAT!

Sometimes love means standing by someone who is just plain annoying.   And loving someone who isn’t very lovable.

Yes – love means bear hugs. But love can also mean almost unbearable heartache.

Love isn’t all roses – and chocolate – and smiley faces – and laughter.

Love in the real world (where we all live) is far more complicated than your average Hollywood rom-com or sitcom would have us believe. . .

And yet – I am sure you have all felt this sort of love for someone else. That you have loved someone no matter what they did. No matter how frustrating or annoying or just plain human they were. That you have loved someone even when you did not like them very much. That you loved someone because you were just plain determined to keep on loving them NO MATTER WHAT!

This sort of love is amazing. This sort of love is downright impressive. Love like this makes the world a better place. Love like this is an incredible blessing.

But this sort of love is only a very dim reflection of the love God the Father has for each of you.

God’s love for you is so perfect – it is hard for us to comprehend.   God’s love for you is so perfect – it boggles the mind.

Hear again the way Saint Paul describes God’s love for you in what is perhaps the most famous passage about love that has even been written.   Listen carefully to the way Saint Paul describes God’s love and remember this is the way God loves you!

God’s love for you “is patient. God’s love for you is kind. God’s love for you is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. God’s love for you is not irritable or resentful – it does not rejoice in wrongdoing – but rejoices in the truth. God’s love for you bears all things – believes all things – hopes all things – endures all things. And most wonderfully of all God’s love for you never ends.”

That sort of love – is a love in which we can find great comfort and hope. That sort of love changes our lives forever and redeems us for all eternity. That sort of love reveals to us the beauty and joys of heaven.

And this is the way God loves each of you.

God’s love for you is perfect. God’s love for you is unending. God promises to love you forever and ever! Truly this is Good News – AMEN.

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