Transforming Love

Easter 5B – Ms. Kayla Aspeslagh

Recently I saw this precious video of a 3-year-old whose favorite day of the week is Tuesday.  Why, might you ask? It’s because it is trash day and the 3-year-old is infatuated with his garbage men.  As soon as he hears the truck on their street he runs out to the yard, eagerly waiting for them to get to his house.  Once there you see an excited greeting from both the boy and his friends. The workers, who take extra time to chat it up with him and lift him up to pull levers as the 3 year old desperately wants to help his hard working friends.  When asked how this special relationship started the workers shared that one day they were at the 3 year old’s house and his grandma had on an Alabama sweatshirt. Much like in Ohio, their team also has a greeting that fans share with one another, and so they said ‘Roll Tide. Ever since they exchanged the common greeting, the 3 year old began waving to the men each week, and soon enough, waves turned into the boy and his grandmother making treats for the garbage collectors. Now the boy anxiously awaits their arrival every Tuesday morning with a bag of snacks in tow and ready to lend them a helping hand loading the trash into their big green trucks. What started as a friendly greeting has become a special and important relationship for not only the boy but also his favorite garbage men, all who have been transformed by love through relationship.

Love is one of those tricky English words that can mean different things depending on context.  Just think of all the ways in which we use love…I love the mountains, I love that outfit on you, I love the Buckeyes, I love ice cream, telling a friend or family member I love you… sometimes love gets interchanged with an excited like of something. But what is love? We could attempt to define it in many ways, and we could provide examples of how we have experienced love, yet it would still not be enough. We could look at our relationships and draw from those, but even then, we would not have a certain definition. Let’s be honest though, love is hard!  Love means having to first be open and accept the fact that we are beloved by the one who created us no matter what and not because of who we are or what we have done. This can be hard because we can feel broken or unworthy.  Love also involves a lot of vulnerability and/or openness with others that we tend to fear because we don’t like to feel vulnerable.  Love involves relationship with others, whether individual or group, which comes with bringing each human and all their humanness in connection with one another. Today’s text points us to the greatest love, agape love.  Agape love is unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance, a love that we first learn because God is love and God loves us.  We called then to agape love one another. Loving others despite our differences, our feuds, our hurt, our joy, our divisions we create, but love them. That can feel impossible and that is why we can’t do it alone.  We have to have God.  We have to have God abiding in us.  Being in relationship with us. Transforming us by love through relationship.

Beloved hear this, God loves you.  This love is not something that is a quid pro quo or transactional, God love us first. This love takes no action on our part and comes in abundance from God.  That is amazing love!  Today we celebrate with Isla, her family, and her godparents as she is claimed and marked as a Child of God through the waters of baptism.  As she is baptized, may we also remember our own baptisms and the God who loves us and calls us their own.  One of my favorite parts growing up (and even now) of the baptism ritual is the lighting of the candle that is given to the person being baptized with the reminder to let your light shine so others may see God at work in the world and glorify God.  In other words, let others see God’s crazy abundant love for them through you. During the Easter season are reminded of this incredible love of God, looking to the resurrected cross, a reminder of God sending Jesus into the world to die for us to create a clear example of love. A different kind of love. This embodied love. This love that liberates. A love that clears our eyes to see the injustices of this world and empowers us to act in ways that seek the well-being of all. A love that makes us curious about systems that oppress.

Friends, the world is hurting and as we look to this love, and know God is love, we are called into the world to love others.  To share this liberating love, this love of justice and empowerment.  Through God’s love we can do things we didn’t think or believe we could do.  God’s love gives us courage.  Courage to confront systems of oppression in our communities, courage to hear stories of others who experiences may not be our own, courage to advocate with and for our siblings who are being oppressed, courage to love in a way that is counter-cultural. And when it is hard and we feel like we cannot do it, we turn to prayer, we turn to community, and we have faith that God is abiding in us, loving fiercely through us so others may see God in us and the love we are sharing. Much like the butterfly whose transformation is not instant, the transformation we experience in love through relationships isn’t either, but it’s worth the wait.  So friends, let us go out in love, letting our light’s shine so others may see God in us.