I John 4:7-21 : Trinity I
May 28, 2016
St Paul’s Anglican Church

“Where is Love?”

A young orphan boy named Oliver Twist in Charles Dickens’ famous novel, fled a cruel workhouse in the poverty of the 18th-century for the streets of London – and subsequently fell in with a nefarious gang of thieves. Discovering a dark conspiracy all around him, little Oliver asked one of the most probing and important questions of all time:

Where is love?
Many have claimed to know its whereabouts… Baby-boomers sought it in a San Francisco district known as Haight Ashbury in the 1960s, but love was not found there – only a trendy substitute.
Almost half-a-million young people later sought “love” in a muddy pasture in Sullivan County, New York – at an event known as Woodstock – where “free love” (as it was called) was available for the “taking”… But once again, love was not found there – only the next get-with-it substitute.
Across the intervening years, many have heralded the whereabouts of love – sometimes the announcement comes through tabloids… often in the lyrics of musicians… always in the dark whispers of those set upon “making a buck” at the expense of others – commonly known as fleecing.
In our own day, “Millennials” would seem to believe that love and acceptance can be bought… purchased… or perhaps bartered… But once again, the trail only grows cold, leading to yet more disappointment.
Where then is its place? Where then is love to be found? And once discovered how will we recognize it?
All true seekers of love and acceptance will find their questions answered in the Bible! There the Almighty has declared its name over 500 times!
The love it describes is not the syrupy, saccharine variety of self-centered emotion, but strong enough to reach beyond us – first in reverence to the One Who brought us into being and made us in His holy Image!
If only one Biblical text were available to furnish us answers, that text would surely be the grouping of fifteen verses assembled before us in this morning’s Epistle Lesson – the most focused text in the Sacred Scriptures regarding love, where it is mentioned 27 times in the span of fifteen verses.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
What did Jesus declare as the two Great Commandments?
…thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
But what do these commands to love really mean? Many definitions have been set forth… but none is as true-to-the-mark as that of faithful Noah Webster in his 1828 Dictionary of the English Language.
“The love of God… springs from… His attributes or… character, which afford the highest delight to the sanctified heart. Esteem and reverence… and a fear of offending Him is its inseparable effect… […to love our neighbor is] to have… good will for [him].”
An old story is told of a Welsh miner, named Thomas Samson, who put in long, hard hours at the mine – his life in constant danger far beneath the surface of the earth where he labored hidden from the light of day – in order to make a meager living and put food on the family table.
One day, the foreman of the mine approached him with the welcome words, “Thomas, I have found an easier job for you above ground. You will have less physical work and… earn more money. … interested?”
“Oh yes, I am very interested indeed, sir” was his swift reply. But then he paused, and in quiet reflection continued, “Sir, would you please consider giving the job to my friend, Tregony, instead? He is not as strong as I am and he is not able to work as hard as I can. And I am afraid the work below in the mine will shorten his life.”
The foreman was moved by his love and compassion — and gave the job to his friend Tregony, as he requested!
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
This would certainly seem to be God’s answer to Cain’s question of old (“Am I my brother’s keeper?”), after he had slain his own sibling… and the Ancient of Days asked him regarding Abel’s whereabouts.
To love another person made in God’s Image its own reward. To love another person made in God’s Image is, in the words of C.S. Lewis, to carry a “weight of glory.” It is to discover the meaning of what is meant by the word “love.” Love is not self-centered. Far from it, love is directed toward others! Love is caring for others in a Godly manner!
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

No man has ever seen God… yet we feel His presence and we perceive His abiding company when we love one another as His Holy Family.
I’m sure I’ve told you of the small girl who had such a wonderful day at Church – exalted music… the family kneeling and sitting together in the worship of God… people greeting her… people encouraging her… her friends playing with her afterwards. She told her father on the way home from Church how happy she was. He suggested that she write a letter to God in order to thank Him – which she did.
When she later showed it to him, this is what he read: “Dear God, we had such a wonderful day in Church. I only wish you could have been there! Of course, God’s loving presence is what made the day so special! God’s presence is always the key to love! For He is love!
Where is love? It is first and foremost found with our Heavenly Father – the Wellspring and Fountainhead of all that is good. But love is also found among His children – though deeply flawed and imperfect!
According to tradition, the Apostle John, who loved our Lord and leaned upon Him at the Last Supper lived many, many years – almost to the threshold of the second century A.D. Knowing just how rare and fragile genuine love and its peaceable fruit are, tradition maintains that when he was too old… too frail… and too feeble to walk under his own power, others would carry him into Christ’s Churches… and he would always speak the same words until they could no longer be heard:
Little children, Love One Another. It is the Lord’s Commandment…
Little children, Love One Another. It is the Lord’s Commandment…
And so it is… and so we should also love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
This is the Word of the Lord forever. A-men.

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