Sermon: Gerhard Weissenbrunner
„Love one another as I have loved you!!“ (John15,12) This is most meaninful love-learn-program which the world has ever heard or seen. God’s love amongst the people, Jesus Christ!
Which person knows how big and endless love can be? Human love is limited. Yes, we love our partners, our children, our family and similar units. Through this we know that love has borders. And yet we feel a yearning for more. Countless tearjerkers are celebrated in love stories and let us live a dream, namely to be truly loved.
„Love, love is a heavenly power!“ sings a loving and wedded couple at the end of the operetta, “The Gypsy Baron” from Johan Strauss jun.
Whoever was once or currently in love, knows about the power of love. It feels tragic if it is not reciprocated. But it feels incredible when it is reciprocated. One feels like they are in seventh heaven. Then one feels it – the power of heaven.
Jesus lives this heavenly love. „As my Father has loved me, so I will love you!”. (John15,9) God, whose nature is love, manifests in his son. The son experiences this love and gives it to others. Jesus experiences and lives: „I am loved!“.
This, „I am loved!“ is given by Jesus to his disciples. And in Jesus they are allowed to experience life, death and resurrection: „they are loved!”.
Overwhelmed by this love, they have continued to give the happy message. They went out into the world and announced: „God loves me!”. Ever since countless disciples have announced the core of the Gospel: “I know, I am loved!”.
However, it has it’s own explanation with love. It is the only one that increases when it’s wasted. Love wants to be learned! But how should this happen? Jesus gives his good advice: “When you follow my command, you will remain in my love.” (John15,10)
What does our Lord say here? Does he bind his love on the commandments? Does it not say that God loves unconditionally, whether big or small, whether slim or fat, whether rich or power, whether black or white? Does it not say that God’s love is for everyone without inspecting the person? And now Jesus is adding a condition to this?
Yes, and so it is written, and we read it. But why?
It is the most natural thing in the world, that an answer should come to a contribution. We learn through this. The mother smiles to her baby, the baby sees this smile and learns how to smile. Ones in love pay attention and get to know each other. One is interested in a language and before one can speak it, one learns it. We move in traffic and learn the rules for our own protection.
This is the same with the commandments. They are directives of his love. By following the commandments and living we learn love.
In the last theological discussion thoughts about dependence on God and on Jesus emerged. Every reacted rather energetic and plead for freedom. If God gives freedom, then it is not fitting tob e dependent upon something? Freedom doesn’t mean to be dependent on God or on Jesus? If so it would be a contradiction! Different arguments from the participants lead to tense mood. Then suddenly the tension disappeared. Christoph objected: replace the words, „God“ or „Jesus“ with the word, „love“. And suddenly it became clear. What we know from our lives, love makes dependency. Love reduces certain freedoms. Love searches not for freedom from something but to something.
And love looks for an answer. God looks for an answer. His commandments are life-giving. They are good. They are directions. They are guides. They give the right direction. They are easier to hold than not to. Not keeping them is life denying and life rejecting. God’s commandments are the love-learn-program on the path to luck.
I will give an example:
We know the third commandment: „You shall sanctify the day of the Lord!“ For persons of the Jewish faith, this is the Sabbath. For the Christians the „day of the Lord“ is Sunday. Now it has become common with us that Sunday is the day off from work. I know many people, who call themselves Christian, who take the liberty on Sundays to do all kinds of leisure activities and actually do feel the need of church service.
I would like to make it clear, that I do not feel authorized to criticize them. But I clearly state, that they are making a big mistake when they think that they do not need church service. They would find God also in the nature or in a certain community amongst people.
„to sanctify the day of the Lord“ does not mean just not to go to work. But it means, to come to the community of God. God does a special service to use during mass. It is the weekly promised love-learning day. In a special way here is hear God’s promise: „you are loved “.
Sunday is there to learn to love. We do not really learn the love of God in the nature or by doing sports or by sleeping late. There we maybe learn thankfulness, or respect but not love.
A good example of how to understand God’s commandments is to take a look at our fellow men the Jews. Starting from birth the children learn which meaning God’s commandments have for their lives. From the start they are taught sacred writings. Starting young they are encouraged to ask questions and to find the answers themselves. From the beginning they learn about God’s love who lead their people from slavery into freedom.
All 10 commandments have the purpose of learning God’s love. Jesus explains this love-learn process in details in the mountain sermon (Mathew Chapters 5-7). This is something for the advanced. Whoever is advanced in this learning process will be able to understand and classify Jesus’ example of love of the enemy. It ist he most meaning way of making swords to ploughshares. Namely to lead to peace. From personal peace to world peace. Love can do this. Love has the power to change the world. Love is the cure for the world.
The Christian congregation is a love-learn project Jesus Christ. It is the preferred place where God’s love can be lived and learned. It has many addresses. They are listed around the world. From the Roman Catholic Church to the Orthodox. From the Baptists to the Pentacost Congregations. From the countless Free Churches to the United Methodist Church. The variety of the church is a wealth. Also the address 8010 Graz, Wielandgasse 10 belongs to this wealth. Yet it is not the building which brings the love of God to expression; not the wood or the stone, it is us! We are the House of God!
We are the ones who full of hope hang on to God’s love. It is poured into our hearts, thorugh the Holy Ghost, which is given to us. We Sie ist ausgegossen in unsere Herzen, durch den Heiligen Geist, der uns gegeben ist. We have taken this delicious way of love.We are not finished with love, but we learn. And the joy of God’s commandments encourages us and make us proud.
We also hear the request of our Lord Jesus who speaks to us, “you are loved! You are loved! Keep the commandments because I have held htem! Love one another! And let your fellow men be a part of your love. All who belong to you. YOur children, your family members, your neighbors, your relatives, your acquantences. And further to all people who I send to you. So that they can learn and acknowledge what true love is! Amen.