• Steven Marsh

Worshipping The Triune God of Unconditional Love–Love Links Us To One Another: a Reflection on

The Christ Candle is lit. The messiah of hope, peace, joy and love has entered the world. Humanity has been offered grace. Peter Wehner, an opinion writer for The New York Times,writes, “In his book What’s So Amazing About Grace?Philip Yancey describes a conference on comparative religions where experts from around the world debated which belief, if any, was unique to the Christian faith. C.S. Lewis happened to enter the room during the discussion. When he was told the topic was Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions, Lewis responded: “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”[1]It is true. Only Christianity places “grace” at the theological core of its belief system. That is the good news of Christmas.

Samuel’s life is an act of grace itself. His mother’s womb was barren until God answered Hannah’s prayer. Samuel was integral in bringing to and exiting from the throne Saul as King and raising up and anointing David as King. Samuel prepared the way for Jesus. We receive from Samuel and Jesus a vision for being God’s loving family, a community of mutual, self-giving and sacrificial love. Paul in his letter to the Colossians tells us that being this community of love is accomplished by followers of Jesus wearing “love” as their defining garment. And in the Gospel of Luke, we learn that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature and love. Jesus dispensed grace, positioning himself in relationship to and with others in a profoundly loving way.[2]Melissa Browning writes, “Yes, injustice abounds, but God’s justice always wins in the end. No system of governance has ever lived up to the justice that God expects. Our hope comes in knowing that it is within our power to do the work of justice and mercy here and now, even when our rulers are scoundrels.”[3] God’s plan for saving the world through love…loving God and loving others…was and is a methodology of shared leadership. Shared leadership empowers others to know they are loved by God and can love others. Yet, shared leadership is hindered by ego, fear of failure or risk taking, control, inefficiency, pride/insecurity and self-sufficiency.[4]

Loving God and loving others brings salvation. This is good news. Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church and Geneva Presbyterian Church are linked together by and in the love of the Triune God as we know and experience that love in and through Jesus Christ. Again, Wehner remarks, “If you find yourself in the company of people whose hearts have been captured by grace, count yourself lucky. They love us despite our messy lives, stay connected to us through our struggles, always holding out the hope of redemption. When relationships are broken…it’s grace that causes people not to give up, to extend the invitation to reconnect, to work through misunderstandings with sensitivity and transparency.”[5]

When you respond to God’s calling, it is good news for the world. You then represent what a human can look and behave like as envisioned in God’s desire.[6] Happy 25thAnniversary Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church. And in the name of Jesus, we join with you in the next twenty-five years sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others. We’re in this together…Loving God. Loving Others.

[1]Peter Wehner, The New York Times, December 23, 2018.

[2]Some ideas in this paragraph were influenced by Melissa Browning, Rodger Y. Nishioka and Ronald J. Allen in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 1 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), 114-115, 121-122and 123-125.

[3]Melissa Browning in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 1, 115.

[4]Ideas on shared leadership are gleaned from Sandra Maria Van Opstal The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2016), 92-93.

[5]Peter Wehner, The New York Times, December 23, 2018.

[6]This idea gleaned from by Alan Gregory in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 1, 19-20.

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