• Steven Marsh

Worshipping The Triune God of Unconditional Love–Love’s Task to Save The World: a Reflec

The Hope, Peace, Joy and Love candles are lit. Advent has prepared us for the birth of Jesus and linked us to the climax of redemptive history with the Second Coming of Jesus. We participate with God in God’s saving mission.

There is folklore surrounding Poland’s famous concert pianist and Prime Minister, Ignace Paderewski. Part of the lore includes this story:

A mother, wishing to encourage her young son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets for a Paderewski performance. When the night arrived, they found their seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic Steinway waiting on stage. Soon the mother found a friend to talk to, and the boy slipped away. When eight o’clock arrived, the spotlights came on, the audience quieted, and only then did they notice the boy up on the bench, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” His mother gasped, but before she could retrieve her son, the master appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard. “Don’t quit–keep playing,” he whispered to the boy. Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side, encircling the child, to add a running obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized.[1]

The strength of this story is the role of the master pianist. For the human story, it is the role of God. God is present with us all the time and whispers, “Don’t quit–keep playing.” God loves us. It is this truth that will save the world.

The world in Micah’s day was not as it should be. There was not peace on earth. In the midst of chaos, Micah announces that a new and different kind of ruler is on the way. Micah is not speaking of a better version of David showing up. No, Micah leans into that leader being the one born in Bethlehem. Yes, Jesus would be a leader who trusted in his Father’s plan. Jesus trusted in God rather than military might. Daniel L. Smith-Christopher writes, “Jesus is likely seen not merely as a descendent from, but actually as a corrective to, the violent and flawed David.”[2]The writer of Hebrews reinforces Micah’s claim centuries later that it is not the blood of animals, but the blood of Christ that seals eternal redemption and life anew now. The reading in the Gospel of Luke demonstrates that through Mary the new ruler was on his way. All three texts demonstrate how loving God and loving others saves the world. God is bold in rescuing a desperate people. When a people are aware of their lowliness, literally and figuratively, therein lies their best awareness to God’s saving intervention. We are made in the image of God and belong to God before we ever believe.[3]

It is through Jesus’ baptism, earthly obedience, death and resurrection that God’s purpose for humanity and humanity’s brokenness intersect. 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]Do not forget that you have sat down on the piano bench of life and begun playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” God stands behind you and with his left hand plays a bass part and with the right a running obbligato. God is present with you all the time and whispers, “Don’t quit–keep playing.”

God loves you. It is this truth that will save the world. Loving God and loving others brings salvation. This is good news.

[1]Taken from Craig Brian Larson,750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1996).

[2]Daniel L. Smith-Christopher 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), 49.

[3]Some ideas in this paragraph were influenced by Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, Alan Gregory and Kimberly L. Clayton in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 1, 47-54.

[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.

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