May 9, 2021 “A Love Letter From God”
Dear readers: because I will be out of town this Sunday, I’d like to republish a sermon from May of 2018 based on John 15:9-17 titled –
“A Love Letter From God”
“If you have never known the power of God’s love, then maybe it’s because you have never asked to know it – I mean really asked, expecting an answer.” ~ Frederick Buechner
“It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ~ David Steidnl-Rast
“Well and good if all things change, O Lord God, provided I am rooted in You.” ~ St John of the Cross
I think we all might agree that one of the most brilliant minds that ever was belonged to one Albert Einstein. Although he was best known for being a theoretical physicist and winning the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics, Einstein had a human side that was not only blessed by his intelligence but was also colored by his understanding of humanity and of God. It was while reading through our gospel text today from John that I chanced across Einstein’s last letter to his daughter, Lieserl, that somehow makes God’s command to love a whole lot easier to swallow. I would like to share this with you now:
There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us. This universal force is LOVE. When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force. Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it. Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others. Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals. For love we live and die. Love is God and God is Love. This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will. To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation. If instead of E = mc2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits.
After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy…If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.
Perhaps we are not yet ready to make a bomb of love, a device powerful enough to entirely destroy the hate, selfishness and greed that devastate the planet.
However, each individual carries within them a small but powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released. When we learn to give and receive this universal energy, dear Lieserl, we will have affirmed that love conquers all, is able to transcend everything and anything, because love is the quintessence of life.
I deeply regret not having been able to express what is in my heart, which has quietly beaten for you all my life. Maybe it’s too late to apologize, but as time is relative, I need to tell you that I love you and thanks to you I have reached the ultimate answer! “.
I have to say, this letter fascinated me; and even more so once I realized that Einstein never really knew his daughter Lieserl since she had been born out of wedlock and was left with her mother’s parents as a baby. There are stories of Liesel being born with down syndrome and of dying as an infant from scarlet fever. We may never know. The only truth that matters here is the fact that through the undeniable love and longing for a daughter he never knew, this brilliant man came to the realization of what Jesus is speaking to us today in scripture: (vs. 9) As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. And likewise, (vs. 12) reads: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one but this: that someone lay down his life for his friends.
And so, this is our message for this, the 6th Sunday of the Eastertide season. It is a message that surpasses all others and continues to astound us: that God sent his love to the world in the form of Jesus Christ. To a world of brokenness, he sent a healer; to world of anxiety, he sent peace; to a world of sin, he sent salvation. It was the ultimate love letter from God. And what a better way to have us understand the heart of God than through the person and the spirit of Christ. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. A love letter from God: let us treasure it always, let us hold in our hearts, in our worship, and in our lives. Let us bring it out and read it every chance we get. Let us abide in the love of Christ that our joy may be full.
The funny thing is, something that took the smartest man alive a life time to figure out – this, the love of Christ, this commandment to love each other the way he loved us – we’ve known it all along. To abide – to be – in Christ as he abides in us; this is indeed what makes our joy complete.
Amen & Shalom