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A Love Supreme—Sermon by Minister Marvin K. White

A Love Supreme


Prayer

God, we know that the work of restorative justice is a spiritual work. It begins with us forgiving you at the same time that we ask you to forgive us. It is reciprocal. We have hurt each other. We must now, face to face, talk about our wounded selves and we must respond not only to one another’s confessions, or wishes for vindication, but to the source of our need to inflict pain, seek approval and be loved. In turn God, I ask that you listen to your people, hear what soul-shaping events have made us think that we deserve no better than to be in an abusive relationship with you. We will never let you be fully God until we acknowledge that our fear of you is unhealthy. And in us God you have nothing to fear. Restorative justice is the spiritual work of the body on the body before it is a work on and for the world. Use me today God to help break a cycle of violence so that we can begin a cycle of love.  

Amen.

Sermon

I think about love all of the time. I think about how I want my success to be measured not by the glass ceilings I have broken through but by the love ceilings I have ascended beyond. I want to talk to you about love like that…and run by you, some of my ideas about love.  

Like, “glass ceilings and love”, and work as the only place that requires your dedication and not your love. Your workplace requires you to jump through hoops, fight for fair wages and crash through that glass ceiling. But your loveplace, that you have been recruited for, promoted for, given a raise for, has a love ceiling and a love floor, it is the same distance beneath you as above you. It requires no force. Nobody to climb over. No deals with no devils. No overtime to prove you’re a team player. Love recruits and promotes from within.

I want to test some of my love theories out on you. In your mind or with your finger, draw a circle. Let’s call that circle “Love”. Now place yourself in that circle and whisper, “I love you.” Notice how no matter where you are standing in that circle, love bounces off the walls and finds its way back to you? It has too. Now imagine you and someone else inside the circle that you have drawn in your mind or in the air with your finger. Same love. Same circle. See yourself standing back to back with them in the circle. Imagine both of you saying, “I love you.” away from one another towards the love circumference. Notice how love is curvilinear? Notice how it bends over backwards to reach you? No matter where you are in it, as long as you are in it, you are its intended. 

See, you have to see yourself “in love”. Look and marvel at love’s capacity, its contraction and expansion. You have to know your Loveland, its boundaries, territory, reach, leaks. You have to know that when you place yourself, your potential or present life partner, your house, your block, your family, your neighborhood, your city, your state, and your country in that circle, then everybody is “IN LOVE” with you. And no one can love and hate at the same time.

Let’s try this one. Love is a lamp. If you want love to light you up, then pull the cord, turn it on. All this time we have been led to believe that we are in a love shortage and that we should be conserving our energy to love and THAT has left us in the dark. Despite the threat of a large love bill we should leave all our love lights on all the time! Now is not the time for a love crises. FLIP THE SWITCH!

How about this? Love is aware. Love is paying attention. Love knows that you have your recovery to deal with, some bills to catch up on, and some self-esteem issues to work out. The thing is, Love knows. Love is not an abandoned child. Love has not raised itself. Love is not mad at you for balancing your books or for taking that babysitting job with your PhD having self. Love’s promise, is that you will never return to an empty house. Love is not a latchkey kid raising itself in front of the TV with frozen dinners. Love is waiting for you to return. Love is not mad. Love appreciates that you are doing what is necessary to keep a roof over your heads. Love is in this with you. 

Then I thought, that We must begin to look at one another with a presumption of innocence. We must love one another as if it is not only possible, but likely and necessary. Love loves THE WHO that people say that are and not THE WHAT we need them to be.  Love begins when we see ourselves as a part of our own beauty standards. We must allow someone who looks like us, is oddly and magnificently beautiful like us, to be both the object of our affection and the intended target of our love. No more pretend, magazine, celebrity love. Our love vision has to include ourselves. 

Love is primal and Love’s primary purpose is to unlock and unleash the love lessons and mysteries that are in our DNA. Love is ancestral and honors the spiritual, neurological, familial, psychic and community lessons that have been passed on to us through blood, through sweat and through tears. Love always lures us “towards” and unites us “with” the justice and the divine. Love always points towards what we do have and not what we lack. Love moves us. Love is a movement. You cannot be stuck and in love.

Love matches our speed, tempo, rhythm and pace. Love is a partner dance and whether or not we have rhythm is beside the point. Love leads us all. Love recognizes that we are all instruments. Love plays us. Love sends forth music makers. Love is an ensemble. Love is a band that changes things. Love is how we participate in the great orchestration of life.  

Take note, Love is not a Whitney Houston song. I am not supposed to save all my love for you. Love is like milk. Love has to be used or love will go bad. Love can clabbor. Love is declaration, “Nobody alone. Ever. Nobody without. Ever. Our love is not salaried. No withholdings. No tax. No loopholes. No exemptions. Ever. Love means you get it all back. Love returns.” 

Then I started thinking that suffering, failure and hitting rock bottom does not make you appreciate love with more intensity. Love is not the reward for losing everything. Love is its own thing. It can as easily give itself to the wretched as it could to the rich. Same with success. Same with abundance. Same with insight. Same with innovation. Don’t check your love answer by the person who say they took the same love test as you and seemingly got all the questions right. Your love answer is your love answer. You can come up with another one but it’s always gon’ be yours. The answer to loves question is always, “All of Thee above.”

See, when we understand that whatever love limits we place on someone else exponentially limits the love possibilities for us then the converse, whatever hope in love we place on those who we don’t think deserve it, exponentially expands the love hope for ourselves. 

And finally beloved, I believe that the subject and matter of Christ is love, incarnational and available to all of humanity. Love uses Christ’s life and ministry as well as the historical genesis and sweep of Christianity to point to a contemporary application of what it means to be a Christian.   Love evidences the lingering divinity available to all. Love is revelation. Love is revolution. Love is hungry. Love is gathering. Love is being of service. Love is million meals a year. Love is ever-advancing. Love does not leave us. Love requires us to do the work of connecting the story of Christ to all contemporary struggles of God’s peoples. Love has to clean up, end, change, transform, free, overturn, break-down, or dismantle any system that seeks to oppress God’s people. All people are God’s people. All people are loved. We stall Christ’s mission by not participating fully in the restoration of joy and peace in the world. We slow down the advance by not clearing a social justice pathway through which Christ might join us. Christ does not like to step over bodies. We must do the work of making the world safe for Christ’s return. This is what love looks like. 

Me? I want to be known for my love. Not just the times that I got it right but the times that I fell into it, tripped over it, tried to lockit out, then let it back in.  I want people to trace me in their love lineage. My great-grandmother loved my grandmother. My grandmother loved my mother, then my mother loved me and now I love you. I want to be in your love line.  I want us to know that hate is the opposite of remembrance. Hate is the undoer. Love has no opposite. I cannot love you and forget you both.

So what happens now?

Love requires us to learn how to tell our story, truthfully and honestly, & tell it like our love life depended on it. Love needs space to be visible. Needs to be in community. Needs to be. Love becomes love when it is unleashed into the world. Love needs to run the streets, love needs to come through every entrance of Glide, love dwells in the tenderloin or does not dwell at all.   

So, in your mind or with your finger, draw a circle. Let’s call that circle “Love”. Now place yourself in that circle and whisper, “I love you.” Notice how no matter where you are standing in that circle, love bounces off the walls and finds its way back to you? It has too. 

Now imagine you and someone else inside the circle that you have drawn in your mind or in the air with your finger. Same love. Same circle.  See yourself standing back to back with them in the circle. Imagine both of you saying, “I love you.” away from one another towards the love circumference. Notice how love is curvilinear? Notice how it bends over backwards to reach you? No matter where you are in it, as long as you are in it, you are it’s intended.  

See, you have to see yourself “in love”. Look and marvel at love’s capacity, its contraction and expansion. Know your loveland, its boundaries, territory, reach, leaks. You have to know that when you place yourself, your potential or present life partner, your house, your block, your family, your neighborhood, your city, your state, and your country in that circle, then everybody is “in love” with you. 

And if we all draw a circle in our mind our with our finger in the air, and we place everybody in it, then we are all in love with one another and whoever says, “I love you”, whispers it, sings it, or releases it, sends it swirling every which way, makes it so that we all can hear it, feel it and become moved by it. 

Today beloved, I draw a circle. I call it “Love” and I see you all in it with me. I see your hopes, I see your dreams, I see your aspirations, I see what the God of your understanding has shown in your visions and I see what other people have told you about your greatness that you have yet to see in yourself, and I place myself in this circle with you all. I am in love with you all. We are the beloved community. 

Be in love with me? Please?

Amen.

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