This sermon was preached at the Rocky Mountain District in Denver for their 50th Convention
S-1500 TS/3B 6/05/2015 Hymns: (O) #525; (S) # 543; LS. #507; #535; #700; #537 (C) #837
Texts: Psalm 103:1-12; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; John 3:14-21
Theme: “Love is A Gospel Diamond” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Rocky Mountain District Convention, Denver, CO. Thursday of Holy Trinity week
IN NOMINE IESU
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for this blessed occasion is the text chosen for your Convention from St. Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
President Andersen, Colleagues in the proclamation of the Gospel, delegates, family and friends, I bring you greetings from President Harrison and your church body Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). The LCMS’s mission Statement reads like this: “In grateful response to God’s grace and empowered by the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacraments, the mission of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and the world.”
Love is what it is all about. You have heard the statement: “Love makes the world go around.” And it is absolutely true. Without love we have nothing. Without love our world is empty. Without love we would be without hope.
The Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit catalogues for us what love is, does and doesn’t do. He concludes this chapter by saying: “…but the greatest of these is LOVE!”
For this reason, I have titled the sermon for the special gathering of God’s people of the Rocky Mountain District “Love is a Diamond Gospel” PAUSE.
Some of you know that I grew up in Haifa, Israel. About 20 miles south of my home is the town of Netanya which has a diamond factory. Israel doesn’t mine diamonds, but it has factories where they cut, polish and set them in stones and ship them all over the world.
If you were to stop at this diamond factory the workers would be delighted to sell you a pretty diamond. As they do they will explain to you about the 4C’s of diamond grading. They are:
The price of the diamond is dependent on these qualities. The bigger the carat the higher the price. Some of you know how expensive diamonds are especially if you have given it a gift to the one you love. That is why some men go broke as they purchase an engagement ring.
Diamond is a rare jewel that stands above the rest. Did you know that before a diamond reaches a woman’s hand, it will probably touch at least four continents and the lives of hundreds of people? The expertise of many skilled and experienced craftsmen is necessary in the complicated process of extracting and finishing a diamond.
Furthermore once a diamond goes through this process not one is exactly the same. Each diamond has its own individual characteristics that make it completely unique in its own right. These slight differences between each stone mixed with the rarity of gem quality stones available make every diamond special.
So, too, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For the love of Christ is a Gospel diamond. It is touchable and tangible. It is memorable and monumental. It is notable and noticeable. PAUSE.
In 1988 I led a tour to the Holy Land. One of the (elderly) ladies that joined me on the trip was a survivor of a tornado that had struck her town and home. The only thing she was able to grab before she lost all of her belongings was her passport and cashier’s checks.
She needed lots of help because she was unable to walk. Two kind hearted men—a pastor and his layman said, “Pastor Nour, you take care of the other travelers and we will take care of her.” These men were living from the gospel! These men were living deeply from the story of God’s great love in Christ for them that they demonstrated the gospel diamond on the 11 day journey. They pushed, pulled and carried her wheelchair to every location. She never missed any sight or anything we participated in. That is love in action.
However, in our sinful flesh we do not always show love to those around us. We don’t love our spouses the way we should. We don’t show love to those who are above us. We speak evil of others. We are jealous of others. We envy others. We claw, hurt and shame others. We don’t often respect our pastors, and at times have roast pastor in the afternoon. The pastor is long winded, he is monotone or boring. And, we, pastors don’t always show care and love to those we serve. Love is not easy for us to demonstrate.
Yet, when you walk through the corridors of Holy Scriptures you see God who is love touching many with His loving, compassionate and pierced hands. In 1 Kings 19, Jesus (The Angel of the Lord) touches Elijah and feeds him so that Elijah travels on this meal for 40 days. All because of the loving touch.
We see the same in the New Testament. Jesus touches the blind; the demon possessed, the lame the lepers and even the dead are restored. Through the gracious hands of Jesus—love is manifested in the Gospel diamond.
That is why the Sacred Meal which we will soon receive is the Gospel diamond. In that LOVE meal Jesus touches us and fills us with His love. Here He both feeds and forgives and all from His pierced side and hands and feet. Jesus is truly, actually present with us. He is not a picture, but He Himself is present… present to touch us and feed us, to forgive us and give us strength for the journey that is ours… that is yours! This love meal is more costly and precious than any diamond you or I, or all of us together could buy—it cost the Lord, our Bridegroom His life-blood as the ransom for His Bride-the Church. He paid for her through His suffering, death and glorious resurrection. Therein lies the Gospel diamond—In Jesus our Savior and God. PAUSE.
Some say, “Love is just a word until someone comes and gives it meaning!” How right they are. Someone did come. He didn’t come from four different continents but from the glories of heaven to earth—the Word made flesh and gave meaning to our lives—that we are precious in His sight; That we are His SEGOULA—His TREASURED POSSESIONS.
To be sure, love is a Gospel diamond because there is power in that Word. Pastor Paul understood this and that is why he highlighted that these three remain: “faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Love is what it’s all about. Christ’s Love, His Agape Love. Yes the greatest of these is love… The love of Christ: in our hearts, in our heads, and thankfully, in our homes and in this family we know as the Lutheran Church, here in the grand Rocky Mountains.
Yes, it is this Agape Love which He has lavished upon us that now reflects like light off a diamond, off that Diamond Love, reflecting and refracting His heart and His finished work into the darkest corners of the darkest hearts – all so that others may indeed know this Jesus who is Love. We are called, my brothers and sisters in Christ to be His own, and in that we reflect His love to others. What a privilege! What an honor! What a high calling!
Diamonds can be breath-taking. When I see a beautiful diamond sparkling and the light dancing on it and through producing colors and patterns it takes my breath away. So when I see Jesus in action through you, and the light of the Holy Spirit and the glory of God dancing and through you, when I see the church at worship in adoration and praise of the One true and living God in Jesus Christ and brothers and sisters agreeing in faith and joining in prayer, that Gospel diamond is breath-takingly beautiful and it takes my breath away. PAUSE.
Beloved saints in Christ, remember earlier I said that there 4C’s for diamond grading? Color, Cut, Clarity and, Carat. But there are also 4C’s in the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
Cross, Care, Compassion and Communion.
Today, by the grace of God, as we gather to begin the Rocky Mountain District Convention, may the Holy Spirit help us to celebrate this Gospel diamond! Surely now He has called each of us by His four “C’s” by His Cross, and in His Care, through His Compassion, such that as we share Communion with Him and with one another, others too will see His great love.
20 Miles S. of my house in Israel is the town of Netanya. Netanya, means “God gave.” He certainly did. He gave us love found in an infant child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. He gave us love on Calvary’s cross in His crucified only-begotten Son. And through that crucified Son, now risen from the dead as proven by an empty tomb, He gave us forgiveness of all our sins and eternal life in His beloved Name —Jesus.
Therefore, may we with grateful hearts give thanks to the One who loved us from before the foundation of the world and granted us this Gospel diamond to guide us the Bride of Christ to our eternal home with Him our Bridegroom forever and ever. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DOE GLORIA