As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love.
We have all watched loving adults bend low or kneel down, making themselves small so they can be face-to-face with a child. Parents do this instinctively out of a desire to connect and be present to the child. Out of loving desire to relate to small ones, big people make themselves temporarily small.
Our Creator loves us in this way. Desiring to be face-to-face with us, longing to express love directly, seeking close relationship with us, God became small. This is the Christian story. God, coming to us as a baby, a child, a man. God coming to us in Jesus. The astonishing claim Jesus made was that if we have seen him, we have seen the Father. To encounter Jesus is to encounter the One who made and loves us all.
Jesus came to show us the love of the Father. But Jesus was not well received. People did not expect to see such love. Instead, they expected to see what we often expect to see in God. Rigidity. Harshness. Stern enforcement of the rules. Judgement. Distance. Rejection. Exclusion. Instead, in Jesus, they encountered radical love.
Jesus embodied God’s incredible love—love that included the outcast, that honored women, that respected and blessed children, that embraced enemies, that touched and healed people with contagious diseases, that extended to prostitutes, that confronted abusive religious leaders, that valued loving relationships over rigid rule keeping, that made “heretics” the heros of his stories, that told stories of God-the-waiting-Father who runs like a servant to welcome us home and who sweeps like a woman to unearth us–her lost treasure.
This was a love that the religious powers could not tolerate. And so they plotted to kill Jesus. One way of seeing the story of Jesus’ death, is that God’s radical love was rejected by the religious authorities and by the people themselves. The love of God in Jesus which confronted the pride, hatred, greed and corruption of power of his day, simply by shining in the darkness, was put to death.
But another telling of this story is that in turning himself over to the powers of darkness that day, Jesus took this earth-shaking, heaven-rending love one step further. This Love gave itself completely. The Love of God in Jesus did not fight the power of violence with greater violence, but instead undid it with the one true Power in the universe. The power of darkness was undone by the Power of God’s Love. In Jesus’ death and resurrection we witness the powers of hate and evil being rendered powerless. We see that the Power of Love is what stands in the end. The Power of Love is always greater than the power of hatred and evil. The Light always overcomes the dark.
Prayer is God loving us with a love we struggle to comprehend and trust. When we pray we are allowing ourselves to be reshaped by a love that is beyond our wildest imaginations.
Prayer is being loved by God, with love that is respectful, patient, kind, faithful, full of hope, tender, intimate. And powerful! God’s love is unshakable, enduring, never failing. It is powerful enough to create, heal, restore and make new.
Prayer is encountering the love of God in Jesus.
Maker of heaven and earth,
You bowed low.
You made yourself small like a parent with a child.
You came so close.
You came face-to-face
You came and showed us a love so wild and strong
that it surpasses knowledge or comprehension.
I marvel at this mystery.
Open my heart, my life,
to this Love beyond my wildest dreams.
In a time of quiet, ask God to help you to experience the Love expressed to us in Jesus. Sit in silence for ten minutes or more, breathing in this love. Notice whatever comes to your awareness. Continue to ask God to allow you to encounter the love as expressed to us in Jesus as you go through your day.