Tre-Ore Service April 19, 2019
Rev. John R. Larson
Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
(Preached at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Centennial, Colorado)
I serve just down the road at Ascension in Littleton. One of the folks who is on our staff is Jenna. She is in charge of the ministry we provide to Young Adults. Recently Jenna told a story about a few years ago, as a newly married wife.
Jenna and Michael, her husband, were going to be gone for a number of hours one afternoon and she wanted to have supper ready when they got back to their apartment. She cut up the potatoes, added the other ingredients to make potato soup, and turned it on. She had done this before and it had not turned out every well. She had put the crock-pot on high and she had burned the meal. She had learned her lesson, so this time she put the crock-pot on low and knew that the meal would be better than before.
When they got home, they were both hungry and Michael opened the lid, got his bowl out and filled it up. He took a few bites and Jenna wanted to know, “How is it?” “Oh, good!! I like it.” He was all smiles!! So Jenna got a bowl for herself. But it wasn’t just a second after taking the first bite that she burst into tears. “I’m the worst cook in the world.” The potatoes weren’t done. They were hard. You had to swallow twice to get them down.
Though there was no doubt that Michael loved her, this proved it. His eating the uneatable and telling her it was a good meal has always been a precious language of love to her.
Dr. Gary Chapman has authored a book that many married couples find helpful. It is titled The Five Love Languages. The five are:
Words of Affirmation (Verbally affirming your partner for the good things he or she does.)
Quality Time (Giving your partner undivided attention)
Receiving Gifts (Presenting a gift to your partner that says, “I was thinking about you.”)
Acts of Service (Doing something for your partner that is meaningful to him or her)
Physical Touch (Kissing, embracing, holding hands, making love)
Love languages are important. Especially on Good Friday. Here is a language of love – sorrow, grief, brokenness, repentance. One of the final preachers for today are going to give some thought to verse 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” David, the writer of this psalm, and its partner, Psalm 32 says, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Verse 5)
Here’s a love language – truth. Honesty. Coming clean. Too many times, too often we can say to God – “God, I don’t want you, I’m not going to follow your ways, I will live life without your presence.” There is no love there. But when we come to Him, humbly, honestly, with a true heart, we have shared a love language with our God. Verse 8 of our reading, “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.”
But there is a greater love language than you telling God how much you need Him. The greater language is God telling you that He wants you to know His works that bring His salvation.
Love is costly. Love demands much from you. Love will mean that you will be inconvenienced for another. Love demands sacrifice. Love places another, or others, before you. When the Bible says that “God so loved the world…” He knew about the cost of love. Jesus has shown God’s love for us. Jesus is God’s language of deep love.
“This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10) “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (I Peter 1:18-19)
Love language. I mean not just some cute words that make us feel better for a time, not just a promise that never is truly considered, but I’m talking about real love – that is what today is. If you ever have to convince yourself that you are truly loved by God, or if you need to convince another who is struggling with their place in God’s design, then this is the day to be assured. Isaiah 53, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Verse 5)
The Old Testament picture of redemption and forgiveness is given in our text. “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Verse 7) Hyssop is a plant that holds liquids well. So the Jewish people, on the night of the Passover, were to take the blood of a lamb and put it in a bowl and taking the stalk of the hyssop plant, dip it in the blood and put it the top and the sides of the doorframe. The blood of the lamb covering the door of that house would prevent the angel of death from coming to their house. The angel of death passed over the house. They were saved. Love’s language was heard and believed and appreciated. “Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.”
Love language. Our sorrow, our repentance, our confession of need is all a language of love that God needs to hear. It is like the tax collector in Luke 18, “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” (Verse 13)
Love language. God’s action in Jesus. Blood. Suffering. Forgiveness. “Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.”
Love language. Taking God at His word. Trusting that on this day all your sins were covered by Jesus. Your debt was erased, blotted out, forgiven, forgotten. Trust that that day changes this day. April 19, 2019 is the day in our life when God’s love language has been heard, received, believed and trusted. During these days listen to God’s deep, deep love for you. Amen!!