What Love Looks Like 
Sunday, December 24, 2006, 08:00 PM - Sermon
Philippians 1:3-11
Tonight we know what love looks like. Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus surround by animals, angels, shepherds, and the magi. It would look strange today. Having a baby surrounded by animals? With strangers gathered around? No bed for his head, no medical personnel? That isn't the way love looks today. We have vitamins and exercise and classes. We have hospitals, and baby monitors, video cameras, cell phones, doctors, nurses, and social workers. Although afterwards with all the equipment, diaper bag, bottles, car seat, chair, we do sometimes feel loaded down like a wiseman's camel.

The look of love will change as the baby grows. From constant care to allowing tottering steps, from the house to the yard, to the preschool, to school. The look of love will change. A crib that was appropriate and necessary for a baby looks like a cage for pre-schooler and a jail to a teenager. Sitting up with a crying child that will not leave you alone becomes sitting up in a silent house waiting for noise of the teen-ager to coming home.

The love of the church changes too. Sunday School for the last 100 years of the 2,000 years of the church was a way to love children. Now pre-school and day care, rare a hundred years ago when Sunday School began to boom are nearly standard from birth. Has what love looks like changed? To working parents does love look like a loving place 5 days a week instead of one?

People my age were looking to change the world. They were on a journey to find themselves, but they did it in groups. The church was there with them in the struggle for social movements and civil rights. That is what loved looked like to them.

For some it seems all the rules are gone. The great Christiandom where church and state were often assumed to be the same has gone away. So for some love looks like a church full of rules and certainty in a world where everything is in flux.

Connection and emotion is lost in mobile urban settings when television gobbles up time that was spent with family and friends, clubs and groups. Relationships have narrowed down to me thee and the TV; for some love looks like emotional festivals where hearts are tended with moving music and emotional messages tug on heart strings seldom played.

What does love look like now? There is is a site for people to decide 43 things they want to do with their life. They put them into the computer and find other people who have the same goal. They post their efforts, failures and successes. They are running the top new year resolutions now. What do you think “Find a Church” was ranked? Last week it was number 7, it has slipped to number 11 now. What does love look like to these folks without a church? Listen to these seekers:

EmpressHadItUpToHere —The best way I have found to do this is to trust God. Just go, every Sunday, to a church in your town until you feel like you've found home. This is easy if you have a dozen churches in town. It's very hard if you live in a town with thousands of churches. Start close to home, and work your way outward until you find what you need.

The most common way to do this is to research churches or beliefs until you find one that matches you. This is not the best way, IMO, because you can get bogged down in researching and every religion has a spectrum of beliefs. IF you want to go this route, take the Belief-O-Matic Quiz. It'll give you a general idea.

verocca says a week ago — Found A Church, Lost My Faith Not worth it! Seeking a church, I could not feel Jesus in any of them. Each place I went to felt empty, hollow. When I finally stuck with a place for a while, I stayed for a year hoping that Jesus would eventually reveal himself to me… it just didn't happen.

CounterfeitReBelle — I need to do this. I just don't look forward to ‘trying' them all out. Since leaving a church over two years ago after a change in leadership, I haven't looked back. While I don't think it's essential, I think being together with believers help to encourage and edify each other is beneficial on every level. Too bad, there are just as many fakes in the church as there are in the world.

logta65 — Well, I guess I found it. I'm going to keep going to this little church. It's not all I was looking for but I think this is part of my perfectionism problem. I idealize things so much that whenever I'm in front of something, I always look for the flaws therefore making my search unending. I guess I'm going to start going with something small instead of waiting for the big ship to come in. I'll keep going to this one and see where God leads me.

daydreamingmom —- Well, we went. I think it helped that we set the clocks back. Since we gained an hour it was nice not to have to rush this morning.
We did like the church, enough that we will visit again. They have children's chapel that Nate is old enough for, but Carrie isn't. So, for now they did fine in the nursery.

They had communion and after much thought we decided to participate. I went and got the boys from the nursery so they could go up to the altar with us for a blessing. So, went up and knelt…the pastor came by with the “bread” and Nate (age 4) asked him “Hey what is that?” I told him it was bread. But, he didn't want to hear from me, so he repeated the question a little louder. The pastor looked over at him and said, “I'll tell you later.” He seemed OK with that. Then the woman with the wine came ‘round…Yes, once again he asks, “What's that?” She says, “Wine”. And Nate says (in a volume not church appropriate), “But, I don't like wine”.

After the service they came up to me and said I had a very curious boy. We laughed about it. The woman jokingly asked me how he would know he doesn't like wine. Hmmm…because he snuck a sip of mine. I was very embarrassed. But it was funny. And after all that there were several people that invited us back. My children running around wide open screaming did not earn me any sideways looks that questioned what kind of mom I am. I think we'll go back.

What does love look like? Sometimes a little baby, sometimes moral direction in a world without a compass, sometimes a safe place for a child on workdays, sometimes something small, sometimes a word of encouragement, sometimes a welcome of a wild child and his embarrassed parent. We look for love tonight in the manager and every night in the needs and hopes of others.

Copyright (c) 2006. Advanced permission is given for non-profit, for-prophet use of the above at no charge as long as it is reproduced unedited with notices and copyright intact. Written copies are provided after they are preached as a courtesy for the personal, private, appreciative use of the congregation of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, their families and friends to support the ministry of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church and its pastor the Rev. J. Christy Ramsey. Join us Sundays! 8:15 Traditional Worship and 10:15 Blended. Mingle in our Gathering Room between services and take advantage of Christian Education opportunities.

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