The Words of the Reese Family

Love is the Key

Andre Reese
April 19, 2009
Ohio Family Church

Jesus said: “A new commandment I give to you: that you love one another as I have loved you,” thereby fulfilling the law, thereby fulfilling the fundamental need found in the other person and yourself. The need of all human beings is to know that we are liked, loved, and appreciated. Love one another.

We, as human beings, have many needs in life. We humans have fundamental needs that have to be met in order for us to survive. We have these very basic needs of air, water, food, and shelter. But I would like to suggest to you this morning that we have another fundamental need: the need to experience love, God’s love, the need to receive love and the need to give love. The need is for the quality of love, God’s love. We all have a need to experience genuine love; that is, to receive love, and to give love. And it is always in that sequence: to first receive love and then to give me.

You can’t give you what you first haven’t received… This need to experience love, to receive and give love, is as necessary as water, air, food and shelter. You can’t survive as a human being without water, air, food and shelter. Likewise, we as human beings cannot survive nor reach our full potential unless we experience love, to give and receive love. Oh yes, you can survive with less. You can survive on a lot less and still be human. You can survive having a minimum diet and having your minimum physiological needs met. You can meet your minimum social needs, your minimum sexual needs, your minimum work needs. You can survive on the minimum but you will never reach your full potential as a human being unless you experience love, God’s love, receiving love and giving love.

Let me explain. For an example: if you have an apple tree at your house and all it does is produce beautiful apple blossoms, is that tree fulfilling its full potential? Obviously, not. The apple blossoms smell good, but is the tree meeting its full potential? No. Second example: let’s say that you have a tomato plant and this beautiful tomato plant grows bushier and bushier, thicker and thicker, leafier and leafier, greener and greener, and this plant grows to be the bushiest, leafiest, greenest plant that you have ever seen, but it doesn’t produce any tomatoes. Would you say that this particular tomato plant was fulfilling its full potential? Obviously not. How about a meadowlark? Let’s say that you see a meadowlark fly and do all kinds of acrobatic tricks in the air and fly the highest that a bird can fly, but the meadowlark never sings.

Would the meadowlark be realizing its full potential? Of course not. Just as the meadowlark was designed by God to sing beautiful songs and just as the apple tree was designed by God to make luscious, sumptuous apples and just as the tomato plant was designed by God to produce big red tomatoes, so you and I have also been designed by God to love. To experience love. To receive and give love. That is our God given design. That is the way that God made us. We are made in the image of God; we are like God; and we have been designed to love. And it is only then that we reach our full potential as human beings. Only when we experience love, giving and receiving love, do we become fully human. I mean, a tomato plant without tomatoes? How ridiculous. An apple tree without apples? How ridiculous. A meadowlark without singing? How ridiculous. A human being without love, divine love, experiencing love, receiving and giving love? How ridiculous. You can settle for less in your life, but your life won’t be very good nor very fulfilling. You would be like apple trees with only blossoms and not apples, a tomato plant with only leaves and not tomatoes, a meadowlark who only flies and never sings. God has made you to love, and only in loving, experiencing love, receiving and giving love, that you find your true self, your true potential and true humanity.

Well, what is this love? Well, love is not easy to define. I mean, can you capture the waves of an ocean in a fishing net? No. Can you capture a beautiful butterfly by dissecting its wings and beauty? No. Can you capture love by writing a poem about it? Shakespeare wrote one hundred and fifty sonnets trying to capture love and after one hundred and fifty sonnets later, he could not define it. There are some things in life that are so mysterious and so big that you cannot capture them even in words, and that is the way love it. Love is so big. Love is so mysterious that you cannot capture it in words, but when you see it, you know it… I see it all around me every day of the week. I see it in the grief of a father, there at the bedside of his dead wife whom he loved for sixty five years, and you could literally see the love inside him and between them. I see love all the time. I saw love in Françoise Takanaka as she spoke with a refugee family at church last Sunday. I see love in Garrun Abrahams as he invests himself in the youth ministry, I often see him give up his personal time for one of his kids.

I see it all the time. I still cannot define it nor have any of the poets of life, but I know it when I see it. That is the way love is: fleeting, mysterious, incomprehensible, elusive, when you try to define it, but love is a reality, a fact of life, a way of life. To experience love, to receive and to give love, is to have Gods love inside of you. Where you say, I will forgive you no matter what. I will love you no matter what. I will forgive you no matter what. I will be gentle with you no matter what. I will be with you no matter what.

God always accepts people just the way they are, but he never leaves people just the way they are, because he loves them. God always makes us better. God never leaves us just the way we are. He always makes us better. Or to put it another way, God sees beneath the soil to the seeds of human possibility. Or, God sees inside the seeds to the possibility of what we can become.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Roman Catholic theologian, once wrote: “Sometimes after the mastery of the winds and the waves and the tides; after the mastery of the sun and the sea and the laws of gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And when we harness the energies of love, for the second time in human history, we shall discover fire.” … What if we harnessed atomic fusion?

Wow! But what if we harnessed the energies of love? The world would then be transformed. This quality of love that I am talking about is not some impossible ideal. It is not some form of idealistic behavior that is confined to Disneyland, fantasy land and fairy land. I see it in the lives of people in our Unification Community. Now, I hate to admit it, but I have to admit it that I do not see any ideal families today. I see no ideal husbands, no ideal wives, no ideal children, no ideal pastors. I see no ideal anyone. Well, maybe if we follow In Jin Nim's definition of Ideal -- I DEAL with my wife, I DEAL with my husband, I DEAL with my family...

What I see here today is a bunch of real people with real struggles with real problems. In this real congregation, I see real loved lived out. I know it when I see it. I see this quality of love in so many of you and this quality of love says: I will love you no matter what, I will forgive you no matter what, I will take care of you no matter what. My life is yours. I see that again and again in this congregation. This love is based on a commitment to God to build a Blessed Central Family and a community and this is an inspiration and hope for God.

Do you know the length of longest sermon that was ever preached? The Guinness Book of World Records keeps records of everything, including for the length of the longest sermon ever preached. How long was that sermon? 60 hours and 31 minutes, by a Unitarian preacher.

But there is another world record. What was the shortest sermon ever preached? It was by Rev. John Albrecht, an Episcopalian priest, from Lake Orion, Michigan, and he spoke the shortest sermon ever given on record. He uttered one word, "Love," and sat down. That was it. No more. Some parishioners stated that it was the best sermon he ever gave.

What would ever happen if you personally discovered and harnessed, not power of the wind and the waves or the sun and the seas, but you harnessed the power of love in your life. You, for a second time, would discover, fire. 

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