â€œIn the part of town where you hit a red light you donâ€™t stopâ€
Yesterday morning at 9.30am, after having this Gospel message churning through me all week,Â I had the sermon all organised in my head and basically just had to get it on paper.
Then, on her baptismal anniversary Cathy put on a CD of love songs, and the first song I heard was Joshua Kadison singing â€œBeautiful in my eyesâ€.
A song that brings back a rush of memories and I knew that the sermon I had mentally prepared will have to wait for another day.
Beautiful in my eyes:
â€œThe world will turn and the seasons will change, and the lessons we will learn will be beautiful and strange. Weâ€™ll have our fell of tears. Our share of sight. My only prayer is that you realise, (that) youâ€™ll always be beautiful in my eyes.â€
A motherâ€™s love.
Early one morning I was walking down the street in North Adelaide to withdraw my last $20 from the ATM when near I saw a lady badly shaking and another body lying on the footpath and I immediately thought not today,Â not today I just cannot afford it.Â But as I got drew near, she didnâ€™t ask me for money, but quite the oppositeÂ she was aware of peopleâ€™s judgements-like mine. So as she leant against the wall and her arm stopped shaking I saw a young lady,Â well dressed talking to her son dressed in his school uniform,Â tired and lying on the footpath while they waited for the bus.While I withdrew my money I heard their conversation and it nearly brought tears to my eyes.
This mother with a handicapÂ talking to her tired son lying on the pavement in his school clothsÂ and their love for each other, no judgement of each other- Just love.
A motherâ€™s love.
Five or so years ago, my mum left a note on the wallet of a wayward sinner who had been called to study the Word of God at the Lutheran Seminary.
Itâ€™s a little worn now but I know the words well enough: â€œNothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I clingâ€.
Two weeks later, on the 11th of January 1996, two weeks before the start of my studies I heard the song I have mentioned.
It was the first song I heard after receiving a phone call from my dad.
â€œSteve, itâ€™s overâ€ and the hysterical screaming of my mother in the back ground haunts me to this day.
Four years later, my mum buried her husband next to her son and today my mum will be sitting on her own in a little cemetery in the Adelaide hills,Â weeping by the headstones of two people taken tragically before their time.
Jesus has told us: â€œIf you obey my commands, you will remain in my loveâ€¦ and this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved youâ€
What have you just heard, law or Gospel?
â€œI command you, to love one another as I have loved youâ€ and letâ€™s not forget, that includes that â€œwe are to love our enemiesâ€.
I hear law, sure maybe on the odd moment of love happens-but as a person: this commandment has shown the darkness of my heart.
Today a wayward sinner stands up the front and is talking to you, fellow sinners about love.
What a joke. To do so it may help if I had a little bit of credibility in the subject
We hear law, the law that we can never fully adhere to, that crushes us-Â and thatâ€™s the way it must be because then we can hear the blessed gospel of our Lord and Saviour.
The subject of love.
We have all the credibility in the world because we do know love.
Not our imperfect love outwards, but the perfect love we receive.
Our credibility is in knowing our shortfalls, but receiving Christâ€™s love all the same.
Abiding in that love, when things donâ€™t seem so, but clinging to it-knowing that in Christ, we are given mercy-
knowing that before God, because of Christâ€™s love and action of dying for us-that when we pray in Jesus name to the Father-Â he sees us clothed in the righteousness of his son-sinless.
Yes, we can truly in full credibility talk of love.
â€œNothing in our hands we bring, simply to the cross we clingâ€.
Even that wonderful outlook is a result of Jesus â€˜action. Yes we cling to Jesus,
but only because he clings to us.
Our love is the same as our spiritual condition. Saint and sinner. Yes we are sinners, but in Christ are saints-warts and all.
Can we love each other like Jesus loves?
but in Jesus no matter how small a portion of love we can offer-he uses it in HIS love.
Late one night I was travelling home after leading a bible study. As I drove past mecca,Â being the small suburban Alberton oval-the home of the Port Adelaide Football clubÂ all was good in the world as I reflected how well the study went and how some 100 plus people have had their ashes spread on this oval that has seen so much joy.
As I turned the corner onto a large thorough-fare I was later to be reminded of Bruce Springsteen where he sings â€œin the part of town where when you hit a red light you donâ€™t stopâ€.
Well I did stopÂ and the next minute the door opened and someone jumped into my car screaming â€œdrive, driveâ€. Well what do you do? You drive.
When the dust had settled and as I looked across at this young lady,Â she apologised and told me that while working the streets she had become fearful with a customer and had to flee and now wished to go home and asked if I could give her a lift.
What can you do, so I turned around and drove her home.
On the way she talked openly about herself, how her mum was home looking after her darling son, and of her dreams for him and herself.
But while she was doing this, all I could think about was that my car was running on empty and there was a high probability that I would be stuck in this neck of the woods in the middle of the night with no money and no way to contact anyone.
Still thinking this, we arrived at her house she looked me in the eyes and said â€œGod Bless Youâ€.
A pastoral student gives a lady a lift home-not out of love,Â but because there was no option. To a lady that is using the only asset she has available to give her child a chance of his dreams-and only one of the two seeâ€™s Christ in this. Yes Jesus uses our imperfect love.
The bible tells us that people have been visited by angels without being aware.
I was visited by an angel, not one without sin and not one with wings. But an angel none the less, because those three words at that time: â€œGod Bless Youâ€ touched me as if they were said by Christ himself.
Mothers, fathers you and me-Sinners yet saints in Christ. Imperfect in love, yet perfect in Christ.
Mothers-angels no, but in Christ-yes angels-but without the wings.
The song I mentioned: â€œBeautiful in my eyesâ€, while it brings back a flood of memories, I also hear it differently.
I am going to play it and I ask you think of it as I always have, of our love towards each other-but also, when you listen to the words-think of it as Jesus saying these words to your children and loved ones, to all the families that will visit cemeteries today, to people judged by society but not by Jesus and to young mothers plying their dangerous trade on dark streets, and to you.
The song: Beautiful in my eyes by Joshua Kadison is played.