Isaiah 11: 1-9

Advent 2A

December 8, 2019

Lincoln Street UMC, Portland, Oregon

Elizabeth Winslea

Whatever the difference is . . .

Paterson muses over the difference the smile of his son makes in the trajectory of his life. The love he experiences in that moment shared on the bed - it transports him into a place of joy and wonder. And he muses on how he has found himself through the love of his small child - his son who is lighting the way forward for him.

Sometimes that is the difference. The difference that fills us with a sense of purpose, a sense of security, a sense of right-ness with the world. That humming that fills us from the center of our cells. The expression of love - so sincere and so dear. Sometimes that is the difference.

And when we hear the promises of Isaiah 11, we hear that love embodied. The love God has for all people - the love that will empower everyone with counsel and strength, knowledge and reverence. The love that will empower everyone to treat poor people with fairness, strike down tyrants, and gird themselves in justice. The love that will see enemies - cow and bear, lion and ox, infant and cobra - live in harmony.

Sometimes the gift of love is what makes the difference.

Love works on expansion. As love from God expands our hearts - we are buoyed and energized, and then joy fills out the meaning of our days. Sometimes that is all the difference it takes. To spring new life out of an old root. To find new direction - the true path forward, as Paterson writes.

Sometimes it really is just about love. Growing, sharing, expanding love.

And so friends, that is why this message is at the heart of the Christian tradition. Because of our discipline of noticing and practicing love, we don’t have to ask what the difference is. We know.

We know it makes a difference to practice love even when we don’t feel like it. To practice love even with those we really feel we can’t.

We know it makes a difference to accept love even when we don’t feel we deserve it. To accept love even from those whom we wonder if we can stand being near.

Because this practice of love is the fire and the strength to our expression of God in the world. And it makes a difference - people find their way forward, people find acceptance, people find a softer way to work with one another and themselves.

Sometimes - all the time - it really is about love. To fill the well, grease the wheel, stoke the fire, plant the seed. It is all about love - that great, expansive gift that brings us meaning and joy. Amen.

This sermon was written by Elizabeth Winslea and delivered on December 8, 2019 at Lincoln Street United Methodist Church. It is published here with the permission of the author. Please link back to this post and credit the author if you reprint or use any portion of it.