This was the text of the homily given in our worshipping community by Hugh Hollowell on July 24, 2011. The Scripture text was Rom. 8.31-39.
I was in Moore Square the other day, talking to a friend of mine – let’s call him Mike. He’s a chronic alcoholic, and was on a three day drunk. On the first day, Mike had run into a would-be evangelist, who wanted to tell him about Jesus.
Now, my friend knows Jesus, and tried to tell the street preacher that, but the street preacher would not hear it. He told my friend that because he was drunk, it was obvious that God had turned his back on him. He said that the reason Mike could not quit drinking was because he was under God’s curse, and that until he cried out to Jesus for salvation he was going to continue to be punished by God.
Personally, I think that’s a bunch of crap.
A guy I grew up with is in prison for a five year stretch – he tried to bribe a judge on a custody case. His brother was my brother’s best friend. He is in prison for life, without parole, for killing a guy in a drug deal that went bad.
Their father spent a fortune on attorneys for them both, visits them both in prison, writes them letters, prays for them. He is very realistic – he knows that they did what they were charged with, and while he hopes that they are becoming better people as a result of their incarceration, he isn’t counting on it.
He loves them because they are his sons, and nothing can make him not love them. He does not love them because they are good, or because they make him happy or because he gets something out of the relationship. He loves them because they are his children.
I know that not all of us have had relationships with our parents that were filled with that much love. I know a lot of us have had parents that rejected us, or that put us out or that don’t talk to us anymore.
But all of us know how a parent is supposed to act, right? I mean, I have never met anyone who says “If I have a kid, I plan on drinking too much, beating the crap out of him and then falling asleep in front of the TV.”
No, all of us imagine ourselves as parents who will love our children. Parents who would still love our children when they do horrible things, when they betray us, when they use us. Even when we cannot live up to that ideal, we know how it is supposed to be.
If we know how a parent is supposed to love their child, how can God love us any less? The passage today says that nothing – not hard times, not stress, not being arrested, not being threatened, not the government or the police department, not anything at all can separate us from the love of God.
Hear the good news I am saying here – You may have heard that God is angry at you. You may have heard that God is cursing you. You may have heard that God is trying to teach you a lesson.
God loves you. God is on your side. God is fighting for you, not against you. And there is nothing you can do – nothing at all, that can change that.by