Alright it's time for a love story. Not those cheesy Harlequin romance books kind of love story. A real love story. Not even like husband and wife love story, or even parent and child love story. This is bigger than all of those.
The Life Journal readings for today jumped to Song of Solomon, and you have to admit, some of that stuff is not for young eyes, but it's a love story nonetheless. Not only is it a love story, it is a divine love story. This is where we begin hearing just how in love with us God really is. It is amazing stuff. Unfortunately it doesn't get preached that often because a lot of folks think it's too raunchy. But...what kind of guy am I? That's right, an outside the box kind of guy. So, here we go.
Have you ever been truly loved? I mean the kind of love where you know the person sharing the affection would go to any means whatsever to be with you? It wouldn't matter what obstacles were in the way. It wouldn't matter the distance between you. It wouldn't even matter if you felt the same, you knew that this person loved you to your core? It happens, and when it does, it is absolutely beautiful.
Now, let me ask this...do you know someone who doesn't know that they are loved? I think we all do. My heart breaks for them, it really does. I can think of few things more tragic than someone not knowing they were loved. Now, let me ask you this...wouldn't you love to be the one that got to tell that person that someone really did love them? Wouldn't you love to be the one to tell them that they are not alone, even in those moments when they feel that the entire world is bearing down on them?
Now, let me ask you this...isn't it the church's responsibility to do just that? I mean, isn't that part of discipleship, and forming disciples? Don't we have a responsibility to let folks know how much they're loved regardless of the obstacles, distances, or even our own wants, that may threaten to get in the way? I think yes, but here's the problem.
Most churches are great at letting each other know they are loved. That's a good thing. If they were to step outside the doors and begin taking that message to where the people are who wouldn't otherwise hear about that love, that would be a great thing. Now, let me ask you this...wouldn't you love to be part of a church that did that? Not just on Friend Sunday, but every cotton picking day of the year? I think I would like that very much.
Solomon asks a question this morning: "Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday." If that is a question, here is the answer I have found in most churches. "We graze our flocks in our sanctuary on Sunday morning." Now, that's not a bad thing. Flocks have to graze. They have to be fed or they cannot make disciples for the transformation of the world, and we have opportunities during the week at First Church where that happens also. But what about the sheep in the midday sun? What are we doing for them?
Here's where I'm going with this. I've already started dropping hints about something that's going to happen Sunday at First Church. We are great at grazing our flock. We do that well. It's time now for us to start actively looking for the sheep finding no rest in the midday sun. But...that means what?....We have to get out in the midday sun to find them.
So the question facing me as a church leader is this: "How can I get folks out into the midday sun, looking for the sheep not finding any rest, without taking away from the grazing grounds of my flock?" I have finally found an answer and I'm going to be sharing it over the next few days.
So, you whom I love, it's time. It's time for us to actively begin seeking out the folks who might not know they are loved and letting them hear this love story for, what could be, the very first time. The first seed is planted, and Sunday I will begin casting the vision.