The Great and Sacred Romance

 Speaker: M.Noorhoff

In past sermons I have spoken on the connection between the natural and the supernatural. It was about a year ago that we looked at Christmas from a supernatural perspective through Revelation 12@and as we approach this wonderful season of the celebration of our Lords arrival, His incarnation in this world as a babe, the lamb of God, who would live among us teaching, healing, and living a sinless unblemished life to be sacrificed for us. The angels sang out, the heavens echoed announcing His Birth. The plan was now reaching its conclusion. The first step of the final victory was taken.

   How I could go on? How the wonder of the cosmic reconciliation fills my heart and I could sing along with the angels. For I know that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that All who believed in Him would be saved.

God so loved the World

God so loved man

God so loved me

God so loved you that he sent his only son so that you may be saved.

God so loved us. Today we are going to look further into this great and sacred romance. We touched on it earlier this year when we looked at the Jewish customs of marriage and how the bible speaks of us, we Christians, the body of Christ. The love we have for Him and the love he has for us is a romantic one. If it isnft it should be. He Chose us. He brought us to His father. The bride-price was His death,  His Blood. He promises us@the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He prepares a room for us in his fatherfs home.

  At first when I came to Japan I always found the idea of couples dealing the idea of couples dating on Christmas Eve was odd, after all Christmas was for family. That is how I was brought up and after all I am from a gChristianh country. But now my thinking has changed. Maybe it is my age and I have gotten more romantic as I got older. Or maybe I have just given into the true romantic that lies inside me and all of us despite our best efforts to hide it away. Now I think that the way it is done here is more right than wrong, Christmas should be, no, Christmas is the most romantic event in History. That is to say the incarnation of Christ is part of the great Romance, a pivotal part, the romance that all other romance is simply a pale reflection of. And there needs to be even more romance in this season, We need to bring more romance into this season. Yes the young have it right we must celebrate this season with romance and that is exactly what I hope to do. I hope to tell you, give you a glimpse of this Great Romance that started at the start of time even before the earth was formed  

Ephesians as written in gThe Messageh translation

Long before he laid down the Earths foundation, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. He wanted us to enter into this celebration of His lavish gift giving by the hand of His beloved Sonc Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living

This is the beginning of the story, not the fall, for we had to have somewhere to fall from and obviously it must have been a great fall. The great and sacred romance begins gin the beginning not as it is found in Genesis but as it is found in the Gospel of John.

In the beginning was the word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Many wrongly believe that the story starts only with God as in God the father. But from the furthest moments back there was father son Holy Spirit, the Trinity, Relationship, intimacy, and romance beyond our wildest imagination. We long for these things because we were born in the image of this relationship for, in the relationship of the Trinity.

 For God is Love

Buecher reminds us

gGod does not need the creation in order to have something to love because within Himself love happensh

 But love, true love is in its very nature something that is not selfish and so wishes to grow and spread. This is why we so strongly wish to share love when we feel love. When we fall in love we want to tell the world. When we marry we naturally out of love want to have children so that love may increase.

And so it is with God:

Jesus says gI want those you gave me to be with me where I am I want them to be, one heart and mind with us. John 17

Overflowing with generosity that comes from the abundance of real love, he creates us to share in the joy of heroic intimacy. One early mystic said We were created out of the joyful laughter of the Trinity.

 Perhaps this is one of the reasons we gather at this time of year. Perhaps we are to gather in love and we wish to spread the love and share it. Where I am I want them to be, one heart one mind. We pray that others may come to our place of joy. Or perhaps this is just the silly thoughts of and old romantic.

  Surely God is the oldest and biggest romantic of us all. He is the ageless romancer and we are the object of His romance. He loved us before he created us. He created an Earth designed to woo our hearts and it still does. We still deep inside us feel the wooing when we look at the world He created not the one we created. He let us sit in the garden of Eden in our minds feeling his love, seeing his gift all around us. So many are in such a hurry to get to the fall of man, when sin entered. For now lets look at the beauty, Fuji, Yellowstone, the Alps, passion fruit, grapes, horses, tigers, rainbows and sunrises. Let us soak in his love song

The morning stars sing together and all the angels shouted for joy

All designed to capture our hearts, to give us pleasure, to woo, and court us. He hands it all over he give it all to us. His love for us is foolish; his love for us is wild. In His love he gives us freedom. For without freedom no true romance can occur.

Phillip Yancey wrote of this love

Power can do everything but the most important thing: it cannot control love.. In a concentration camp the guards posses almost unlimited power. By applying force, they can make you renounce your god, curse your family, work without pay, eat human excrement, kill and bury your closest friend or even your mother. All this is within their power. Only one thing is not: they cannot force you to love them. This fact may help you understand why God sometimes seems shy to use his power. He created us to love Him but his most impressive displays of miracle- the kind we secretly long for- do nothing to foster that love

As Douglas John Hall put it gGods problem is not that God is not able to do certain things, Godfs problem is that he loves. Love complicates the life of God just as it sometimes complicates everyday life.

 Love is always a risk, but perhaps His was the riskiest of all

It was in this paradise, the honeymoon of God and mankind that it happened. We broke his heart. We turned away, we slept ran off for a secret rendezvous with a complete stranger. One that offered nothing, one that deep inside we knew we know we couldnft trust. On our wedding night we slept with the enemy. You can feel Godfs pain-Betrayed. He loved so much and still does but we betrayed his love. We did this as so many do because of insecurity. We gave up perfect love Paradise lost

But Godfs love is strong, He was not He is not willing to give up so easily. He loves us, he will forgive us, and he will never abandon us. He will seek us out; he will win us back. And thus starts Gods long pursuit of humanity throughout history and even onto today.

Let us now look at this pursuit throughout history through today scripture. Listen carefully and perhaps you will hear the quarrel between the lovers

 I long to be gracious to you. You are precious and honoured in my sight, because I love you. But you – come here, youc. Youc offspring of adulterers. You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill, forsaking me, you have uncovered your bed, you climbed into it wide. You have been false to me. Yet .. I will take delight in you, as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will I rejoices over you (Isaiah)

 I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved mec What fault did you find in me that you strayed so far from me? You are a swift she-camel running here and there, sniffing the wind in her craving- in her heat who can restrain her? Should I not punish them for this? Should I not avenge myself? I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness. What have I done to make you hate me so much (Jeremiah)

 I will answer you according to your idols (your false lovers) in order to recapture your heart.  (Ezekiel)

 Return to me and I will return to you. Yet you have said harsh things about me. You have said g Therefs no pay-off in this relationship. Its not worth loving Godh (Malachi)

 But the greatest event was to happen for hundred years after this last passage

Let us look ant how Kierkegaard tells the story in and allegory.

 Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a simple maiden. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kindness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist- no one dared resist him. But would she love him?

She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at his side? How could he know? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross the gulf between them. For it is only in love that unequal can be made equal.

 The king clothes himself as a beggar and renounces his throne to win her heart. Jesus leaves His throne in eternity to squeeze himself into our dimension not as a king , not as a lion but as a babe in swaddling clothe, a lamb, not born in a palace but in a cave that is used as a stable. Not in riches, but in poorness, not in peace but in a battle for his life. He gave up everything in the incarnation. All powerful God in the tiny body of a baby. Why?

Because it was the only way He could show us how much He loved us.

 For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son, himself incarnate.