In younger days, I thought my beloved Nancy resembled Sophia Loren. I was frequently told, mostly in my college days and into my 30s, that I resembled the Kennedys, particularly Teddy Kennedy. Aging has its way of modifying outward appearance. One of these days, the youthful exterior charms of the woman I love may fade. However, my love for her continues to grow deeper and more profound with each passing year. In my Easter sermon, I will share the origin of 19th century Irish poet Thomas Moore's "Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms". He composed the poem to assure his wife, who had become disfigured, of his love which was uninterrupted by her change in appearance.
Is this not the message of Easter?
The scriptures advise us that God knew and loved us before we were born. In the course of our lives, we become scarred by life experiences or by painful events or by our own behaviors and sin. We may become emotionally disfigured by the behaviors or careless words of others. Regardless of the depth of our wounds, deeper still is the love of God for us. The cross is the symbol for us of God's gift of love that erases all the scars and obliterates the sin. The empty tomb is the symbol for us of the fulfillment of God's promises of eternal life, eternal love. The message of Easter is that regardless of how far we wander from God or despite how we are affected by life experiences, God's love and mercy are as deep and available to us as on the day we were born. For prayer, I borrow from Moore's poetry and write as prose:
Loving God, through the wearying and scorching heat of the day, the sunflower still turns toward the sun as she does at the freshness of the dawn. We thank you for your love that offers mercy and comfort and forgiveness uninterrupted by any of the events of our lives. Thank you especially for the gift of your son whose passion, death, and resurrection we remember this day. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Rev Jack LIpphardt
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