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Imagine a world where love is the way. At the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Bishop Michael Curry wondered out loud what such a world might look like. He invited everyone gathered for the highly anticipated wedding ceremony to dream of a world fueled by love. What would it look like? What changes would be made? What would be different from what we experience now? Bishop Curry invited the wedding guests to imagine such a world, and then he described it to them. But, before I tell you how he described it, I want to tell you what it looks like to me.

Shortly after our family moved to western Nebraska, my grandpa asked me if I would like to play with him in the city band. I grew up playing clarinet duets with my grandpa whenever we would come to Gering to visit, so the thought of getting to play with him again delighted me. But, there were a couple of problems: first, I hadn’t played my clarinet in over a decade after quitting in college due to TMJ, and second, I had signed up to coach my daughter’s softball team that summer and I wasn’t sure how I could manage both the softball and the city band schedules. I debated long and hard, and I decided that opportunities like this didn’t come around every day. I decided to play in the band with my grandpa. 

That summer, we rehearsed twice a week and we played concerts in the park. Grandpa and I would ride home together after band practice, and I cherished those moments and conversations in the car. I got the opportunity to play in the band with him the next summer, and even now as I think about it, I am so thankful for the time we had to share music together.

But now, as I reflect on those summers, I realize the sacrifice my grandpa made in order for us to have that time together. He struggled to get up and down the steps into the junior high band room. His asthma made it very difficult for him to get enough air to play the notes. But he didn’t complain. Twice a week, I would go by and pick up Grandpa for band, and he would smile and tell me how glad he was that we could play together.

Imagine a world where love is the way.

The book of Ruth begins with Naomi and her husband Elimelech. They flee a famine and end up in Moab where their two sons marry Moabite women. Naomi’s husband dies, and then both of her sons die, leaving her with her two daughters-in-law and no way for them to support themselves. Naomi hears a rumor that the famine has ended, and she decides to take a risk and head back home to Bethlehem. In the part of the story we read this morning, we see Naomi urging her daughters-in-law to return back to the families and their homeland. They are young enough that it is possible they will marry again, have children, and find security and support. At first, both of Naomi’s daughters-in-law refuse. They love her, and they don’t want her to make the treacherous journey back to Bethlehem alone. Naomi persuades Orpah to return to her family, but Ruth will not budge.

The story tells us that Ruth clung to Naomi, and that little word “clung” says it all. The word in the original Hebrew language means “to cling” or “to cleave.” It is the same word that is used in Genesis in this verse: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NRSV). Ruth does not just take Naomi by the hand, or embrace her and beg her not to go. Ruth’s act of love and devotion bonded her to Naomi. They formed a new family – an unlikely pair of women beginning a dangerous journey with no promise that they’d survive. Ruth said this to her mother-in-law in verses 16-17: “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” 

Imagine a world where love is the way.

In the midst of this broken and hurting world, I’ve seen glimpses of this new world where love reigns. I’ve seen churches that previously never worked together partnering to feed hungry people in the valley. I’ve seen neighbors bring meals to people who are sick or grieving. I’ve seen people give so generously that it is like love is flooding the streets. I’ve witnessed strangers pay for the groceries of the person who found out she was a few dollars short of having enough. I’ve seen people take risks to help others, stand up even when there might be consequences, and forgive each other even when the hurts run deep. As I try to imagine a world where love is the way, I don’t have to strain my imagination a whole lot. Even though this world is far from perfect, there are glimpses of God’s love every day.

So, what would it take for this world to be a world where love is the way? Bishop Curry takes a stab at answering this question in his chapter titled “Looking for God.” In it, he tells the story of his mother being rushed to the hospital with bleeding in her brain. Bishop Curry was just a small boy when this happened, but he wrote this as he reflected on that experience, “This period could have made an indelible and traumatic mark on me…I could have lost my childhood. But that’s not what happened.” He went on to describe the way the community rallied around his family. People rushed to provide meals. A woman took him to school every day, and another woman picked him up in the afternoon and helped him with his homework. His church family and community so surrounded him that even though he missed his mother terribly, he knew he was loved and he wasn’t alone. 

So, how do we find this love? How do we create a world where love is the way? Bishop Curry says it this way, “‘Join a faith community’ seems like an easy answer. But that’s really not the case. You can go there, but you still go to do love.” Love isn’t a club we can join. We don’t create a world where love is the way just by coming to church – though, I think it can help. Love is something we do. Or, as Curry put it, you got to do love. 

Take a moment and imagine a world where love is the way. What does it look like? What is happening there? Now, take a moment and think of someone who has shown you what it means to do love. Who has modeled that for you like Ruth did for Naomi? I wonder if your imagination will resonate with Bishop Curry’s. Here’s what he said in his sermon at the royal wedding:

“Imagine this tired old world where love is the way. When love is the way – unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.

When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.

When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.

When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary.

When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more.

When love is the way, there’s plenty good room – plenty good room – for all of God’s children.

Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well… like we are actually family.

When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.”

On this second week of Lent, we are journeying with Jesus. We are walking in his footsteps and remembering the things he taught his disciples. And, in a few weeks, we will take the final, difficult steps with Jesus to the cross, where Jesus demonstrated his abundant love for us. In the upper room, as he taught his disciples one last time, he told them this: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And then he showed them the way. A world where love reigns is a world where we are willing to lay down our lives for each other, just as Jesus did for each of us–not because we deserved it, but because he loved us.

So, where do we begin? This week, take some time to think about those who have shown you how to live in the way of love. If those people are still living and if you are able to do so, take a moment to let them know what they mean to you. The first step toward creating a world where love reigns is to recognize love in action when we see it. 

Next, we need to take an assessment of our hearts. If I’m honest, on difficult days, it is not always easy for me to believe that love will conquer all–even though I know it will. On those days, it can help to remember the person you imagined in step number one, or to think about an act of love or kindness you experienced recently. In the difficulties of this world, it can be easy to let the tough stuff overwhelm the good. By remembering and celebrating those glimpses of love, we can put the tough stuff back in its place. 

I recently came across this prayer by Sarah Bessey called “A Prayer to Learn to Love the World Again.” It reminded me of the importance of looking for God’s love, even in the difficult stuff. It says this:

“God of herons and heartbreak,
teach us to love the world again.
Teach us to love extravagantly
knowing it may
(it will) break our hearts
and teach us that it is worth it.

God of pandemics and suffering ones,
teach us to love the world again.

God of loneliness and longing,
of bushfires and wilderness,
of soup kitchens and border towns,
of snowfall and children,
teach us to love the world again.


Take time to remember and celebrate people who have shown you how to live the way of love. Check in with your heart. Is the tough stuff drowning out the good? And then, we got to do it, as Bishop Curry says. 

If every one of us decided to live the way of love, what would that do in our community? What difference might it make in our neighborhoods? How might it revolutionize our homes and our hearts?

Dear friends, let’s imagine a world where love is the way, and then let’s get out there and do love, so that all might know that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”