Sunday Morning | October 25, 2023 | John C. Majors | Louisville, KY
The sermon, titled "The Sacrificial Mission," focuses on a short section of verses (John 15:12-17) and emphasizes the theme of love. The preacher acknowledges the challenge of presenting familiar themes in a fresh way but highlights the importance of repeatedly hearing and applying these truths. The main points of the sermon are as follows:
The sermon encourages the congregation to love one another by following these methods of love and concludes by emphasizing the transformative power of Christ's love in changing individuals and enabling them to love others, even those who are unloving toward them.
At Valley View Church we are currently studying through the entire gospel of John, verse by verse. You can join us on Sunday mornings at 11 AM for worship. We are located at 8911 3rd Street Road, Louisville KY 40272.
well, I wasn't sure if she was going to leave me time to preach or not there for a minute. That had been okay. It would have been fine. Yeah. Transitions can be hard. It's part of life. We will have something that's more of an official reception As the date approaches to where the final transition is made. She's --Eddie Lee is going to help invest in the next person that comes in and continue to be a part of serving our senior adults especially. So that's it's really powerful. But you need to know something else about Eddie Lee. She presents herself as all sweet and kind all the time, but she she's got a sneaky side, too. Okay. This week she called me. She. She emailed me, didn't even call me. I need to have a meeting with you. I got to have a meeting this week. Okay. She must really be struggling with this decision. She must need prayer and counseling and comforting. So I set up the meeting, I rearranged stuff to make time just for her, and then I had to switch it and she adjusts. And so we get this meeting together and I walk out of my study and there she is and there's all the rest of the staff congregated. And I'm thinking, this is weird. What's going on? Is there a coup happening or what? But then she comes out, she and Susan had arranged she comes out with a big box of books because it was my 50th birthday that they were celebrating. So she tricked me into that. Yeah. She started by saying, you know, I was here when I started. She said, the pastor at the time, Brother Howe, in her first year turned 50, and she thought, I could never imagine anyone being that old at the time. Right. She sees it a little differently now. That's how it goes. But, you know, I was grateful. I felt very loved on, very encouraged. Each staff member brought a book from their own shelf at home that that reminded me of them. And so there was some interesting books in the midst of that, some interesting conversations. I really appreciate it. Well, all except one book, actually. There was one book that I really didn't appreciate. In fact, we're going to throw it up on the screen. Andrew gave it to me. Ham radio license manual. I can't read that from here. All you need to become an amateur radio operator. And I thought, What does he think? I've forgotten how to use a cell phone or something. Now I got to learned when you're old to use the radio, I guess that happens. Whatever. Thank you, Andrew. Maybe. The same day my youngest son said to me, Dad, do you think now that you're 50, you'll have the energy to preach on Sunday? Will you be able to get up on stage? We'll see, I said. He was kidding. I think I think. Anyway, we are continuing in our study of the book of John working through the book of John, and we're going to be in John chapter 15 today. We're in the middle of the book of John. We're just covering a short section of verses verses 12 through 17, and you're going to see a lot of familiar themes in this. It's a small section because we're hitting some of the same themes over and over again. And I confessed to the Elders this morning, I really struggle with this message how to best present it, because how do you present the same thing in a new, fresh way that we've been hearing week after week after week? How can I make that more interesting, more novel? But then it hit me. There's a reason Jesus keeps repeating the same thing over and over again, and I don't need to kind of dress it up and make it more interesting. We need to keep hearing it over and over again. We need to keep repeating some of the truths we'll hear in this passage. So we're going to work our way through some of these sections. And I think the emphasis of this passage obviously, is on the word love. You're going to see that right out of the gate. But I think he's trying to show us three things about love in this passage. I think he's trying to show us the mission, the command, the call on us is to love. But then he emphasizes that we're not left with just a command, but we have a model for how to love. He gives us that model, that example. It's not just an empty command. He shows us how to love. And then the third thing he emphasizes in this passage is not just the model, but he gives us specific methods or his specific ways of loving us. In fact, we're going to see six ways that he models love specifically in this passage. So let's dive in and look at John chapter 15. If you have a church Bible, that page number is up on the screen. Page 800 something. 848 If you don't have a Bible, those are in the connection corner. Grab one any time. We'd love to put one in your hands. I try to get us to read from our own Bibles, not just put the passage up on the screen where we passively have it read to us. But we need to be reading from God's Word to get familiar with His word, to be turning the pages of our Bible, having it absorbed in our lives. So, John, Chapter 15. Let's start by reading verse 12. We're actually going to read through the whole section for today, 12 through 17, and set the context for ourlook at Jesus's love for us. Verse 12:
This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends. If you do what I command you, no longer do I call you servants. But the servant does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends. For all that I have heard from my father, I have made known to you. You did not choose me. But I chose you and appointed you. That you should go bear fruit and that your fruit should abide so that whatever you ask in the father and the father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command to you so that you will love one another. So the first thing he emphasizes about love in this passage is just the mission, the command, love, love one another. The passage starts with the command, and it ends with the almost exact same verse. Look at 12. This is my commandment- You love one another, verse 17. These things I commanded so that you will love one another. That's bookending this passage. That's the emphasis of this section. And it's been all throughout this whole upper room sermon, upper room discourse. In fact, if you think back to John chapter 13, that kind of kicked off this whole section, I give you a new command, love one another, and we talked about why that was new. It was a new standard. It was a new community, a new covenant, a new expression of love, lived out among people who aren't necessarily related. Meaning we're not all from Jewish lineage now. We have a new covenant in him, a new relationship in him, a new community together in him. But then that follows up with love one another. It's a new command. And this is how people will know that you're my disciple by your love for one another. And so the call is for us to be loving one another. This is how people will know that there's something different about us. This is how they will know that we're set apart from the rest of the world that that something about us operates differently. When our family first went to serve in missions in the South Pacific, I had a friend say to us, you know, you really should pick a passage, a scripture for your family to dwell on in that season. And so we did. He recommended one. And I'm going to take you there because I want to show you one verse in there briefly. It's in Colossians chapter three. We meditated on these verses for month after month after month. This short section of verses turn to Colossians chapter three. That'll be on page 925 in your Bible. Colossians is one of the epistles of Paul Galatians Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians are all there together. They share a lot of similar content. But this section here, it was amazing how relevant it was to our lives day in and day out in terms of loving one another. Well, Colossians Chapter three started verse 12-- put on then as God's chosen one- chosen ones- holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another and if anyone has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you. It's fascinating how many times as we meditated on these verses that that very day there was something in here that each of us needed to hear. If anyone has a complaint against one another, forgive one another, show kindness to one another, move toward one another. But the verse that I want us to see, the day that follows right on heels of this is verse 14. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony, Put on love, in fact, put on love because it binds us together. That in fact, I think you could say love is the means of unity, because there's a lot of things a church can unite around. It could be doctrine. I mean, it should be doctrine. There should be unity around our beliefs, could be a cause. Maybe there's some special cause that a church really rallies around. They consider this is the burden that God has put on us. The thing he wants us to be all about. It could be style of worship. Yeah. This is what sets us apart from others. This is how we worship. It could be a style of chili you prefer maybe-- noodles, not noodles. I don't know. We could unite. Divide around that. There's a lot of things you can unite around. But if there's not love in the midst of that, it doesn't matter. You've seen those churches where they are steadfastly united around doctrine. they know their doctrine, but there's no love. There's bitterness, there's anger, there's no friendliness. So we can be perfectly united around doctrine. Let me tell you, we could have really outdated styles of worship and so, so preaching, maybe we do point being we can have all that. But if we have people who are kindhearted, sincerely loving Christ, servant hearted, full of loving one another in that church that can't keep from growing, you see how love binds us together, how love creates unity, how critical it is to us serving him. I reached out to Bob Russell recently. He was the pastor at Southeast Christian. You know, when he came there, they were 100 people. And when he left, I don't know, 22,000 plus people after 40 years and one place. And I reached out to him to say, thank you. I am the new pastor of Valley View. Bob Russell actually helped install elders here. He worked with us to develop an elder board. He preached the sermon to launch the elders to commission the elders. And so I just said, Thank you for your investment here. I really appreciate it as the new pastor. And so he said, Hey, let's grab lunch. I want to hear about what God's doing at Valley View. Okay, Bob, No problem. So we get together and then he starts to ask me what's happening at Valley View, What's God doing at Valley View? You tell me about how things are going there. I want to hear. Tell me about your staff. How are your staff? Man, Bob, I got great staff, great group of people who really love the Lord. Okay. Tell me about the elders. How are they? You know, we put them in place how are they doing? Amazing elders. These are men who deeply love the Lord, that they're serving the body. They're willing to do whatever it takes to serve people. Well, tell me about that. Sounds great. Tell me about your finances. Is this is the church in debt? No, Bob, we don't have any debt. Well, well, tell me about your people. What's the tone of your people like? Are they encouraging or are they difficult? I’m like, Bob, the people here, they're amazing person after person is just excited and encouraged. There's an excitement in the room every Sunday. I can't wait to get there and just talk with people and hear what they're excited about. And Bob said, John, I really believe God has you in a place to see him do some amazing things in your community. Bob left the conversation encouraged and excited about Valley View. The dude who built the biggest church around is excited about what God is doing here, and I think what we can look to and see in the midst of that is that there is a spirit of loving one another that permeates all throughout the church. And I'm grateful for you and I'm grateful to be a part of that. And it's exciting to see another guy that I look up to get excited about that. So love one another. That's the first call. That's the mission of this passage. We need to love one another. Now, he doesn't just leave us with a command, he says, Now watch me. He gives us the method. In fact, look at the next verse, actually same verse, verse 12. This is my command that you love one another as I have loved you. He gives us the model, Here's the command to love. Do you want to know how? Watch me, he says back in chapter 13. You want to know how to serve one another. And he washed their feet. He showed them how to love. But what happens in these next few verses? In fact, I think verse 13 through 16 are an expansion on that idea. Love, as I have loved you. Want to know how to love one another? Watch my model as I have loved you. And here's what that means. And so we're going to see six ways, six methods that he lays out in these next few verses about the ways he loved us. And this is a different take on how to love one another, because I could stand up here and give and it would be good. By the way, there'll be other times we'll do that. There's other times I have done that. I could give specific methods on how we should love one another, you know, be kind to one another, give encouragement, give compliments, serve one another. And that's really important. But where we're starting today is looking at how Jesus loved his followers. That takes us back to the source of love, because we can have great methods for how we love one another. But it's got to be rooted in the source of love. That's where we want to start. So we're going to look at the six ways in this passage that he loved his disciples and I think also how he loves us. That's the starting point for how we love one another. So let's look at the first one here, first method he outlines here and how we love one another. Look at verse 13, Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone laid down his life for his friends. So the first is sacrifice. The first way he models loving one another is sacrifice. You know, all love involves some measure of sacrifice. In fact, love is the greatest commandment. Love your neighbor, love the Lord your God. And among the greatest commands, the greatest expression of that, he says, here, is to lay down your life for someone else to be willing to lay down your life. Now we know that what he is referring to primarily here is that he is about to lay down his life for them and of course, for us and for the world to know him, to know true life. We know that's what he's referring to primarily, but they don't know that. In fact, we've seen all along how they're missing what he's really saying. Right? So try to imagine how this phrase would land on his disciples. I mean, look back. He says, Greater love-- verse 13-- has no one than this, that someone laid down his life for his friends. And you are my friends. You have to be imagining in that moment that they're hearing him say, You want to know what real love looks like. You lay down your life for your friends and you’re my friends, and they've all along been all about what they believed to be the mission of the Messiah. Let's go overthrow the government. You take over, set up a new righteous rule, and we'll be at your right hand. The left will be in power as well. And they hear time to lay down your life. The time is ahead of us. I've got to think that they're sitting here thinking, This is time. We're going out in a blaze of glory in this moment. You know, they're probably saying, remember the Alamo or thinking of Custer's Last Stand or Thermopylae and the Spartans or maybe Mel Gibson in Scotland. Like who knows what all is running through their mind in terms of rallying cry. Let's charge the mountain. We're willing to lay down our lives in this moment. But I think there's a day to day application for us because, by the way, they will lay down their lives just not the way they thought and not the time they thought. They're going to lay down their lives for the gospel, for the proclamation of the gospel. But when it comes to us, this idea of laying down our lives for our friends, this idea of love involving sacrifice --man, that can take on a million different iterations every single day. And, you know, the really maddening part of this is it's easy to lay down my life to love someone when I want to. When I find them loving, when they feel worth it. Maybe they did something for me first. But you know what's crazy is so many of the opportunities to really love someone come from a hard situation. Someone being maybe someone being rude to you. In fact, I've found it seems like that when people are difficult with you and rude to you, that's one of the ways they're saying I need love. Okay. Waving the red flag. Love me. I need to be seen. No one else will love me. I don't know what else to do. I got to react. I just finished reading. I mentioned it many months ago. I finally got through it. A book on the history of delusions. Okay. Research for something that I see here in the crowd. Don't worry. I just found the topic interesting. But the author walks through a bunch of different delusions in the history of the world. One was a man who thought his head had been cut off and a new a different head had been. They put the wrong head back on him. You know, this was the time of the French Revolution and the guillotines. And his evidence was his teeth. It's like, look at my teeth. My teeth aren't that bad. It's got to be someone else's head. Okay. Another delusion was King Charles, the sixth king of France, 1300s. He was convinced all his bones had turned to glass as he wouldn't let people touch him or he would crumble. He even had iron rods sewn into his clothing just in case his bones break. You'd be able to still support himself and then go through people who were convinced they were Napoleon or some other famous leader. Even long after that person had died and passed away. The interesting conclusion of that book is, though, you see the author she really wrestled with, Why are there so many different kinds of delusions? Why do people end up there in these ridiculous places? And she said, I've come to see that most people who fall into a delusion, it's their mind in a subconscious way, saying, give me attention. I need to be seen. I'm not being seen. Even the king of France, no one knows me. No one loves me. Would you just notice me? And attention equals love. And love requires sacrifice. And here's what I would say to you in this moment. Who in your life needs love, right? Who is waving their hand? And now you're taking it more like a fist waving. And it might be who is saying I need love? I'm not seen. I need attention. Will you love me? How do we move toward that person? In fact, I'd encourage you as I continue, we're number one of six. The others will move along more quickly to write down specifics. Just be praying, Lord. Bring to mind specifically that person I need to love. What person? What time, what day, where. The more specifics you can put to it, the more likely it is to happen. We can't just leave it in the vague. Yeah. I need to be more loving. No, I'm going to call my grandma Thursday at noon and invite her to lunch because she needs love. Be specific, drive towards specifics, be praying, God would you put specifics on my heart? On how I can love someone? So that's the first way. Sacrifice. Now let's look at the second way here. Keep looking. Look at verse 13 again. Greater love has no one than this. That someone laid down his life for his friends. And then notice what he says to them. You are my friends if you do what I command. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you friend. So the second way he models, the second example he gives us of love is friendship. He calls us friends, which is a powerful thing to say. And we're in an age where you can have hundreds of friends online. We've got to add things like, in real life, a true friend. And you know the difference. Gigantic difference. Jesus calls them friends. The word there for friend shows up about 30 times in Scripture in the New Testament. And it's you hear this word play out in the city, Philadelphia. You know, what's this? What's that? The nickname or the meaning of the word Philadelphia. What are they called? Do you know? City of Brotherly Love. Those two words mean brother and love philos-- It's just the word for love, even baked into the word. That's the same word translated as friend. Even baked into that word friend, is the idea of love loving one another. And that word is used in a variety of ways, though in fact, one of the ways that's used is as an insult. The Pharisees call Jesus a friend of tax collectors, a friend of the unwanted. That they they're using it as an insult. Of course, he sees it as a compliment. Thank you. That's right. You've got it. It's also used just as a general term of address. He would use it with a large crowd. Let me tell you, my friends, today, you know, when he gives a sermon on the plane in Luke, friends, large crowd. But I only saw him use it that I could see three times in a personal address. And it's really interesting. The first time was with Judas. Or one of the times was with Judas Friend. Go ahead and do what you've come to do. And we could unpack that for a while about what was going on there. Also, with Lazarus, one of our friends, our friend Lazarus has died. We need to go see him. But then he uses it here with the disciples friends. I call you friends and a friend is someone who lets you into their world. That's someone that cares about you in a different way. In fact, the contrast here is between a friend and a slave. Look back here again at verse 14. You are my friends. If you do what I command you. Now, let me make a comment about that, because this makes it sound a little too conditional. You are my friends. If like in middle school, you know. Yeah, you can be my friend if you give me part of your lunch every day. That's not. That's a red flag right there, by the way. That's not a real friend. We know that's not. It's not really if in the way we would think. It's more like since, you know, you are my friends, since you follow my commands. In fact, one, I'm gonna throw this quote up on the screen. One guy said it this way. Obedience marks rather than makes us friends. I thought that was a good way to say it. If we don't obey him just so that we can somehow try to gain favor with him enough so that maybe he will be our friend and kind to us. No, it's obedience out of the overflow, of the joy of knowing him and knowing that when we obey him, that's where we find our greatest joy in life. It's the overflow of that. Huge difference. Doesn't mark-- It doesn't make, it marks. It shows that we are his friends. And he called them friends. Noticing a shift in the relationship. Because the contrast with that-- continuing in verse 14-- No longer do I call you servants. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends. In fact, this is pointing at the third way that he gives them the method of love. The example of love. And that's knowledge. The difference between a friend and a slave, he says here, the servant does not know what his master is doing. But I've called you friends for all that I've heard from my father. I have made known to you. I have revealed to you a friend let you into their world. They don't keep things from you. They're not trying to hide things from you. There's a delight in exchange of ideas and information of being on the inside. And he has let them in even though they haven't seen it. He has shared with them over and over and over again here's what I'm really about. Here's why I've come. I remember working with a guy who he had a very specific way of doing things, a very specific way that he wanted things done for those who worked for him. And he would give very specific instructions about how he wanted the work done. And he didn't want any input from the guys who worked for him. You-- I give the commands, you carry it out. That's how it works. Now, this was really frustrating for those guys who worked for him. But then they came to a point. In fact, I was reminded of the Teddy Roosevelt quote, One of the best ways to show that a law is not a good law is to just carry it out to its fullest extent. You could ignore it and of course, you should try to change it, but go ahead, carry it out to its fullest extent and then everybody will see, well, that wasn't a good idea. And so these guys fully embrace that. Okay. That's how you want it done. That's what we'll do. Exactly as you said. And no more and no less. And of course, the work that he had for them to carry out always had problems. The projects never went the way they should. And he was frustrated and blaming them. We did what you said. Still didn’t- didn't want their input. We did what you said, and that's all. But you know how it's different when you serve with someone who you delight in doing what they ask. They want to hear from you as well. They want to tell you why there's a give and take when someone's not just the boss, but also a friend. I think of-- I put it in the midweek update this week about the Band of Brothers book that talked about the easy company on D-Day, World War Two. There's one guy in particular in that book that is featured as just the quintessential leader in that group, Major Dick Winters. And the guys said of him, We hated to let him down. We hated to let him down. We wanted to go to whatever length it took to carry out what he said. And of course, he was listening to them. He was leading them. He was making sure that they were heard. They were as involved in it as as he was. Gigantic difference. The movement from slave to friend. Now, I got to say, though, I love that idea. Jesus is my friend. But also it makes me a little nervous to say that. Does anybody else go, I don't know about that. That feels a little weird to call Jesus, my friend. I don't know how comfortable I am with that. Feels too informal, maybe feels a little too loosey goosey. Like Jesus... friend... I don't know. You know, I think. I think there's something to that, actually. I wouldn't just say, Well, hey, just get over that. He calls us friend. You're his friend. Be good with that. I think there's something to that, because in scripture, you see Jesus calling people friends, but you don't really see them calling him friend. And I don’t know that this is a perfect analogy, but maybe maybe it's a little bit like it's okay for the president to give you a nickname. George Bush was kind of famous for that, handing out nicknames, but you don't walk up and call him Prezzy or something, right? It's not really right for you to give him a nickname. Again, not a perfect analogy, but there's still a level of respect and difference that's there. Even Paul in Titus, he starts out by saying, I'm an apostle and then I know you've heard this because we've talked about this in our men's breakfast. I'm an apostle and I'm a slave. He still sees part of his identity. Jesus is our friend. Yes. Yes. There's a friendship. There's a deeper connection there. He's not just a dictator, but there's still a difference. And that's okay to recognize that it's okay to hold those in tension. So third is friendship. And now fourth, look what he does in verse 14, going into verse 15, I've called you friends for all that I have heard from my father, I've made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide or remain. Jesus chooses his disciples. In ancient times it was usually the other way around. The disciples found the rabbi. They went after him to follow him. And maybe if they were fortunate, the rabbi would finally give them attention and allow him to continue following them. But Jesus, He goes to people who seem totally fine where they were fishing or messing with money. You follow me, you’re mine. Come put down everything else. Follow me. Jesus chooses them. And you know what I think what's fascinating about that and I'm this way, it probably felt like to them. Yeah, I chose Jesus. I was smart enough to know where that guy was going. Latched myself on to him, look at how great I am. And look, by the way, they did choose him, too. That's true. But we're able to love one another because he first loved us. He came to us first and said, You're mine, you're mine. And we had to respond to that. But you're mine. He chose and he chose number four. Number five. He chose for a purpose. Look at what it says he chose in verse 16. You did not choose me. I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit. Your fruit should abide. When he chose us, he also gave us a purpose, which is to love, to multiply, to bear fruit. The purpose of the disciples was to then now multiply, to spread the Great Commission, to spread the gospel to the world. So number five is a point he chooses, but he also appoints. And he gives us a mission. He gives us purpose. And we all need purpose in life. You need direction in life. There's nothing harder than a purposeless life. But he gives that when he chooses. He guides. He directs. And then number six, look at verse 16. Whatever you ask. The father in my name, he may give it to you. Whatever you ask the father in my name, he may give it to you. We've seen that verse a couple of other times already. We've talked about how that's not just a formula, but it means as I get to know him better, my prayers more and more what he would have in me. But the key thing for us to hear here, because we've been focused on the asking part, we need to ask we need to ask in a way that honors him but what was powerful here is he listens. In fact, it’s number six in the ways he loves us. He listens. And whatever you ask the father in my name, he may give it to you. He hears us. Practically speaking, that's one of the most powerful way you can love other people is to just listen to them. Think of the person who has just listened to you and how much love that showed you. He listens. He hears where you are. He's... here's what you're going through. He knows where you are and he deeply loves and cares about you. And this section has already showed ends with a verse on love. The commandment is to love one another. And it began with the command on love. And that's our call. Love one another. Love one another well. man, because when God gets a hold of you, He changes you. He makes you able to love others. Had a friend he shared with me. This is a really sharp guy at so many levels. Degree after degree after degree and various fields. And he said, You know, before I knew Christ, I was one of the angriest persons you could ever meet. Quick tempered. And I would go blows in a heartbeat over nothing. And he said, Christ got a hold of him in a radical conversion. He put aside drugs and partying in a radical conversion. In a moment. And there shortly after he is on campus, is in college, and he's excited about Christ. And there's a there's a preacher out on the campus, open air preacher. And so he goes to hear him because he just wants to soak up God's word wherever he is, and he's listening to this guy. But then there's another guy over heckling him. You know come on, Whatever. That's dumb. You're an idiot. He probably chose different words than that. Nobody believes that junk, on and on. And finally, he turns to the guy. He's like, Hey, man, let him talk. It's okay. And this guy erupts on him. You know, you Nimcompoop. Again, different words. You moron. On and on. And my friend goes, I got to tell you, man, the rage meter. Ooooh... It was coming to the top in an instant. But the love of Christ overwhelmed me in that moment. He had changed me. And before I would have picked that guy apart in an instant, without a question. And he said, I turned to him and I looked at him and I just said, Hey, man, it's going to be okay. It's going to be all right. It's going to be okay. Jesus loves you. And that guy quieted down. He just began to take in the moment. When Christ gets a hold of you, he radically changes your life. And he puts us in a place where we can love one another. Even those who are unloving toward us. Move toward the unloving. Press toward the unloving. That's a flag. Love me. I need be seen. Show me love. I know that's hard. I know that's complicated. But that's our call. And Christ gives us the strength to do that. Let's pray. God, we thank you for this morning. We thank you that you give us the power to love. And I thank you that I'm in a church and full of people who love well. Okay, none of us do it perfectly. We know that. But Lord we want you to teach us how to love. Help us to know how to love one another. We want this church to be known as a place where your love is poured out in relationship after relationship after relationship. And God, we thank you for the loving care given to our children for decade after decade after decade after decade by a woman who has committed to you, who deeply loves you. And we pray overwhelming blessings on Eddie Lee's life moving forward. Help us to love her well, help us to continue to love our children well. We know that you are raising up through our children a future generation of people who steadfastly love and follow you. God, we ask all these things in your name. We pray. Amen.