Love One Another: A Sermon Series Based on the Five Love Languages

Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35 NRSV

Life’s deepest meaning is not found in accomplishments,
but in relationships. – Gary Chapman

Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, Florida began 2013 with a new sermon series entitled Love One Another. In this series we learned how to cultivate Godly relationships with others (spouse, children, co-workers, friends, etc.) by understanding how others best receive/experience love. God is love and Jesus best reveals to us how to love. Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, provided the themes for the series.

Discover your Love Language online, for free at

Click for the sermon manuscript: Love One Another: Words of Affirmation
Click for the sermon manuscript: Love One Another: Quality Time
Click for the sermon manuscript: Love One Another: Receiving Gifts
Click for the sermon manuscript: Love One Another: Acts of Service
Click for the sermon manuscript: Love One Another: Physical Touch

Love One Another: Physical Touch

This is the fifth of five messages inspired by the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. The congregation is invited to take out something to write with and the bulletin insert for taking notes. Click here for the Physical Touch Insert. The prayer following the message is also located on the insert.

This message followed a time of prayer for all those effected by the accidental death of a local middle school student only two days prior.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been discovering how to love one another as Jesus loved. I’m grateful for the work of Dr. Gary Chapman which has so faithfully shaped our discussion. Though this sermon series is coming to an end, Jesus’ commandment to love goes on. Let’s review the five Love Languages again:

Words of Affirmation– For some, they best receive love through what we say and how we say it.

Quality Time- love through presence. This is exactly what those grieving Colin’s death need right now. Space to be real. Space to cry or scream. Someone to listen to their questions and their hearts.

Receiving Gifts- Gifts are tangible, symbolic expressions of love. We remember the love when we look at the gift or use the gift.

Acts of Service- Love in action. Which is closely tied to this week’s love language, Physical Touch- love through contact.

In today’s Scripture, all the love languages come together in a powerful way. We also see love abused and ignored.

Luke 10:25-37 NIV
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

The expert wants to test Jesus. This tells us quite a bit about him. He knows the law well and sums it up in what we often call The Great Commandment. You shall love the Lord your God, for love and life and salvation are from God. You shall love God with your entire being, holistically, a beautiful reminder that salvation means wholeness. You shall love your neighbor likewise. Up to God and out to neighbor, the cross shaped life provided through Christ. Yes! Do this, Jesus says, and you will live, live now and live forever. Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom is a present and future reality. The loving relationships of eternal life break into the present through faith. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

The expert is not satisfied. He wants to justify himself, to save himself through the strength of his own words and actions, to save himself by following the law to perfection. Jesus recognizes this and tells him a story.

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

It’s obvious to all the robbers didn’t love the man. They beat him, abused him, and left him for dead. The tragedy of the story is that two others didn’t show him love either. The Priest and the Levite were religious, educated folks. They should have known better yet there are no words of comfort, no quality time, no acts of service.

Who shows the stranger love? A Samaritan. This is shocking in the ancient world. Jews did not speak to Samaritans. They were labeled half-breeds and many thought they could have no relationship with God since they worshipped differently and in different locations than the Jews.

Yet it is this outsider, the one who understands rejection and has probably experienced it himself, who loves the stranger deeply. He sees the beaten man as another human being, without regard of culture or race. He serves the man and spends quality time nursing him and binding his wounds. It’s easy for us to imagine words of encouragement, “You’re not alone. It’s going to be ok. You’re safe now.” He gives the man use of his own donkey and pays for his extended care.

And most importantly, he touches the man. This is the primary reason the religious folks walked on by. They didn’t want to touch him. He was bleeding and touching blood would make them ritually unclean until enough time had passed and enough sacrifices had been made. The religious folks valued the law above a life.

This past week my daughter and I were in NYC for her college auditions. As we left lunch and headed towards Times Square, we saw a man lying on the sidewalk. It was hard to tell if he was asleep or unconscious. He had a sign explaining he had been beaten for some reason. Large numbers of people walked right passed him, but my daughter stopped. She was making her way towards him and I stopped her. I was afraid for her, thinking of all the things that might happen.

Stopping her and stopping myself from responding to him is now haunting me. I read a passage like this and realize I’m the educated, religious leader who’s now walked on by a human being in need. I should know better and I should have done better. I could have found a police officer who would know what to do, just like the Samaritan found the innkeeper.

In John 13:34-35 NRSV, Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus said this when? Right after he washed the disciples’ feet. Jesus wasn’t stopped by tradition or toe jam. Jesus loved deeply and demonstrated that love. Jesus understood the power of touch.

Demonstration: Invite someone up from the congregation. Extend your hand to shake their hand and they will respond. Now ask them to extend their hand to shake yours. Refuse to shake their hand and ask them how it feels. Offer to shake hands again and then right after use hand sanitizer. It’s funny but it makes a point.

Loving relationships are built on communication. Research tells us that communication is 7% what you say, 38% how you say it, and 55% body language.

  • Hugs & Kisses
  • Pat on the back or on the head
  • Holding Hands
  • Sexual intimacy between a married couple

Christ knew this and so Christ touched people- dead people, bleeding people, people with skin diseases. He was not concerned with being unclean. One time he was brought a man who was deaf and mute. Jesus sticks his fingers in the man’s ears and then holds on to his tongue as part of the healing. (Mark 7:31-37) Another time he was brought a blind man. Jesus picks up some dirt, spits in his hands, and then rubs the mud on the man’s eyes. (John 9:1-7) Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch people, to get involved, to get dirty.

Christ touched people and allowed himself to be touched- We think of Mary holding him in her arms and hold him to her breast. Of Jesus welcoming little children (ever have a little one grab your leg and won’t let go?).

And what about the notorious woman with the alabaster jar (Luke 7:36-50) who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and lets down her hair in public in order to dry them. Then she begins kissing his feet. Then she cracks open that exotic bottle of expensive perfume and anoints his feet. The educated, religious folks sneer, but Jesus declares she has been forgiven much and thus she has shown great love. He says she will be remembered for her love and so she is.

Jesus allows the guards to whip him and strip him and beat him. He allows them to nail him to a cross till he is touched by death itself. Then a few brave ones perform the last act of love for him. They beg for his broken, bleeding body in order to wash it. Then they wrap it gently in linen and spices and lay him in a stone tomb.

But that is not the end. Jesus is raised on day three, alive, and how does he prove it? He says, “Touch me.” Touch the place where the nails were in my hands. Touch where the spear was thrust into my side.

You see dear friends, God cares about bodies. Some religions claim only the soul is important. Only the soul lives on, but not God. God creates through speech, but also reaches down into the mud to create through touch. The Adam. The Earth-Man. God – Father, Son, Spirit- aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. God cares about every part of us- heart, soul, mind, body. Resurrection of the body. Salvation means wholeness. Every part will be redeemed.

We has the followers of Christ must also care about bodies, we must touch. This is so important Jesus names us his Body. Like him, we touch even though the world says it’s dangerous, too involved, too intimate, too dirty. Go and do likewise, says our Lord. Go and do likewise.

Know you are always welcome at our congregation, Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, FL. We worship on Sundays at 8am, 9:20am, and 11am. Dress casual and bring the kids.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this message in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page

Love One Another: Acts of Service

Serve One Another by Marca Sue DeLacerda

This is the fourth of five messages inspired by the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. The congregation is invited to take out something to write with and the bulletin insert for taking notes. Click here for the Acts of Service Insert. The prayer following the message is also located on the insert.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been learning about the five love languages and how to use them to fulfill Jesus’ command to “love one another.” This is so important, let’s do a quick review. (Allow the congregation to offer possible answers to fill in the blanks.)

Words of Affirmation                   
Love through what we say and how we say it. Some people feel most loved when you give them a sincere compliment or a word of encouragement.

Quality Time                                   
Love through presence. Some feel most loved when you make space to give them your undivided attention, when you listen. This often leads to a much needed conversation.

Receiving Gifts                                              
tangible, symbolic expressions of love. When we remember a gift, look at a gift, or use a gift we remember the love and thoughtfulness of the person who gave it to us and we feel loved.

And this week, Acts of Service                                                
Love in action

Francis of Assisi is known for making God’s love real in many different ways. He lived in Italy around 800 years ago. If you’ve ever seen a statue of a monk with birds and squirrels hanging around like they do for Disney princesses, you’ve probably seen a statue of Francis. He left his wealthy merchant family to live a simple life of nature, preaching, and good works.

As you listen to the story, look for the ways Francis practices the different love languages. (Read the first part of the story straight through and then read it again line by line so the congregation can respond. The story is provided by Derek Maul in his book 10 Life-Charged Words)

Part 1: Saint Francis of Assisi took a novice (monk in training) out for a day of preaching the gospel. As they left Assisi, they helped a farmer move his cart; (Acts of Service) down the road they talked with a merchant and listened to his problems; (Words of Affirmation and Quality Time) around noon they shared their meal with a hungry beggar; (Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts) soon after lunch they prayed with a sick woman; (Words of Affirmation, Quality Time) on their way back, they helped a woman carry her heavy load. (Acts of Service)

Part 2: When they returned to the monastery at dark, the novice commented that the day was gone and they hadn’t preached to anyone. “My son,” Francis responded, “we’ve been sharing the gospel all day long.”

Francis shared the gospel this way because this is how Jesus shared the Good News, through word and deed and time and gifts. Jesus had great conversations, washed the disciple’s feet, gave away bread, and listened to little children.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

For many, many folks, this means love in action.

In his chapter on the love language acts of service, Gary Chapman tells this story: Michelle sat in the living room, pecking away at the laptop. She could hear sounds from the utility room, where husband Brad was catching up with the piles of laundry. She smiled to herself. In recent days Brad had cleaned the condo, fixed supper, and run the errands, all because Michelle was in the midst of finals for grad school. It made her feel content . .  . loved.

Some people feel most loved when that love is demonstrated, when love is in action: cooking a meal, washing dishes, vacuuming, cleaning a toilet, changing the baby’s diaper, changing the cat’s litter box.

I remember a time when our girls were small and my husband was deployed with the Air Force. An elderly gentleman in our congregation came up to me as said, “I’d like to help you take care of your car. Get the oil changed, check under the hood and check your tires.” I thought, “Thank you Jesus!” I don’t know anything about cars except how to drive them and put gas in them. I also felt loved.

Our daughter is getting ready to travel for her college musical theatre auditions. She’s been working up to them for months; applications, essays, after school classes. One day my husband said, “Let me take care of the travel arrangements.” And he did. Weeks later he said, “Let me take care of the financial paperwork (FASFA and CSS).” Thank you Jesus! I’ve never loved him more.

How does the song go?
We will work with each other. We will work side by side.
We will work with each other. We will work side by side.
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Jesus put his love into action and we as followers of Christ still share the Good News this way today. Christians feed and clothe the poor, fight human trafficking, build water wells and hospitals and homes and schools. Every week in the bulletin we list opportunities for you to exercise your faith and your love in service to others. Why? It’s as essential as worship and growing your faith through small group studies. Come to think of it, serving others is worship, an offering of thanksgiving to God. And we know how much we grow through serving. It stretches us and makes the Scriptures come alive.

Desmond Tutu says,I don’t preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When people were hungry, Jesus didn’t say, ‘Now is that political or social?’ He said, ‘I feed you.’ Because the good news to a hungry person is bread.”

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love

They’ll know we are Christians by our love and they’ll know our God by our love! Loving others makes God’s love real. Acts of service open the door of the heart. Persons ask, “Why do you treat me well when no one else does? Why are you helping me?” And we have the chance to reply, “You’re important to God so you’re important to me. I just want to share God’s love with you in a practical way.”

Maybe this is how you came to know the love of God, through the kindness of a friend, family member or even a stranger. Maybe the hunger to make a difference, right a wrong is what drew you to faith.

You might be thinking, “Well isn’t this just random acts of kindness.” No, we’re not talking about random acts. We’re talking about intentional acts to make God’s love real, and our love real. We look for ways to serve and heal and provide. And we go out of our way to do it, just like Jesus did.

Cory Booker says, “In life, it is never the big battle, the big moment, the big speech, the big election. That does not change things. What changes things is every day, getting up and rendering small acts of service and love beyond that what’s expected of you or required of you.”

1 John 3:16-18 NRSV
We know love by this that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

Look and listen. People are in need all around us. What they say is a clue to what they need. What are they worried about? What are they complaining about?

We have to really look and listen, because some people have a hard time sharing their needs. We don’t want to appear weak or needy. We want to be self sufficient. But, this is why God gives us each other. No one can do everything and no one goes through life without needing help.

Then there’s the other side. Some people have a hard time serving. They hear Jesus’ call, “I have not come to be served but to serve” and they cringe. (Mark 10:45) Servant to them means doormat. God isn’t asking us to be a doormat, to be stepped on or kicked around. Doormats can’t love. People love.

To some servant means slave and slaves have no choice but to serve. God isn’t asking us to be slaves. Love isn’t forced or manipulated or coerced. Love is always a choice. We follow Christ, out of gratitude. We choose to love and we choose to love in healthy ways.

Augustine of Hippo once said,
What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of [others].
That is what love looks like.

Choose, my friends. Choose as Christ did. Choose to make God’s love real.

Know you are always welcome at our congregation, Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, FL. We worship on Sundays at 8am, 9:20am, and 11am. Dress casual and bring the kids.

Please consider patronizing today’s featured artist, Marca Sue DeLacerda.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this message in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page

Love One Another: Receiving Gifts

This is the third of five messages inspired by the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. The congregation is invited to take out something to write with and the bulletin insert for taking notes. Click here for the Receiving Gifts Insert. The prayer following the message is also located on the insert.  

One of the things I enjoy most about Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, are the stories he uses to illustrate his points. Here’s a great one from this week’s chapter on receiving gifts. (pg. 76)

I took an anthropology field trip to the island of Dominica. Our purpose was to study the culture of the Carib Indians, and on the trip I met Fred. Fred was not a Carib but a young black man of twenty-eight years. Fred had lost a hand in a fishing-by-dynamite accident. Since the accident, he could not continue his fishing career. He had plenty of available time, and I welcomed his companionship. We spent hours together talking about his culture.

Upon my first visit to Fred’s house, he said to me, “Mr. Gary, would you like to have some juice?” to which I responded enthusiastically. He turned to his younger brother and said, “Go get Mr. Gary some juice.” His brother turned, walked down the dirt path, climbed a coconut tree, and returned with a green coconut. “Open it,” Fred commanded. With three swift movements of the machete, his brother uncorked the coconut, leaving a triangular hole at the top. Fred handed me the coconut and said, “Juice for you.” It was green, but I drank it— all of it— because I knew it was a gift of love. I was his friend, and to friends you give juice.

At the end of our weeks together as I prepared to leave that small island, Fred gave me a final token of his love. It was a crooked stick fourteen inches in length that he had taken from the ocean. It was silky smooth from pounding upon the rocks. Fred said that the stick had lived on the shores of Dominica for a long time, and he wanted me to have it as a reminder of the beautiful island. Even today when I look at that stick, I can almost hear the sound of the Caribbean waves, but it is not as much a reminder of Dominica as it is a reminder of love.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about the ways people best hear and receive love. Dr. Chapman calls them the 5 Love Languages:
(1) Words of Affirmation
(2) Quality Time
(3) Receiving Gifts
(4) Acts of Service
(5) Physical Touch

Knowing how to love others and putting it into practice is important. It’s so important, Jesus commands us to love one another. (John 13:34-35) Some people feel most loved through what we say and how we say it- through Words of Affirmation. Others feel most loved when we set aside time to listen to them, to have a great conversation, to be fully present to them without distractions- through Quality Time. Still others feel loved when they receive gifts from us. Gifts are tangible symbols of love.

Fred is a great gift giver. His gifts are not expensive or numerous; great gifts don’t have to be. Three things make a great gift:
1. Its Personal
Fred was thinking of Gary’s comfort in offering him the drink. He wanted Gary to feel as welcome as possible in his home. His gift said, “I care about you as a person.”

2. Its Thoughtful
Fred was thinking of Gary when he found the stick. He thought Gary would enjoy its simplicity and beauty and the fact that it was so specific to Dominica. It was such a thoughtful gift, that every time Gary looks at the stick “it is a reminder of love.”

3. Its Generous
Great gifts take time and effort. It took time and effort to climb the tree, to find the stick. Fred lives a humble life. He could have probably sold the stick to a store that caters to tourists, but instead he made a sacrifice and gave it to Gary.

How many of us have received a thoughtless gift or even been re-gifted? Do you feel loved when this happens? Now remember a time when someone gave you a gift that knocked your socks off. Every time you remember it or look at it or use it you remember the love and effort of the person who gave it to you.

An old Nigerian proverb says, “It is the heart that gives; the fingers just let go.” Fred’s gifts were from the heart. Ours should be as well. Why? Because some people feel most loved when they receive a great gift.

Several years ago my husband Ed got me flowers for our anniversary. What made them extra special was that he spent time with the florist creating a bouquet of my favorite flowers. That extra effort showed me how much he loved me. The flowers are long gone, but I still remember and value his gift of love.

We welcome children into our worship services at Community UMC. Often you’ll see them drawing during worship. One Sunday, little Emma gave me one of her works of art. My heart soared when I saw it was a picture of me standing beside the communion table, my hands open wide. The picture also included the bread for communion, a candle, a cross, and a microphone. She was paying attention and she wanted me to know it.

In our congregation we have a group which makes and gives handmade afghans to persons who are going through a rough time or who are ill. Some donate the yarn while others knit or crochet. With every stitch the person is praying for the person who will receive the afghan. The time, effort, skill and intention join together to wrap the recipient in the warmth God’s love and the love of our congregation.

We love because God first loved us. (1 John 4:19) God is the ultimate Gift Giver. The sunshine to welcome us into a new day. A blanket of stars to settle us for sleep. Needed rain and the fruit of good earth and the gift of life itself.

Matthew 7:9–11 NRSV
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

And the way God most perfectly shows us love? Through the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” (John 3:16)

Jesus’ birth is God’s love given so we could see it.
Jesus’ life is God’s love given so we could believe it.
Jesus’ death and resurrection is God’s love given so we could receive it and live it.

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

In the story of the feeding of the five thousand, we see God’s love at work in Jesus and his followers.

Mark 6:30-32 NRSV
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Jesus loves the disciples by offering them quality time for conversation, rest and being present to one another.

Mark 6:33-34 NRSV
Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Jesus has compassion and love for the crowds, offering them words of affirmation and truth.

Mark 6:35-44 NRSV
When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

Like Jesus, the disciples too are concerned for the people and their welfare. Jesus tells them to show their love by giving the people food. The disciples feel overwhelmed with the challenge, knowing their offering is far too small. Yet they hand it to Jesus, who blesses it and multiplies it and it is enough. It is a good gift- personal, thoughtful, generous.

How many of us feel our offerings of love are too small? Our society says gifts are only valuable if they expensive and if they are many. Take courage! Our loving gifts when combined with God’s are more than enough.

O. Henry wrote a powerful short story called The Gift of the Magi. It’s about two poor, young newlyweds. Della’s prized possession is her beautiful, long, flowing hair. It’s grown almost to her knees. Jim’s prized possession is a shiny, gold watch which belonged to his father and grandfather. Each plot separately to give a Christmas gift that will express their love. Della decides to sell her beautiful hair in order to buy Jim an expensive chain for his watch. When he walks through the door of their small apartment, he sees her hair is gone, but he also sees the beaming smile on her face. She’s so excited to give him the gift. He opens it to find the watch chain. He then hands her his gift. She opens it to find beautiful combs for her hair. How has he paid for them? By selling his watch.

The young lovers’ gifts are personal, thoughtful, generous, sacrificial. They are beautiful because they are from the heart. They have a heart for giving because they know the Great Gift Giver. Like them, when we see all that God has done for us, our hearts overflow with thankfulness, generosity and love.

James 1:17 NRSV
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

We give because God the Gift Giver is at work in us.

One of the joys of being a pastor is when members of the congregation share with me how God is working in their lives. Chad gave me permission to share his story.

Chad does a great deal of work related driving. He was out last week and saw a man on the side of the road with a sign reading, “Anything.” Chad rolls down his window and says, “I don’t have any money, but would you like my sandwich?” The answer is “yes.” Chad gives him the sandwhich and drives away thinking to himself, “I still have my chips and bottle of water for lunch. That will be enough.”

Chad drives further and sees another person by the road with another sign. His heart swells. He rolls down his window and says, “I don’t have any money, but would you like my chips and water.” The person gladly receives them, opening the water and drinking like she’d just crossed desert. Chad thinks to himself, “I can miss a meal.”

Next a woman asks Chad for help. He’s not really supposed to help while on duty but does. When she’s about to head on her way, she thanks him, hands him $10 and tells him to “go have a nice lunch.”

This is the God we love and serve. Not because God gives pays us back with lunch money for our good deeds, but because God gives us a heart full of compassion and love and generosity. We love because God first loved us. We give because God first gives to us. Love well. Live well. Give well.

Know you are always welcome at our congregation, Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, FL. We worship on Sundays at 8am, 9:20am, and 11am. Dress casual and bring the kids.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this message in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page

Love One Another: Quality Time

Quality Time by Ashley Goldberg

Quality Time by Ashley Goldberg

This is the second of five messages inspired by the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. The congregation is invited to take out something to write with and the bulletin insert for taking notes. Click here for the Quality Time Insert. The prayer following the message is also located on the insert. Click here for another version of the prayer.

God is love. We are able to love God because God first loved us. We are able to love others because God first loved us.

Loving relationships are so important, Jesus commanded us to love one another. Let’s read it together.

John 13:34-35 NRSV
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”

If we’re going to love others as Jesus commands then we’re going to need to learn to communicate love in the way that’s easiest for the other person to hear it and receive it. Dr. Chapman researched this and identified 5 different ways in which persons best receive love. He calls them the 5 Love Languages
(1) Words of Affirmation
(2) Quality Time
(3) Receiving Gifts
(4) Acts of Service
(5) Physical Touch

Dr. Chapman’s research supports Jesus’ claim. Loving others is essential.
Married or single, young or old, every human has the emotional need to feel loved. When this need is met, we move out to reach our potential for God and our potential for good in the world. However, when we feel unloved, we struggle just to survive.
– Dr. Gary Chapman

Does a person need love to survive? I heard of a study years ago in Russia to test this theory. Infant orphans were fed, cleaned and changed but received no other human interaction. No cuddling. No soothing. The infants did not thrive. Like food and shelter, love was proved to be a basic human need.

Last week we discovered the first love language, words of affirmation. Love is often expressed in what we say and how we say it- words of encouragement, genuine compliments, and praising someone, especially in front of others. “I know you can do it. That color really brings out your eyes. Did you hear Johnny got an A on his science fair project?”

This week we’re exploring the love language of quality time.

When our girls were small there was a gap of time between when I picked up our oldest daughter Elyse from elementary school and youngest daughter Laura from daycare. So I’d stop at the local donut shop to buy us a snack. We’d munch and drink our milk and Elyse would chatter away about her day. It was much later that I realized how important that time was to Elyse. I thought we were just hanging out, biding our time, but to her, I was speaking her love language. At that time in her life, she needed quality time with mom in order to feel loved.

If you read through the Gospels, you’ll notice Jesus spends a great deal of time expressing love through quality time.

The Walk to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-33                                                   
It’s Easter Sunday. Jesus is dead along with the hopes and dreams of his followers. Now there are rumors his body’s been stolen. Two of the disciples decide they’ve had enough. They’re heading home. On the road, a stranger comes up alongside them. He begins to ask them questions, drawing them out, listening to their heartbreak. Then he begins to share with them the scriptures about the Messiah, how he must suffer and die for the salvation of all. Time passes. It grows dark. The disciples are going to stop for the night and invite the stranger to spend more time with them over a meal. Towards the end of the meal, the stranger takes the bread a breaks it. Their eyes are opened. Their hearts soar. Jesus is alive.

Jesus could have shared the Good News in a much quicker fashion, but he knew spending quality time with these men was the best way for them to hear and receive his love.

The Restoration of Peter, John 21:1-19                 
Peter and a few of the disciples have gone back to fishing after Jesus’ death. Peter’s heartbroken, scared and dealing with all that grief over denying Jesus in his time of need. They fished all night and haven’t caught a thing. As the morning breaks, they notice a guy hanging out on the beach. He calls to them. “Throw your nets on the other side of the boat.” Suddenly there’s a huge catch of fish. They haul it in and he’s still hanging out on the beach. He’s even got breakfast ready for them. Over the course of the meal, Peter’s faith and calling are restored by the risen Lord. “Feed my lambs… Tend my sheep…. Feed my sheep… Do you love me?” Jesus expresses love, forgiveness, and hope. Love as I love Peter. Words of Affirmation. Quality time.

Woman at the Well, John 4:1-43                                                           
In the ancient world, men didn’t speak to women. Rabbis didn’t teach outcasts. Jews and Samaritans were enemies. Yet Jesus takes a radical step to spend quality time with a woman at a well and as a result, her whole village comes to faith.

Mary and Martha, Luke 10:38-42              
The home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was a safe place for Jesus and his followers, a place for great food, rest and conversation. Mary appreciates the gift of quality time. She’s always found listening at Jesus’ feet. Martha, however, is wired differently. Acts of Service may be her love language, but it’s gotten twisted. It’s not about expressing love anymore. She’s trying to be Martha Stewart. Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (vs. 41-42)

Worry and distraction have gotten the best of Martha and Jesus gently talks her back down. Worry and distraction are the enemies of quality time. They steal our joy and our ability to be present to another human being. A loved one is sharing an important feeling, but our mind is far away from worrying about the project that’s due, the bills yet to be paid.

At its heart, quality time is loving someone enough to lay aside the worry and distraction in order to be fully present. The Biblical understanding of quality time is abiding. Drawing near and drawing the other person out.

God doesn’t just show up once in a while, God abides. Presence. Incarnation. God draws near in Jesus’ Christ and draws us out through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God is in it for the long haul, through the good and the bad and the ugly. God desires a deep, intimate relationship with us, a relationship rooted in being present to one another, in quality time.

1 John 4:11-16 is printed on your insert. As I read it, underline the promises of presence and abiding for those who believe.

1 John 4:11-16 NRSV
Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this, we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Quality time often results in quality conversation. Words of affirmation focus on what we are saying whereas quality conversation focuses on what we are hearing.

What does Quality Time look like:

  1. Listening intentionally – eye contact, undivided attention, focused attention

I saw a cartoon recently of a typical family- dad watching TV, mom’s reading, son playing a video game, daughter texting, and the cat watching the fish tank. The caption read “at least we’re all in the same room.” We live in a world of distraction, but it’s also a world that’s increasingly isolated. Quality time is a critical and counter-cultural expression of love.

  1. Asking questions to show interest
  2. Togetherness: spending time doing special things or everyday things

What can you do this week to offer your full attention, your ministry of presence, to someone you love? Eating at a dinner table, taking a walk together, family game night or craft time, doing the dishes together… the possibilities are endless. It’s such a small thing, but so important.

What can you do to offer the same to God, the One who loves you most?

In A Mile in My Shoes, Trevor Hudson says:
Let me describe what it means to be truly present. Being present involves letting go of our constant preoccupations, immersing ourselves in the here and now, and giving ourselves wholeheartedly to whatever is at hand. … It’s about becoming more aware, alert, awake to the fullness of the immediate moment. If we are with another person, it means engaging with him or her with all of our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength. Such wholehearted attention requires patience, time, and disciplined effort. And it is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to those around us, especially our suffering neighbor.

Jesus practiced a ministry of presence and we are commanded to do the same. God’s love shines through and our love shines through when we sit with someone while they grieve, wait with them at the doctor’s office, take someone out for coffee who’s out of work or going through a family crisis.

What would happen to the emotional climate of a household, a workplace, a congregation, a neighborhood if we left behind the distractions and the isolation for being truly present to one another, to loving each other by spending quality time?

Someone once said time is money, recognizing its value in the marketplace.
Time is valuable, but not so much for this reason. Time is valuable because time is love.

Please consider patronizing today’s featured artist, Ashley Goldberg.

Know you are always welcome at our congregation, Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, FL. We worship on Sundays at 8am, 9:20am, and 11am. Dress casual and bring the kids.

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