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When Necessary, Repeat - By Pastor Thomas Engel


What’s you favorite song, and how many times have you heard it through the years?

One of my favorites is Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia.” When I hear that song once, I want to play it back again right away.

Have you’ve seen your favorite movie so many times that you can act out every scene?

What’s your favorite dessert? Can you imagine ever getting tired of of it, even if you had it every day?

I think I can eat my favorite cookies, white chocolate with macadamia nuts, every day: morning, noon, and night.

I don’t think I could ever get tired of eating any kind of cookie, since I’m pretty much sure that I’m part cookie monster.

A lot of life is repeating things. It’s about a daily grind. It’s about doing the same old same old. It’s that old joke: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, and more practice.”

Yea, doing those same old things can get dull, but those same old things can add up to things that are quite remarkable.

Practicing hours and hours, the concert pianist gives an outstanding performance at Carnegie Hall.

Kicking football after football, the place kicker wins the championship by kicking a field goal in the last seconds of a tied game, and he’s carried off the field.

Studying day after day, month after month, the high school student gets the high grade point average that earns a scholarship.

Going to interview after interview, the college graduate gets her dream job.

Doing laundry, washing dishes, shopping for groceries, and mopping floors, those chores make for a secure family life in a comfy, cozy home of deep care.

Work, work, work! It never seems to end, but it does get us somewhere ahead.

We get the the deepest philosophy of life from the back label of a shampoo bottle, “When necessary, repeat.”

Having a sister and a niece who are both hair stylists, I’ve been meaning to ask them just how do I know when it is necessary to repeat shampooing my hair?

Today, I want to make the case that some things in life are always necessary to repeat, and I will also try to convince you that there are other things in life that you should not even be doing even once.

Let me start with the things that we should not be doing even once.

In typical pastor style when trying to make a point in a sermon, I will look at those things in a roundabout way.

Going back to 1970, a big hit movie was “Love Story.” Remember how it was about a boy and girl from different backgrounds who fall in love, but they meet tragedy.

I won’t tell the details of the movie to refresh your memories too much in case you want to go back and see it.

I’m sure you remember the movie’s theme song, and I will spare you my humming of the popular melody, but I will tell you the line that was the talk for the rest of the seventies, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”

Well, you know me, and I hope you don’t mind too much, but I’m going to super analyze this statement and probably ruin all the romance that’s in it.

In a sense, I do agree that “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”

When we love a person, we should be doing all that we can to be showing love to that person.

We should never do anything or say anything that hurts another person.

Taking the theme for today and applying it to loving one another, we are to show love when it’s necessary.

So, we can be asking, “When is it necessary to be showing love in our relationships, not in just our romantic ones but in all of our relationships?”

Love comes in many types. There’s tons of books about these types, but, for now, we will say we show the type of love when it’s necessary.

We show love, and after we show love, we repeat by showing more love.

Love, love, love. It never ends, and giving love all the time will definitely build strong, happy relationships.

So, when it comes to building strong, happy relationships, I think we can all agree that giving love is always necessary.

Do we ever have an end to showing love?

Nope, we always are repeating our showing of love.

Our conclusion is that love makes the world go around. Right?

Okay, we got that settled about love.

Well, I did say that I do agree only in a sense that “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”

In another sense, we have to deal with reality. We have to deal with the hard truth of ourselves, life, and the world.

Please be patient with me here. I promise that all will turn out, but I’m going to change the wording of that line in the movie to something that fits more of how we are, how life is, and how the world is.

My version is, “Love is admitting the times when we don’t show love, and when we have hurt another by not showing love, we can say, “I’m sorry.’”

As you can see, I’m not a romance writer. My version is a little wordy, and it would never make it as a line in a romantic movie, but I think it fits better with our realities.

I know I’m ruining the idea of perfect love, but to support my version of that line that admits we can, have, and will hurt another, I can use some theology.

To get right to it, and it’s best that I’m rather quick and blunt about it.

The theology is that we are not perfect people. We can even say we are far from perfect people, and, in our imperfection, we don’t always show the love to each other as we should.

At first, it might sound like a strange idea to put in our minds when it comes to the subject of love that we are not so perfect.

The theological word for a not so perfect person is sinner.

As a matter of fact, sinners are not capable of showing any kind of true love.

That we are full of so much sin is a hard truth to admit, but, by acknowledging the problem starts us to a way to the solution.

The problem of sin has been around since the first humans had fallen into sin.

After their fall into sin, they hid from God in shame and fear, and one blamed the other for their problems.

Not any of this was good for strong, happy relationship building.

To say, sin and the broken relationships caused by sin was not in God’s plan for people. God didn’t want us to be sorry about anything that we did wrong because we were made not to do anything wrong .

God made the first humans to be perfectly good in everything, and if anything, they were to be perfectly good at showing love to each other.

One more time with some theology, the first humans fell into sin, and now we have sin from generation to generation.

But, as bad as news sin is, the first humans and we, too, have a way to a solution.

Each of us can say as we did here a few minutes ago, “I’m sorry for my sins in thought, word, and deed.”

After our confession, we hear of God’s forgiveness for those sins, and we can move forward knowing that we are renewed to do better.

Here, in Lent we especially look at ourselves, and we go deep into how we are doing in thought, word and deed.

In our self-examination, it’s not that we should be coming up with this long list of things that we are to be sorry about.

If we are keeping on top of things by thinking that God intended us to be perfectly good, our list of “I’m sorries” should be rather short.

Although we are sinners, sin does not need to dominate us.

Also, given that God forgives us out of His mercy and grace, and how that same mercy and grace goes with the renewal of ourselves, it’s very possible for us to give love to one another.

We can love one one another as God has loved us by His mercy and grace in Christ.

Granted, we are not perfect and never will be as long as we are walking on this planet, so we will have to say, at times, “I’m sorry that I’ve hurt you.”

But, how about we go towards that sense of the line of a perfect love, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry?”

Now, for the world’s quickest Bible study:

The Gospel reading today has Jesus going towards to Jerusalem, so he can fulfill his mission to die on the cross where he will take the punishment for the world’s sins.

He is warned not to go there because trouble is waiting for him there, both by Herod and also the Jewish leaders.

Jesus says he will go anyway. Nothing can stop him from his doing what he has come to do.

Why is Jesus taking on himself such a heavy burden of others on himself?

Only one answer, it’s love, a perfect love that comes from his Father.

For God so loved the world that He sent His only son to die for the world, so all who believe may have eternal life.

My theme, “When necessary, repeat,” does come from the back label of shampoo bottles, but I got that idea from where Jesus says, “Over and over again.”

Although Jesus faced opposition, he went to Jerusalem to fulfill his mission, and he will keep repeating giving love to the world, even to those who are against him.

Jesus has a perfect love, and it’s this perfect love that makes the world go around.

Looking at the world, it does not seem that there is too much love now.

I’m not sure what we can do for the world but pray for it.

We can have comfort that this world that God created by His love, saved by His mercy and grace in Christ, and loves in a perfect way in that same Christ Jesus is taking care of it according to the plans that He has for it.

Those plans are way beyond our understanding, but knowing God only has perfect love, we trust them.

I know we feel like we need to be doing something, and that’s good. Although I’m still not to sure what we can do sitting here so far away.

So, how about this in our time and our place?

You are sitting here with people all around you in this church.

Probably, you are sitting next to a person whom you have a close relationship with.

How about if you say to that person and that person says to you, “I’m going to love you when necessary, and it’s always necessary.”

And you both say to each other, “I’m going to keep repeating that love. Yes, nothing but true love over and over again.”

And you mean when you are talking about showing love that it’s the same perfect love that God the Father loves you in Christ.

Imagine a relationship that shows nothing but the love of Christ all the time.

It can be only a strong, happy relationship.

It’s so very possible our relationships here can be that way.

Imagine a world that had nothing to be sorry for.

Imagine a world that shows nothing but the love of Christ Jesus.

It’s so very possible that the world can have this love, for that is why Jesus came.

This love in Christ Jesus can be what keeps this world turning around, so let this love in Christ Jesus be our hope and prayer as it’s so necessary now and needs so much to be repeated over and over again now.