The Why and How of God’s love

If you were lucky, you caught the interview of Yo-Yo Ma by Krista Tippett.  You’re still lucky because here is a link.

I listened to this on my way to supply for a neighboring church while their priest was on vacation.

I had to scrap my original sermon and go with this [note, I don’t preach from manuscripts, so this has been paired down for blogging purposes].

“Yo-Yo Ma was born to Chinese parents in Paris.  He moved to the US as a young child.  His mother was Protestant and his dad Buddhist-ish .  Yo-yo says this made him, “basically Episcopalian.”  Given the cultural, language and religious mix of his younger years, he said that when he grew up he wanted to be “One who Understands.”

This struck a chord with me, as aren’t we all desiring to be “one who understands”?

Why are we here. Why do people do what they do, why do we do what we do and why does God do what God does.  Why, why, why to grasp further understanding.

Sadly for Yo-yo Ma and for us, the why is ever elusive. And personally, the moment it stops being fun to ponder, it becomes a waste of time.  Honestly.  I’m not all that interested in the why.


I am, however, deeply interested in the how. How are we to be? How are we to live?



It was wonderful to ponder this on a foggy early Sunday morning drive. Especially in light of the Gospel for that Sunday: the parable of the prodigal son.

Both sons, older and younger, were firmly entrenched in the why. Why are we here if not for our own pleasure? lives the younger son. Why forgive those who have done wrong? Believes the older.

But the father lives in the how. How to live? In compassion and love. How to love? With abandon, knowing that compassion and love are never depleted when they are employed; it is through exercising compassion and love that they abound and grow.

And I think this is true of God’s love.  God’s love is infinite.  There isn’t just so much of it, so you better be on your best behavior so you get some.

Rather, God’s love knows no ceasing.  And I think that one (one!) way IMG_4011 [196089]that we experience the love of God is by exercising the compassion and love we contain within ourselves. Which is hard.

Yes. Loving is hard. It’s hard in marriage, in friendship, in domestic and international political relationships, and even in the church.

And because loving is so difficult between us humans, it can be difficult to trust that God can love so easily. That God is like the father in the parable, who waits day after day to catch a glimpse of us at the horizon. Who runs to meet us. Who gathers us in God’s embrace before we can even open out mouth to ask for God’s love.

Perhaps it is time to let go of the why and time to start experiencing the how.

Because in our efforts to share with others compassion and love, I believe we will more easily experience and trust the love of that God of ours.



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