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       Sermons | Passionate worship

      This sermon was preached by the Rev. Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

      Dec. 15, 2019 | Third Sunday of Advent

      The Greatest Love
      Hosea 3

       T HIS MONTH we’re looking at the Old Testament prophet Hosea and how his life, teachings, and warnings speak to us as we approach Christmas. Hosea uses a variety of examples to demonstrate the relationship between God and humanity. Last week was a loving, caring parent and a wayward child.

      Today we go back to an example from chapter 1. A loving, faithful spouse and a wandering, unfaithful spouse. God tells Hosea to “Show love to your wife.” You see, Hosea’s wife, Gomer, is involved in a promiscuous lifestyle. It’s not clear exactly what her life involves. This action symbolizes God’s love for Israel even after Israel turned from God to love, follow, worship other gods, false gods.

      To show the people God’s ongoing love and commitment for them, Hosea tracks down Gomer and buys her back. Is she caught up in human trafficking? Does she work under a pimp? Is she providing sexual favors to pay off a debt?

      We don’t know. What we do know is that Hosea loves her and frees her from this life. Hosea wraps her in his loving embrace and returns her to safety of his home.

       † † † 

      WE ARE OFTEN like Gomer, like Israel. Wandering. Wayward. Promiscuous. Worshiping other things instead of God. Now, you might think because of this God will not and cannot possibly love you. But he does.

      You fight voices that say you’re not enough. God says, “I love you.” You don’t feel loved, but God loves you. You are weak but God, in love, supports you. You are falling apart. God’s love holds you together. You say you don’t belong in worship. God says you belong to him.

      You say you don’t love yourself; how can God possibly love you. God says, “I can. And I do.”

       † † † 

      CHRISTMAS IS QUICKLY COMING. And in the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem we see a costly demonstration of God’s love.

      God comes to us in the fragility of a baby to bring us to the safety of life in him. God comes to us through his Son, Jesus, to free us.

      God comes to us and welcomes us with a loving embrace.

      You are loved. With expansive, costly love. You are loved to brothels and back. You are loved to the moon and back. You are loved from the manger to the cross — and back.

       † † † 

      FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his Son. For you. For me. For all of us.

      Thanks be to God.


      — Keith Cardwell   

      «You are loved from the manger to the cross — and back.»


      ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:

      Hosea 3
      Holy Bible, New International Version

      Hosea’s reconciliation with his wife
      The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

      2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels[a] of silver and about a homer and a lethek[b] of barley. 3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”

      4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.

      — This is the Word of the Lord.
      — Thanks be to God.


      a.  Hosea 3:2  That is, about 6 ounces or about 170 grams.
      b.  Hosea 3:2  A homer and a lethek possibly weighed about 430 pounds or about 195 kilograms.

      ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:

      Luke 2:1–20
      Holy Bible, New International Version

      The birth of Jesus
      In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

      4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

      8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

      13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

      14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
          and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

      15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

      16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

      — This is the Word of the Lord.
      — Thanks be to God.


      a.  Hosea 3:2  That is, about 6 ounces or about 170 grams.

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