Just An Old Fashioned Love Song/Truly, Madly, Deeply – a sermon for Transfiguration Sunday, Mark 9:2-9

Audio only version here

Are you all ready for Valentine’s Day? I am. I have to be ready because this year Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday. There are all sorts of other things vying for my attention on Ash Wednesday.    So, my love and I will celebrate Valentine’s Day on Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday, and pancakes lends itself more easily to being transformed into Valentine’s Day than Ash Wednesday does with talk about remembering that we are dust and to dust we shall return.

My preparations for Valentine’s Day have me thinking about love songs. A few years back, when Peter Rollins was here, he suggested that we needed to employ more love songs in worship. I think that’s why every time I tried to write today’s sermon, I’ve been plagued by an ear worm. I haven’t been able to get this song out of my head, so rather than fight it any longer, I want to share my ear worm with you. It’s an old song, an “Old Fashioned LOVE Song,” that I first heard playing on the radio, back in 1975. Anybody remember the group Three Dog Night?  Listen to my ear worm:  Just an Old Fashioned Love Song.

That old fashioned love song was playing in my head every time I tried to climb up onto the mountaintop with Jesus. Each time I ventured into the anonymous gospel storyteller that we call Mark’s vision of Jesus on the mountaintop, I heard the electric guitars of Three Dog Night. Those old cords summoned up the year 1975, the year that I graduated from high school. I was just 17 years old. I had precious little idea who I was when I was 17, I knew even less about what love is, but I sure thought I knew who Jesus was. I was hopelessly in love with Jesus. And even though I can’t carry a tune, I sang all sorts of love songs to Jesus. One of those love songs, I bet you all remember.

            I come to the garden alone,

            While the dew is still on the roses,

            And the voice I hear falling on my ear

            The Son of God discloses.

            And He walks with me,

            and He talks with me,

            And He tells me I am His own;

            And the joy we share as we tarry there,

            None other has ever known.

            He speaks, and the sound of His voice

            Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,

            And the melody that He gave to me

            Within my heart is ringing.

            And He walks with me,

            and He talks with me,

            And He tells me I am His own;

            And the joy we share as we tarry there,

            None other has ever known.

            I’d stay in the garden with Him,

            Though the night around me be falling,

            But He bids me go; through the voice of woe

            His voice to me is calling.

            And He walks with me,

            and He talks with me,

            And He tells me I am His own;

            And the joy we share as we tarry there,

            None other has ever known.

Now that’s what I call an old-fashioned love song. I can’t tell you how often I sang this love song to my beloved Jesus. Nor can I tell you how much my beloved Jesus has changed over the years. That naïve 17-year-old girl who sang it way back when, well she may not have known who she was, but she was absolutely sure who Jesus was. But the Jesus that she was so sure that she knew is a far cry from the Jesus she knows today. I think have a better idea about who I am today, and I suspect that I have a much better idea about who Jesus is. But I know that who I am today, is not who I will be in the years to come and I trust that who Jesus is will continue to change. Lovers always do. Think about the one with whom you share the deepest of intimacies. Think about how it was when you first became intimate with one another. Now think about the intimacy you share today. That quality of the intimacy has changed. As love grows deeper, fuller, we are blessed with new ways of seeing, of knowing, of touching, of loving. Continue reading