So Loved

By Ryan Sanders
In Formed
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Lovers always want to measure love. Have you noticed?

In one of the world’s most famous poems about love, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

Browning was literally tallying up her love, measuring it by depth and breadth and height.

And she’s not alone. In what is probably the most famous love story of all time, William Shakespeare gave Juliet Capulet these lines:

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,

My love as deep; the more I give to thee,

The more I have, for both are infinite.

Even infinity is an attempt to quantify love.

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably attempted some measure of your love for your kids like,

“I love you to the moon and back.”

In a bit less refined vein, I often tell my wife, “I love the crap outta you!”

All of these expressions represent some effort to measure love, to say “I love you more.” When you love someone, you want to express it.

God knows that impulse. He loves his children very much. But instead of a sonnet or a catchphrase, he wrote his “I love you more” message in history. He sent his son, himself, to be born to a mother who would love him and a world who would hate him. He loved us enough to come near to us. That’s what we celebrate at Advent: the love of God which defies measure.

Over the next four Sundays and Christmas Eve, IBC will celebrate that love with a sermon series titled So Loved that examines God’s love from four different perspectives: Simeon, the Bethlehem shepherds, Mary, and Anna. And after five sermons and dozens of worship songs, what I expect us to discover is that we can only glimpse a tiny corner of God’s limitless love. Or in the words of one of my favorite hymns (which I hope we sing this Advent — hint, hint, Crystal!):

Could we with ink the ocean fill

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky.




This Advent, I hope you’ll join us for worship, either in person or online. And I hope the love of God seems vast and bottomless to you, stretched from sky to sky. I hope the familiar story about scruffy shepherds and curious magis and an unplanned pregnancy sounds like a sonnet to you and overwhelms you with the renewed realization that you are…


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