To Love Another Person Is to See the Face of God
Testimony by Jeff Laveson; introduction by Alice Tawresey
Scripture: Psalm 23
August 11, 2019
Introduction to Jeff Laveson’s Sermon August 11, 2019
One of the principles I live by is this: If it moves, love it.
So, that goes for dogs, grandkids, our son, our daughters, choir member, Dee, Jennifer, All of you congregation members—not necessarily in that order!
To quote John at verse 7, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and whoever loves knows God.
So, I say, where is God? Look around. Lover is here, everywhere, and if we believe that and act on it, that is where we will find God!
The Laveson and the Tawresey families have stuck together through thick and thin. We are friends, our kids grew up together and we care about and for one another.
When I mentioned to Jeff that we were doing this “Where in the World is God” series at EHCC, he suggested that we volunteer. And so we did. Now, here is Jeff Laveson.
“To love another person is to see the face of God.” This is a quote from the book by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables – and the lyrics to the last song in the musical Les Mis. “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
In the late 1980s, Albert Einstein’s daughter donated 14 hundred letters written by Einstein, to Hebrew University, with instructions not to publish their contents until two decades after his death. One of those letters shows a very different side to Einstein’s outlook on the world. I’ve condensed the letter just a bit.
When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world.
There is an extremely powerful force, that so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is behind any phenomenon operating in the universe. This universal force, is LOVE.
When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe, they forgot the most powerful, unseen force. Love is Light that enlightens those who give and receive it. Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others. Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals. For love we live and die. Love is God and God is Love.
This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will.
To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation. If instead of E = mc2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits.
After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy…
If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.
Each individual carries within them a small but powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released.
When we learn to give and receive this universal energy, dear daughter, we will have affirmed that love conquers all, is able to transcend everything and anything, because love is the quintessence of life.
I deeply regret not having been able to express what is in my heart, which has quietly beaten for you all my life. Maybe it’s too late to apologize, but as time is relative, I need to tell you that I love you and thanks to you I have reached the ultimate answer!
As you may know, Einstein was Jewish. Growing up as a Jew myself, and then becoming a Christian as an adult, I found it fascinating that Einstein would have this insight into love. Of course he was a genius, so why wouldn’t he?
I often wondered, how did God, as the creator of all existence, actually accomplished creation. Is this just one of those mysteries completely beyond our understanding?
Einstein recognizes something very important about energy – God, as the creator, is the source of energy, and this phenomenon – energy – is the essence of love. Love itself IS the energy. This energy, this love, is the essential force by which everything exists. At the most basic sub-atomic level, love is the energy by which everything in the universe can and does exist.
Love can be observed by simply observing everything that exists. Einstein was able to define it in an equation, yet he still recognized that love is the undefinable truth that supports all of creation.
In contemplating love as the foundation by which everything exists, the door is open to understanding the Christian message in a new, mystical way.
In the religious world that Einstein grew up in, the same world I grew up in – Judaism – the idea of Love was focused mostly on loving God.
In Judaism, the cornerstone of the liturgy is a prayer called the S’hema, perhaps the counterpart to the Christian Lord’s Prayer. The S’hema is recited at every Jewish service. It is the last prayer that is spoken from the lips before death.
Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Eḥad
Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One.
The prayer goes on:
And though shall love the Lord they God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
The main focus of this love is clearly directed at God.
In the 10 Commandments the first five commandments focus on loving God:
I am the LORD thy God
Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images or likenesses
Thou shall not take the LORD’s name in vain
Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
The last 5 commandments provide a set of rule by which we are to be obedient to show our love of God
Honour thy father and thy mother
Thou shalt not kill
. . . nor commit adultery
. . . nor steal
. . . nor bear false witness
. . . nor covet things that belong to others.
When Jesus comes along, the Ten Commandments are fulfilled in a new commandment – Jesus’ Great Commandment:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Jesus asks us to:
Love one another, as I have loved you.
A daunting task – something to strive for. To love as Jesus loves. To love each other, as Jesus loves each of us. I’m still working on that!
It becomes apparent that loving God and loving each other are in fact the same thing. Two sides of the same coin. Two perspectives of the same truth.
If we strive to love each other as God loves us, everything else falls into place. By loving each other, we love and honor God as he has asked us to do. It is only by loving each other, that we become closer to God. Without loving, Corinthians 13 tells us we are a resounding gong, a clanging cymbal. We are nothing –and gain nothing.
What does it mean, then, to love each other, as we are loved by God? Let me suggest three things. It’s like a top ten list –only there are just three.
We love each other through compassion; we love each other through forgiveness, and we love each other through unselfishness. Compassion for our sisters and brothers when they need our kindness and understanding. Forgiving others when they need our forgiveness – without regard to whether or not it is deserved. And unconditional, unselfish love, putting the needs of others before our own needs.
According to Einstein, love is infused in all creation. Love is the energy that supports all that exists. And love is the undefinable truth by which each of us are bound together with each other, and with God.
As Einstein explained to his daughter, each of us carries within them a powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released. This supply of love, a gift from God, has no limit. The supply is endless – because it comes from God. When we give and receive this universal energy, we affirm that love conquers all; love transcends everything and anything, because love is the essence of life. Without love, life has no meaning.
The most important thing we can do in our earthly journey, is to make others feel loved.
And so, the song in Les Mis end (with Valjean singing to his daughter Cosette):
Take my hand, and lead me to salvation
Take my love, for love is everlasting
And remember the truth that once was spoken
To love another person is to see the face of God!
Let us bless each other, always, by making each other feel loved.