It's about something much bigger than one man's earnest examination of the merits of hopeful universalism (a concept I first heard espoused, by the way, in a conservative Christian college): the all-consuming, all-surpassing, all-encompassing love of God.
God made us. He loves us. He LOVES us. Unconditionally, and in a way that defies human preconceptions and stereotypes. His love is so big, so embracing, and so foundational to who he is as our Creator-Father that it's almost too easy to take for granted.
Which is where the music comes in.
Lately, Brit and I have come to to more fully understand/grasp/appreciate God's love through three specific songs, written in three completely different styles, more than one thousand years apart.
The first is Frederick Lehman's The Love of God, an early-20th century adaptation of a poem written by Rabbi Mayer in 1096. The lines of its epic third stanza are so true, and so movingly beautiful!
"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 oceans dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky."
The second song that's been teaching us about God's love for us (especially during this Lenten season) is Stuart Townend's "modern hymn," How Deep the Father's Love for Us. This is one of Brittany's all-time favorite songs, and one that always reminds us both of the Good Friday Service of Shadows at OKC 1st Church of the Nazarene. The first and last stanzas are our favorites, and the ones that stick in our minds (and throats) every time we sing them:
"How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure,
That he would give his only Son, to make a wretch his treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns his face away,
As wounds which mar the chosen one bring many sons to glory...
Why should I gain from his reward? I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart: his wounds have paid my ransom.
The third song that continues to shape our understanding of our relationship with a loving God is John Mark McMillan's How He Loves. It's another song we first heard at OKC 1st, and have since introduced to the congregations we worshipped with in Stillwater, OK and now here in Poznań. The pre-chorus and chorus just blow us away...and they sum up God's desire for relationship with us so perfectly:
"And oh...HOW he loves us SO!
Oh, how he LOVES us...HOW he loves us SO!!
Yeah he LOVES us, whoa how he LOVES us
Whoa how he LOVES us, whoa how he LOVES!!"
God's love for us is so amazing, so pursuing, and so unconditional that we can scarcely grasp it. God -the Master and Creator of the entire universe- loves us. He LOVES us! And so every day, we pray for the grace and perspective to understand, embrace, reflect, and live out our Father's radical love for us a little more.