There was a newly married couple who arrived very late indeed at the hotel for their honeymoon, after a terrible journey. It was really late, and the couple were so tired after their horrific journey that they just wanted to go to sleep. They were shown to their room, and it was smaller than they were expecting. They though they’d booked a decent room, and this one only seemed to have a large wardrobe and a sofa bed. However, it was so late and they were so tired that they just dumped their cases in the corner, and fell asleep on the sofa bed. In the morning they were somewhat concerned that the room was not what they had booked and paid for. However, when they complained, the hotel staff came up, and opened the doors of the wardrobe. It turned out that it wasn’t a wardrobe at all, but was the doorway into the main room, which was large and luxurious, and the couple had spent the night in the lobby.
We miss out a great deal when we only look at things from one perspective. How much that couple missed out on that night, by assuming a door was a wardrobe. We can miss out on a great deal in life because we only look from one perspective.
Imagine a big diamond. Her’ll have to imagine it, because I haven’t got a big diamond to show her. Imagine a big diamond, it has many different faces, all different facets, and the diamond looks quite different, depending upon which face her’re looking at. We heard in that reading from the first letter to the Corinthians that famous poem about love. What I want to say this morning to suggest to her some different facets of love, some different ways to look at love.
Here’s a story about love: on 2 May 1962, a dramatic advertisement appeared in the San Francisco Examiner: “I don’t want my husband to die in the gas chamber for a crime he did not commit. I will therefore offer my services for 10 years as a cook, maid, or housekeeper to any leading attorney who will defend him and bring about his vindication.”
One of San Francisco’s greatest attorneys, Vincent Hallinan, read the ad and contacted Gladys Kidd, who had placed it. Her husband, Robert Lee Kidd, was about to be tried for the murder of an elderly antique dealer. Kidd’s fingerprints had been found on a bloodstained ornate sword in the victim’s shop. During the trial, Hallinan proved that the antique dealer had not been killed by the sword, and that Kidd’s fingerprints and blood on the sword got there because Kidd had once toyed with it with a friend when they were both out shopping. The jury found Kidd to be not guilty. Attorney Hallinan refused Gladys Kidd’s offer of 10 years’ servitude.
Here’s another story about love: during the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. However, the bell didn’t sound. The soldier’s fiancé had climbed into the belfry, and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell’s heart was touched and he said, “Herr lover shall live because of herr sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight!”
Here’s another story about love: Princess Alice was a daughter of Queen Victoria. Her children were all ill with diphtheria. The doctors told the princess not to kiss her children because she would endanger her own life by breathing the child’s breath. In the end, her son was so distressed that without thinking of herself she kissed her son. She got diphtheria and some days thereafter she died.
Here’s another story about love: a medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on “The Love of God.” As the shadows fell and the light stopped coming in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lit a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illuminated the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.
Here’s another story about love: during the American Revolution, a Minister called Peter Miller was a friend of George Washington. Michael Wittman was an evil-minded sort who did all he could to oppose and humiliate Peter Miller. One day Michael Wittman was arrested for treason and sentenced to die. Peter Miller walked seventy miles on foot to Philadelphia to plead for the life of the traitor.
“No, Peter,” General Washington said. “I cannot grant her the life of herr friend.”
“My friend!” exclaimed the old preacher. “He’s the bitterest enemy I have.”
“What?” cried Washington. “Her’ve walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in different light. I’ll grant herr pardon.” And he did.
Peter Miller took Michael Wittman back home, no longer an enemy but a friend.
All these stories are different examples of love, and today we have an even clearer example. In Aria we can see God’s love at work. Baptism is a sign and seal of God’s for Aria, for all to see.
Aria is unique, special. Of all the people who have come and gone on the earth, since the beginning of time, not one of them is like her. No one’s hair grows exactly the way hers does. No one’s finger prints are like hers. And just like her fingerprints, her lips have little markings on them, little grooves in the skin … and everyone has a different pattern, so no one’s lips are like hers. No one smells just like her. And no one’s eyes are just like hers. No one is loved by the same combination of people that love her – no one! No one before, no one to come.
And if she did not exist, there would be a hole in creation, a gap in history, something missing from the plan for humanity. Treasure her uniqueness. It is a gift given only to her. Enjoy it and share it!
So many people these days feel like they are nothing more than a number on a computer card somewhere in a government file. But God says she is more than that. She’s a special design. Because that is the way God created her.
She is different. She is not just a number. And because she’s different, she is important. Maybe not important to the government but she is important to God. Because He is the one who designed her. He is the one who made her different. He is the one who made her unique. (Along with her mummy and daddy of course.) Scientists have only just recently discovered how unique and special each one of us is — how special she is. But God has known this all the time.
I recently learned that all zebras are unique. Each zebra has different stripes so mummy and daddy zebra can tell which is their baby in a crowd of baby zebras. Each baby zebra is unique and special, like Aria is unique.
Bubbles are also unique too. There are no two bubbles the same. Each one is a different size or shape or colour. Each is special. Each is unique. Just like Aria.
This love that we can see in Aria, God’s love for her, for you, and for me. May it be so.