Ginger Blake, Altar Guild and 9 am Worship Team, March 8, 2020
This Sunday’s Scripture reading:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved.” John 3:16-17 (KJV)
It was one of the first verses I learned in Sunday School, maybe at 5 or 6 years old and in the King James version in those days at my Baptist church. I think of our dear Richard Scalera–he always preferred the King James version, perhaps because he grew up with it, too. In whichever version, we have all heard and seen it innumerable times; at church, but also at football stadiums, on billboards and elsewhere. So much so are we really hearing it anymore?
That God, our creator, loved us all so much, even in our broken and rebellious state, that he sacrificed his beloved son, his most prized possession, a part of Himself, to save us; not to condemn us.
Let’s bask in that love, but then what? How do we respond? Jesus gives us lots of instruction: love God, love your neighbor, love your enemies, turn the other cheek, give away your possessions. But how and where do we begin? Much of this is impossible for us to do and in our current political climate even more so. I find myself often engulfed in anger, wanting to strike back in some way and I can’t seem to find a way to counter the anger and the need to be vindicated.
Recently I picked up “ The Power Of Love” a small book of sermons and talks by Bishop Michael Curry, our current presiding bishop, and found enormous help.
Abiding in Jesus, or as he says “throwing yourself in the arms of Jesus” is the way above the noise of the world; the way of Love, the way of Jesus. Making the loving choice, the respectful choice, the generous choice, instead of the hateful or mean-spirited one. We don’t do this alone; we do it with God’s help. And we don’t do it all of a sudden; it takes practice. We do this by turning to God in prayer every day; spending time with the Lord in scripture; meditating on the life and teachings of Jesus, as Dr. King suggested his followers do. Living with Jesus.
While we aren’t likely to be asked to sacrifice ourselves or turn water into wine, there will be lots of small everyday opportunities, helping an elderly friend, working on a Habitat house, or sending an encouraging word. For Richard’s memorial, I asked people to bring food contributions for the reception. What we received was a veritable loaves and fishes worth of cakes and cookies and other treats. We came together in love to honor one of our brothers and experienced the abundance that God promises us.
We make a difference in our world with every generous action, every loving word, however small, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. And for me, to continue to abide with Jesus, I will need to spend more time in His company: in prayer, with His words and with His children.
This will be my Lenten practice.