For God so loved the world…
For some, when reading the above words, find that your minds (and perhaps even your lips) keep reciting the rest of this most famous verse from John, the beloved gospel writer who is quite thankfully least like the other three. The words come from John 3:16. It was one of our Gospel readings assigned for Lent in church a few weeks ago.
I said in that sermon that one of the biggest challenges to understanding its meaning is how familiar it is to us. It is a good exercise to return to those articles of faith that are familiar. It can be very comforting and healing. Looking at the familiar—be it a passage of Scripture or a routine or a person or even our faith—with fresh eyes and an open heart is a very good discipline indeed.
We are not alone when we seek a new and improved understanding. Our God is a God committed to creating and re-creating! God delights in making all things new, as the Bible attests. Here are a couple of great chapters to use for devotions, as you consider the desire of God to heal and mend and make new: Isaiah 43 and Revelation 21.
There are countless examples of God being in the new-making business. We don’t have to look very far in Scripture and in our own lives as well. And, as I write this, we have just entered into Holy Week…a dark and disappointing week that exposes all human frailties and failings, betrayals and denials. Can you identify yourself and our world in the pain of this week we call holy?
And yet, much of the world takes hold of John’s words…wanting them to be true, to become true for us, in us, through us…that God so loved the world. SO LOVES THE WORLD. Not just some things, not just some people, not just some… but all. And not just some abstract all, but the whole world as in “each and every.” Each person, each plant, each animal, each grain of sand, each space dust particle, and each droplet of water-- every relationship, idea, conversation, opportunity, joy, struggle. This beautifully diverse world is the very one God created and loves still.
God so loved the world, that he sent his dearest relationship (his son) to make it new and promise it for all eternity to all!
Amazing love that this God loves me and offers up everything for me! For you! Yes you! And we get this, don’t we? That God doesn’t just love me and my type—but God loves and cares for all…all creatures, all lives, all creation. There is a sacredness, a holiness, in all that God created. And it is God’s intention to make it new!
My prayer is that each one of us--me and you…our neighbor…a hurting friend…that hurtful relative…your protective parent…each pompous political partisan…every weary citizen…each worn-out saint and strung-out sinner, the one who never seems to get a fair shake and those ones who squander every lucky break—that each beloved one of us might be given the flicker of hope this Easter, that God is still up to something in each of us and will not stop until we all are created anew! Amen!
- Pastor Cara