The St. Ann Lay Preaching team have been giving reflections during our Zoom services, and some Masses, during Lent. Here is Dianne’s reflection for the 4th Sunday of Lent:
4th Sunday of Lent Reflection
This morning I want to share with you the greatest story ever told. God’s love story. A story of extravagant, tenacious unrelenting love. We will find it all in just one verse with 25 words.
When I was growing up in the baptist church, about this time of the year our youth group would start talking about summer bible camp. One of the ways we could earn our way to camp was to memorize bible verses. Over the years I probably memorized and recited 100’s verses most of which I can’t remember but I can recite the first one I ever memorized. Most of you can recite it with me.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God’s love story begins with loving the world.
I believe God loves what God has made. God loves the universe; the cosmos and plants and animals, mountains and fishing streams and oceans and deserts and prairies and forests.
God loves art and music, poetry and drama, great cities and little villages. God loves technology and science and medicine. God loves civilization and culture and society. It is not always good. It is not always what it should be, but it is still loved by God. And God loves the process by which it becomes something new and better, the progress of the ages. God loves culture in the same way that he loves us. We are loved as we are, but we are supposed to change and grow.
Again and again we go to God to learn grow in love
I believe God sent his only son, Jesus to show us what God is like, and to teach us what God expects from us, to show us grace and mercy and how to love. This is the gift of God’s presence among us. Jesus died because his perfect faithfulness collided with our human sin. He was faithful, even unto death. He gave up his life rather than deny who he was or to whom he belonged.
Again and again we go to God to show us unconditional love.
I believe God does not want us to perish but want us to have eternal life.
Eternal life is the gift which Jesus offers to us. We can choose to live the abundant life which God offers us and live, from now on, in the unending presence of God.
The alternative is to continue to live our old lives. The offer holds within it an element of self-judgment. We have to decide where we stand. In our choosing, we determine our own experience with God. Ether way God loves us.
God is saving the world. The whole world because God loves the world. Nowhere do we see this more vividly than in today’s gospel. God’s love will not stop pursuing his people. It’s the kind of love we all long for and desperately need. It has the power to conquer our wayward hearts and cause us to fall more deeply in love with God where our hands hold back.