Christ Episcopal Church
The Mother Church of The Dakotas
Some years ago, I was back at my alma mater, Virginia Theological Seminary for the Annual Convocation. The guest preacher and speaker was the internationally known and beloved, Anglican Bishop, Desmond Tutu. Although not a large man, quite short actually, his presence and countenance filled the auditorium! He prefaced his sermon be saying, with a big smile on his face, that all his sermons say the same thing! “We are not good because we love God, we are good because God loves us! His words are much more than a nice turn-of-phrase, but are, I think, a distillation of the whole of Scripture. Beginning with the ancient text of Genesis that begins by saying that God created the world with all its life and “saw that it was good” (Genesis, chapter 1) to the Gospel of John that proclaims, “For God so loved the world…” Later in John’s gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”
What happens when we and the church with all its denominations, emphasize the “we are good because we love God” part, all types of misunderstandings, unhappiness, discord and fear may arise. When we make mistakes, sin or let ourselves or others down, it is too easy for people of faith to think that God loves us less somehow. We forget that there is nothing we can do to make God love us anymore and nothing we can do to make God love us any less. Discord arises when we (and the various denominations and religions) insist on believing their way…as it is “the right” way. Who is to say!?
One thing that Christians and many non-Christians can agree on is that Jesus lived a life of love. His life and teachings radiated innumerable expressions of love. His life of compassion is one such expression as are his ways of forgiving, kindness, and peace….and on and on. We do well, dear God’s beloved ones, to practice (and practice and practice…) his ways of love during this blessed Easter season and beyond. The lesson from 1 John 4: 18 gives us a standard to see how our practice is going – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
I say, let us pray for and practice “perfect love”…why lower the bar to anything less?...and in our successes and our so called failures, God loves us forever and ever. Amen.
Christ Episcopal Church 517 Douglas Avenue Yankton, SD 57078 605.665.2456