“God Loved the World” (ELW 323)
1 God loved the world so that he gave
his only Son the lost to save,
that all who would in Him believe
should everlasting life receive.
2 Christ Jesus is the ground of faith,
who was made flesh and suffered death;
all who confide in Christ alone
are built on this chief cornerstone.
3 If you are ill, if death draws near,
this truth your troubled heart can cheer:
Christ Jesus rescues us from death;
that is the firmest ground of faith.
4 Be of good cheer, for God’s own Son
forgives all sins that you have done,
and justified by Jesus’ blood,
your baptism grants the highest good.
5 All glory to the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To you, O blessed Trinity,
be praise now and eternally!
I have such great hopes for the church! Do you? It’s not just wishful dreamy stuff. It’s recognizing that God’s people have endured contentious elections, pandemics, and organizational decline before. None of this is new, but challenging times call us to an honest paring of the parts of ourselves that might tempt us to prefer coffee hour with our friends to investing in a neighborhood.
I love my new neighbors. They represent the fullness of God’s people in all of who they are. These Angelenos are like your neighbors too, with hopes, and hurts, and hearts. Wildfire smoke keeps us inside. Inequality keeps us inside. But my courageous neighbors come out and offer words of welcome. In Jesus’ name, we have something to offer too, as this hymn—see stanza 3—reminds us. Even during a pandemic we still have something precious to offer: baptism into Christ, freedom from sin and fear, the call to love God and neighbor. Why? For God so loved the world!
God of Love, may we sing of the hope you have given us. May we courageously connect to our neighbors to bring a living good news through our words and deeds, guided by your Holy Spirit! Amen.