1 John 4:7-21 (NRSV)
Read 1 John 4:7-21 on biblegateway.com
Verse 7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Verse 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. Verse 9God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Verse 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Verse 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. Verse 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. Verse 13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
Verse 14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. Verse 15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. Verse 16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
Verse 17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. Verse 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. Verse 19We love because he first loved us. Verse 20Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. Verse 21The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
In Navajo cosmology, all constellations in the night sky have an “igniter star” that gives light to the other stars in the constellation. Polaris, the North Star, is an igniter star, sending light to the other stars of the dippers. The love described in these words from 1 John is an igniter for us. For many of us, they were the first full sentences we could read in our seminary Greek class. Simple words, yet they are profound.
Friday our Northeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly convenes with the theme “Love Ignites Us.” We have lived with a pandemic for more than a year. We are tired and wondering when it will end. We yearn to gather in person, not virtually. Through the frustration and challenges, God abides with us. God’s love ignites us, and we will work fearlessly for peace, justice, and wholeness—and we’ll share God’s boundless love for all.
God of the universe, ignite me with your love. Set my heart on fire and let me see all your children as my brothers and sisters. Amen.