“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!
As our reflections for Ash Wednesday suggested, there is often a strong temptation to direct our attentions during Lent inward on ourselves—to ponder our own piety, our record of righteousness, and to ask more deeply: “How am I doing in this journey of faith?” But a quite different direction, that of refocusing our attention upon the word and promises of God, might be suggested by our theme hymn for Lent. Its opening verse points us to the heart of the gospel witness: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that all who believe may have life in his name” (John 3:16). The remaining verses of the hymn tease out the implications for faith of that central testimony: how the word became flesh; how through Christ’s death and resurrection we have received forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation; and how that good news leads us to sing the praise and glory of God.
God of love, may the good news of your love for all your creation once again capture our thoughts and imagination in this Lenten season so that we may be inspired to sing your praises. Amen.