God Loved the World (ELW 323, focus on verse 3)
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!
Verse three of our Lenten hymn, “God Loved the World,” considers physical death. But Lent is also a time we can put to death our often-hidden sins. However, breaking free from old ways is frightening to me because what’s familiar—even if it’s harmful and unjust—seems easier and safer. Be reassured, God loves us despite our sinfulness. Nevertheless, God loves us so much that God doesn’t abandon us in our dead-end plights. God calls us from sin’s shadows and leads us into Jesus’ light. Then, God abides with us in the light. There, God surrounds us with love as we face whatever’s intimidating, unfamiliar, and reprioritized within our newly re-created, fruitful, and righteous lives. During our Lenten journeys, let’s look for God’s love as it meets us in our old, sinful ways and leads us into new, righteous lives. That’s where we can find God loving us and the world.
Abiding God, thank you for loving us as we are, despite our faults and sinfulness. Give us the courage to follow you into Jesus’ light to undertake new lives that are fruitful and just. Amen.