And I preached on the gospel for today and this verse:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."
It felt good to be back in a Disciples Church, to say the Lord's prayer in community, to receive communion and yes, to preach the word of God. Always when I am preaching my first audience is myself and it is a word I need to hear.
First Christian Church is Ashland has a really nice worship space with chairs (not pews) in sort of a horseshoe. In the front they had about a half dozen suitcases to represent that we need to let go of our baggage during Lent. As I preached I really felt that the message was bare bones basic - Christianity 101 which is simple but easy to forget.
It was about salvation - a word that has been used and misused by the church - when people decide we are the arbiters of who is "saved" and who is not. Jesus does save however - he saves us from a life of being burdened by sin. He saves us from a life of being consumed with self. He saves us from the values of the "world" into a new life in the Kingdom - which is centered on love, compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation. And he trusts God enough to go to the cross and then with the resurrection we know that we too can trust this God of love. Love wins.
And you might say - this sounds kind of obvious. But I will tell you it is easy to lose sight of for me.
In his book The Song of the Bird Anthony De Mello has written a number of "parables". Here is one
Shout to Keep Safe - and Certain
A prophet once came to a city
to convert its inhabitants.
At first the people listened to his sermons, but they
gradually drifted away till there was not a single soul
to hear the prophet when he spoke.
One day a traveler said to him.
"Why do you go on preaching?"
Said the prophet, "In the beginning
I hoped to change these people.
If I still shout about it is only to prevent
them from changing me."
And so I sit writing this and feel blessed to once again get to think about, write about and speak about this basic understanding of faith and really MY life.
God is good all the time - and love wins.