For God So Loved the World
By Vicar Lisa
This Sunday, included in our lectionary is one of, if not the most, quoted verses in the Bible. Our passage from John includes the first verse I ever remember memorizing: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Probably like me, you memorized this verse in Sunday School. For quite a few years, I believed it – God loved me! I believed with a simple, childlike faith.
Then came a time when I didn’t. The application seemed so broad to me. He didn’t love me especially. He loved the whole world. I was just a little molecule of H2O floating around in an ocean of humanity. Not so special after all.
There were reasons for this of course. As a young woman, I was suffering the psychological impact of sexual abuse as a child by a neighbor. I felt set apart from others, different. I felt unworthy. Scarred. Damaged goods. Unloved. And the lack of self-love resulted in behavior that God would not approve of, therefore I was certainly not someone worthy of Jesus’ suffering on the cross.
Yes, I had been a victim but instead of clinging to the Word of God, I believed the lies of Satan. But God never gave up on me. I was pursued, prodded, and reminded of the love that sent Christ to the cross. Thankfully, God never allowed me to get so far away that I destroyed my life. I finally heard his truth through my parents and from a friend within a week, a truth that turned me around and got me back on the true path. I finally heard what God had been trying to tell me all along, speaking over the lies that Satan whispered in my mind.
God loved me, and Jesus died for me. And the same applies to you. We do not need to be afraid of being different, of being unloved, or about being unworthy. Every day we live in God’s grace, we grow stronger and more perfect. Don’t listen to the lies of the liar and the father of lies. Instead, listen to the truth in the Word of God.
“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear….”
--1 John 4:17–18
Sunday, March 5, Second Sunday in Lent
Adult Education: At Sunday School at 8:30 am, we have been studying Luther’s Small Catechism. If you are new to the Lutheran faith, considering membership or baptism, or just want a refresher study, please consider joining us.
10 a.m. Worship with Holy Communion
Worship Leaders: Vicar Lisa Rygiel, Julie Wersal
Lector: Joni Jones
Musicians: Connie Pallone
Ushers: Dick and Ann Rasmussen
Communion: Peggy Gustafson and Kathy Humphrey
Post-Worship Adult Education and Potluck: Following worship, we will have our (soon to be) “traditional” First Sunday potluck followed by a brief adult education class entitled Classic Church – Church Becoming. This video and discussion opportunity was recommended to us by the Transition Team. Please bring something to share and plan on attending!
E-formation – Second Sunday in Lent
This coming Sunday, we set off along with Abraham, as he journeyed to the Promised Land, and with Nicodemus, when he visited Jesus in the night, for we are heading through Lent to arrive at Easter. Come: join the people of God in prayer and praise, word and meal.
The four Lenten Johannine discourses begin with Jesus’ teaching about being born again. Until the nineteenth century, the church understood “being born again” as referring to baptism. In Lent, catechumens are prepared for Easter baptism, and the community, as Martin Luther says, daily crawls back to the font, to be renewed in the promises of this second birth.
As with many of the lectionary’s first readings, Genesis 12 is chosen to parallel the gospel reading. Jesus calls on Nicodemus to be born again, and in parallel, we recall the story of the Lord calling Abram to begin a new life in a new land in the sight of God.
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
As is usual with the second reading for about half of the church year, this second reading is chosen to coordinate with the first reading and the gospel. Romans is seen as appropriate for Lent; thus four of the Lenten epistle readings come from Romans. On this Sunday, Paul’s commentary on Abraham presents the Christian interpretation of the call of Abram: God blessed Abraham, not because he obeyed the Jewish law, but because he had faith in the promises of God, the same faith into which Nicodemus and all the baptized are invited.
Zion's Lutheran Church