Saturday, June 18, 2011

Love For a Broken World - Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reflections on the Readings
The Most Holy Trinity
June 19, 2011 - Year A
By Dennis S. Hankins

Love For a Broken World

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

You're watching the Cardinals and the Braves on ESPN from your favorite Lazy Boy recliner.  And there it is again.  A pesky sign holder in the stands behind home plate proudly pumps his message as the pitcher throws his umpteenth 95 mph ball.  It's hurling toward home plate and FLASH:  FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE - JOHN 3:16.  Was that a ball or a strike?

I'd say it was a home run!  I mean the message on the fan's flash card.There are words in that message that we need to hear:  God loves the world; he gave his ONLY son; if you believe in him you won't perish but will in fact inherit eternal life.  

The history of humankind is rife with brokenness, peril, division, war, atrocities, immorality - the absence of love.  In Romans chapters 1 and 2, St. Paul gives a comprehensive review of human history.  In those chapters Paul writes that ever since the creation of the world God has shown the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity in the things he has made.  The crowning work of God's good creation is you and me.  Yet from the beginning humans have failed to honor him and to give him thanks for his goodness.  The spirit of the snake seduced our first parents and darkness invaded their minds and their hearts.  Paul describes the reach and history of this seduction: Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles - Romans 1:22-23.  

Paul candidly reveals the depth of the seduction including the descent of the passions and appetites of the flesh.  And then as if no longer unable to hold back, the saintly Paul unveils the awful black hole of darkness:  They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  (Romans 1:29-31) Did you see your name in any of that?  I saw mine.  

Yet Paul asks, "Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4)  The climactic truth is "All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God. But the gift of God is eternal life through the justifying grace of redemption which is in Christ Jesus." (see Romans 3:23-24)  On all of this misery of sin and rebellion God gazed upon his world with a love that is immeasurable and said, "I am not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (see 2 Peter 3:9)

My friend, somewhere in the realms of Eternal Love, the blessed Trinity conspired to bring us back to our first love.  In what can only be described as an act of complete sacrifice, the One for whom the angels cry Holy, Holy, Holy, God in himself gave himself, and a Lamb stood between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, as though it had been slain. (Revelation 5:6)  This is he of whom the Father said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove.  

On Mt. Sinai Moses heard the voice of the LORD.  The LORD appeared to Moses in a cloud.  And in a parade of holiness, the LORD passed before him crying out: "The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity."  Moses did what we do today; he bowed down to the ground in worship.  Then Moses said, "If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company.  This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own."

Before us today is the mystery of unapproachable light and majesty.  Yet God has revealed himself to us and today he is lifted up from this Altar.  He is a merciful and gracious God who is slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.  Jesus invites us into the fellowship of His Father and of His Spirit; he receives us as his own.  With holy and reverent hearts, let us receive the body and blood of our Saviour.  How immeasurably deep and wide is God's love for us and for our world. 

In the name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 



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