Scripture/Sermon of the Day. May 2, 2021

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:16-21

God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. 17 This is how love has been perfected in us, so that we can have confidence on the Judgment Day, because we are exactly the same as God is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love because God first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars. After all, those who don’t love their brothers or sisters whom they have seen can hardly love God whom they have not seen! 21 This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.

John 15:1-8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. 3 You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. 6 If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples.

Reflection/Sermon:

I. Even though the whole Bible is mainly about God’s love, much of that message is told TOLD INDIRECTY THROUGH STORIES AND PARABLES. Like the Creation Story in Genesis. It’s all an act of love. Notice — we’re not told WHY God did this, directly. Why make planets and stars? Why make earth? Why Adam and Eve?
But we can see, as we read, that it was an act of love. Look at the description of the Garden of Eden — all the amazing fruits and plants to eat? It seems that originally, God intended us to be vegans. There was no meat section in Eden, just produce. It seems became carnivores after the fall!

II. My friend struggles with the idea of how a God of love can create a food chain where animals eat one another. Where’s the love in this?
John says “God is love”— but how did a loving God make this? Arabs and Jews hating each other. White supremacists despising Jews and African-Americans and foreigners—HOW DID A GOD OF LOVE MAKE THIS?

III. And look at us now — we are in the midst of one of the worst catastrophes in our American history. More than half a million Americans have died in one year. AND ventilators around the world breathe for people who can’t and mass cremations darken skies in India and South America.
So we have to ask: “Where is the God of love in all this?”

IV. I will show you. One of the greatest signs of God’s love, right now — and our love for each other — is revealed in a tiny scrap of paper or cloth. It weighs almost nothing. The love of God and the healing power of Jesus Christ revealed now by something so small we can stick in our pocket — almost as light as the Holy Spirit!
A FACE MASK!
This tiny, almost weightless thing has saved millions of lives — it is the love of Jesus Christ worn on our faces.
Do you realize that by wearing a mask makes we fulfill the highest law in the Bible: we love God by loving your neighbor as ourselves.

V. Two nights ago I had one of those plumbing emergencies that if we live in a house long enough is inevitable. The drain pipe, probably close to 70 years old, on the bathtub cracked and it resulted in a small flood on the basement floor that I noticed after Annie got out of the shower.
So I called our pumber friends Ernie and Son the next morning and they came within hours. But even more impressive than their coming so quickly was THE WAY they came. Both, when I answered the door, were wearing masks. It was like they both said, when I answered the door, “We love you man!”

VII. Probably the greatest mystery that our current Covid drama has raised is not where the virus came from but the phenomenon of people who REFUSE to make the simple, loving, lifesaving gesture of wearing a mask. One of the greatest devices of salvation and heath ever devised — cheap, portable, easy to use — but many people won’t wear one! Is freedom the issue?

VIII. Jesus used his freedom only to heal and love people. He is the vine that God’s love flows through and our spiritual work is doing whatever we can to stay attached to the vine of Jesus Christ, the source of freedom and love and joy.