Scripture Lesson: 1 John 5: 9-13
If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
On April 29, the Baltimore Orioles played the Chicago White Sox in Baltimore. The odd part? They played with an entirely empty stadium. Due to the unrest in Baltimore and the riots, the MLB decided they did not want to risk any violence during the game. Some of the players added some humor, such as one tossed the ball into the empty stands on a foul ball. Another batter hit a home run, but because there was no one in the stands, the ball hits the bleachers and bounced back onto the field, taking the home run away from the hitter. The Orioles definitely had the home field advantage. The game was a shut-out, with the Orioles winning 8-0. There is something to be said when there are fans cheering you on.
And so it is in the Christian community as the whole Church and as each individual church with its respective members. Unless we have each other to cheer each one of us on in our journeys it becomes a pretty hum-drum existence for us. When you have a congregation of people that have formed a community together you have a group of people who cheer for us when we are at our top, and mourn with us when things are looking down.
Hospitality seems to be a word not used much today. It was used in the world around us when we used to talk about how things used to be. Neighbors knew each other, they were friends, and most neighborhoods had the annual block party, Christmas parties, and so on. Hospitality was offered to anyone: family member, friend, neighbor, enemy, someone from a foreign land. It was offered as a token of invitation to the community and welcome to its ministry.
However, we have forgotten the meaning of the word as a society. There is such an atmosphere of mistrust between one another that we rarely, if ever, meet our neighbors. The Johannine writer of our Scripture today is telling us that without the love of Christ in our lives, and then going out to show that love is what marks a true follower of Jesus. Our intentions, then become the proof of that love that is within us.
CNN News released last Monday an article that states that the millenial generation people are leaving the traditional church structure and worship for the bigger mega-churches, where they can experience something more entertaining than finding and experiencing the awesomeness of our Creator God and the love of Jesus Christ. I read in the Statesman a couple of days that this new generation for the young people of today is the YOLO generation, which means “You Only Live Once”.
Dorothy Day, a Roman Catholic advocate for social justice said, “As for ourselves, yes, we must be meek, bear injustice, malice, rash judgment. We must turn the other cheek, give up our cloak, go a second mile”. These are all things that Jesus said we must do. It is part of the action of the intentions of our hearts in our relationship with the Holy One who lives within us.
Perhaps for us today is the beginning of a realization in our lives that God has chosen us for a new ministry in Jesus’ name. God is always changing things, so should not our ministries also evolve and change the more we encounter the Holy One?
Paul Scott Wilson, a professor at Emmanuel College of the University of Toronto, says, “God preserves a community of proclamation, a community that both proclaims God’s word and flourishes because the word lives within its members.”
Although the author of our Scripture for today is presumed to be John, the same author as the gospel, the message for today is that if we truly believe in God’s intention to put Jesus’ intentions into our lives, then we will show this love of God by doing the same things, in essence showing that we have the love of God in us. It is in this knowledge that we know we have eternal life in God.
In the Scriptures the woman at the well, after hearing Jesus, took action because the word, Jesus, had met her, resulting in a change that caused her to go back to her community and spread the news. It was an act of action because of Jesus.
Mary, when she approached the empty tomb and had no one else with her, was approached by a man she believed to be a gardener. Hoping to find the physical body of Jesus she asked this gardener where someone had taken the body. It was only when Jesus said her name, “Mary” that she again encountered the word of God, causing her to again go into action. It is this life account that goes on and on in our lives as it did for Mary and anyone else who encountered Jesus. There is a change in how we live now as a community of believers in one building.
The disciples, after seeing Jesus rise into the clouds of heaven, did as Jesus told them, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and direct them in the intentional Gospel of action and love.
How many people here today started at this church and never moved to another church? There is not that many of us. We have gone to churches, and maybe have been very active in them only to become disheartened because we end up doing everything ourselves (we think), we do not like the preacher or the ministers, someone offends us, we do not like the doctrine, or we just get plain tired of the same people around us. However, this group of people here today are here because the word of God here has compelled us to some intentional action on the part of that word, and with that word we feel part of the community of this particular church at this particular time.
Our situation as church members or church goers is to show the love of God in our lives with the time that we have on earth. As Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years.” As we leave this community gathering today and move into and through the week, let us love what God has given us by showing our neighbors, enemies, and friends the love of God within us in all that we do.