God pointing love.
Sometimes I just really wish you could be there. On Wednesday night when a member shared his story of how his life was “re-routed” time and again he gave testimony to the the power of God’s love and the power of community. He kept pointing to God's love alive and at work in his life. He had all theses episodes and incidents he shared where he could see God’s love even in the midst of the hardest of times. I wish you could have been there for it. I don’t know how to explain the power of the event without wanting to say “you just really had to be there”. He pointed to God's love over and over and over.
When our friend, Mark, shared this powerful message he kept pointing to God. He shared about his deep loss, his sorrow, the tragedy and his joy. He shard all the re-routing that created unexpected connections and light. I wish you could have been there. Some of the most powerful experiences are just that way. And yet this morning as I reflected again upon what he shared last night (powerful experiences are that way also)- I realize his story has now become part of my story. When we share deep love and connection we bridge the gap of needing to have been there to see it with our own eyes or hear it with our own ears.
There are those who tell their stories in powerful ways to make us feel like we were there. And there are stories so powerful even when not told with the eloquence and insight that Mark has- we can still feel like we are there. Last night it was both. Every Wednesday evening in this season of Lent we will gather for Holden Evening Prayer- a very powerful liturgy in and of itself. Each week another story- a God pointing story, a re-routing GPS story will be shared.
Will you be part of the God-pointing stories? Will you be part of the answer to the question of what is the point of love? Let me extend to you this season of Lent an invitation- to listen to stories, to tell stories, to engage with one another in our stories and our shared biblical story. It’s the power and the point of love- to be shared. When we point out that love is all around us in all times and places we invite others and reminded ourselves of power of love to give us direction. We can point out how we see love, hear love, and experience love.
This weekend we hear the story of the Pharisee ,Nicodemus ,coming to Jesus in the dark of the night to try to understand who Jesus is and what Jesus is all about. There was love that night and it engaged Nicodemus at a level beyond understanding with his mind and invited him into the heart space. Nicodemus tried to point out that Jesus didn't make sense, wasn't using logic or reason that Nicodemus could wrap his mind around yet something stuck for Nicodemus in what he heard and saw and felt for Jesus.
In John’s gospel we will hear of Nicodemus again (John 7:50, John 19:39). Even as he came in the dark of night unsure, not comprehending, later Nicodemus will be there at the death of Jesus and part of making plans for Jesus' burial. This week I have wondered how the encounter of God’s Love in the Flesh (Jesus) impacted and affected Nicodemus in the years after the resurrection. Love does that to us- it changes us, transforms us, points us in new directions. Love gives us stories to share.
It is in the first account of Nicodemus recorded in John’s gospel that we hear one of the best known and loved bible verse; John 3:16.
16 “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.
We often read John 3:16 and forget about John 3:17:
17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Jesus is Love incarnate-God's love come into the world. The message of Jesus turns our best thinking upside down as it illuminates the point of this Love . To save us. This saving is not for some day and one day only- it's for today. To be made whole, healed, reconnected to the God who created us in God's very own image. Put your faith in this One. That's the point. Jesus is the Love of God in the Flesh- who was come so that everyone places their trust in this Love. Followers of Jesus have often missed the point. Instead of seeing the grace of God alive and at work, come to life in Jesus, the interpretation becomes that the love of God is limited, conditional, withheld, and intended to separate those on the inside from those they judge to be judged by God.
When the story of where love took our friend Mark was shared Wednesday- his God Positioning Story (GPS) he kept coming back to Romans 8.
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He shared how again and again that scripture walked with him as a God Pointing Scripture (GPS). Mark saw and experienced the saving grace and love of God in both the times of deep heartbreak and tragedy and times of great rejoicing.
In worship when we share “God sightings” we share the point of love- God’s love- it is gift and a gift to be shared. Together we point to that love as we share our experiences- both joys and sorrows, our hopes - both big and small and we point to experiences of love walking with us.
This season my prayer for you is to see, to feel, to hear, to experience this Love. The point of the saving love of God to heal, rescue and save us and points us in the direction of the light day after day after day. God is pointing us again and again to see how Love has both the first and the last word. We are invited to be saved, healed, preserved, rescued as we live in this Love each day.