Lectionary Year B
April 2, 2000
John 3:14-21

StepVI: Contemporary Address


(JFC) A. AUDIENCE

This sermon could bless a congregation I served as part time Interim in 1995 and 96. They are truly the most loving congregation I have ever known. I never told them that the whole ten months I served them between full time pastors. However, since the present pastor came, I substituted for him once when he was hospitalized and told them then about their extraordinary love. They are equally sensitive folk. They are a healthy suburban congregation with an adequate plant and a substantial budget. They engage in several mission projects in the city where they are located. They have an energetic youth program. They would be uplifted by further revelations from John 3:14-21.

(JFC) B. GOALS

We can expect this passage to identify that it is God who generates love at its best. The reasons God gives love and the channel through whom this gift of love comes can be declared to be God’s only begotten Son. Also, the ramifications of receiving the gift can be a part of this passage’s sermon this year.

(JFC) C. ADDRESS

“Love Does What?”

Introduction
Do you remember when you were less than loving? When you were a younger congregation, did everyone on this side of town know of your love? What made you loving? Or, rather, who made you loving? Your parents, of course, made you loving. So did school teachers, Sunday School teachers, Youth Group Advisors, Coaches, music and dance instructors, too, of course. Well, then, who made them loving? We go all the way back as far as it takes to get us to God’s being the One who makes people loving, able to love and willing to love lovingly.

The Incarnation
Remember? Most of my sermons begin with God. God came to humankind in Jesus of Nazareth. Today’s text tells us why. God came to express divine love to and for us. God wanted to tell the whole world, “I love you, whole world.” God is a giving God. The gift of Jesus to the world is a magnanimous gift if ever there was one. It/He is the best gift ever given and the Giver is the best Giver, too.

The Light and the Darkness
When we realize that God gives the gift supreme, i. e., Jesus, we will be approaching the light in which to live aright. Jesus brings God’s light into the world (John 1:9). That’s how God begins to enlighten us who sometimes seem to prefer the darkness where we might yield to temptations to do less than good, or, evil, even. Some of what “Love changes” is the environment in which we live and encounter temptations that can lead to doing evil. God’s light enlightens the mileu in which we are tempted to do wrong even to would us into hiding. God’s love revealed in Jesus casts light into the venues in which we live. Then, even more noticably, God’s light enables us to believe that even when we make mistakes, sin, make wrong choices and/or yield to temptations, God forgives us. That belief enlightens us greatly and it frees us, too.

Blessings Result
Eternal life is the greatest of blessings, experienced forever and always. The end of Lent, as its beginning as well as every day and night throughout these 40 days will be endurable as we reflect, repent and renew our attempts to live and serve with Christ following our mutual God’s will. Living in the light and pursuing the truth, true and right, might take some time, too. When we receive Jesus as Savior, we get an invitation to become “the children of God” (John 1:12). One such ‘child of God’ who might not have realized it is “Hurricane” Carter (played by Denzel Washington) in the movie, “Hurricane”. It tells a story of a strong contender for the middleweight boxing title. When three people were murdered in a New Jersey bar, Carter's dreams were destroyed. He was erroneously arrested for the murders and sentenced to serve three life terms in prison. Several years later, Carter's published memoir, “The 16th Round”, inspired a Brooklyn teenager and three Canadian activists, who believed in the truth, to join forces with Carter to prove his innocence. Their extraordinary efforts, commitment and love ultimately secured his release. It left "Hurricane" to sum up his 20 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit by simply stating, "Hate got me into this place, love got me out." Freedom.

Conclusion
God sheds light into the darknesses through which we travel daily. Jesus is that Light. When we look for Him we see Him, in the faces of those who lead us and those who would follow us and, even, also, in the faces of those who would seek to impede our journeys into and through truth, righteousness and goodness. Jesus came to and for all people throughout the entire world.

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