Lectionary Year B
May 21, 2000
1 John 4:7-21

Step VI: Contemporary Address


Any time love gets highlighted in a lesson, I think of the midsize congregation I served as part time Interim Pastor in 1996 and 97. Nice folks, very loving and I never told them that they were exceptionally loving because I didnít want to scare them out of what was a natural strong point in their corporate life. I still get called to substitute for their pastor when heís off and they still are loving and nice as ever. Their mission and ministries are growing and spreading slowly, too. They work with a housing project of under-privileged families, have an expanding youth program and have a new and very talented and devoted organist-choir master under whose leadership the choir is growing in every conceivable way. It is a good neighborhood congregation.


We could hope to address the ideas of Gospel and Response as 1 John 4:7-21 exposes them in an attention getting fashion. Perhaps the TV show format would get and retain the pew sittersí attention and could stay with them as they sought to live a Gospel oriented life the rest of the week. Letís try it.


Donna Shalala, U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, likes TVís "The West Wing". She appreciates the charactersí morals and ethics. She says she would do a guest appearance on The West Wing ďin a heart beatĒ. So, letís imagine she is going to get to do just that - a guest shot on The West Wing. And, guess what? She wants you to co-star with her, as a co-guest-star. So, you agree to try it. Nervously, you read the script they send you before the week of rehearsals and shooting.

I. God
      God is knowable, seeable, audible, touchable, able to relate with, too, as earlier passages in 1 John have said, especially 1:1-22. If Martin Sheen, who plays the President on "The West Wing", is a God figure, he is compassionate, thoughtful and righteous, as is God. God is all those things, to be sure.

      God lives in us and permits us to live in Him as well.

      God sends Jesus to earth to show us, to tell us about, to live out eternal life and that in abundance and to save the world (John 3:16, of course).

II. Love
      Our love grows toward perfection as we live in God. Donna Shalala has a high regard for her real life boss, President Bill Clinton, and, furthermore, has an even higher regard for Josiah Bartlet, the figure in the White Houseís Oval Office on "The West Wing".

      Without fear, cast out by love, we gain confidence to face the Day of Judgement. Guest stars on TV sitcoms in primetime must exude fearless self-confidence. We can gain that attribute by following the example of Jesus Christ and by living close to God. It might take some risky stepping out beyond the boundaries within which we usually operate, but, it might work, with Godís help, and it surely will prove worth the effort, as well.

III. Loving One Another
      We may put our trust in this trustworthy God. When you go to Hollywood, or wherever they tape "The West Wing", you will learn to trust the director, the producer, etc., on the set and in and around the studio. We can hope. However, we can trust (the real meaning of ďhaving faith inĒ) Godís kind of love to develop in relationships with others in God.

      We can love seen siblings = others, more than just other Christians, to be sure. We can love make-up artists, grips, production assistants, set designers, costume designers and sound engineers, et. al. All the people who surround us are loveable, Ďcause God indwells them, too, and makes them loveable.

      Godís love enables us both to be loved and to love others, as well as ourselves and God, too.

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