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Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church ~ Munising, Michigan

Third Sunday of Easter - 04/18/2021

My favorite reading today, the one that I have decided to preach about, is the second reading from 1 John. How wonderfully lucky I feel to be able to preach about something as simple as LOVE. So much of the Bible can be difficult to understand. There are many topics that I don’t feel that I have the knowledge or experience to responsibly preach. But love, love is easy. We all know love, feel love and love others. Easy….

As Christians, we know that we need to treat each other with love. And we do. Did you see all the visiting happening here before service started? On Facebook, “Good morning” is popping up as everyone is happy to be gathered, no matter how strangely we gather these days. Later we will pray the prayers of intercession, and we will list our loved ones in need of prayer. And whether you personally know the people listed or not, you will pray for them with your whole heart, because we are Christians and we love. I bet your own daily prayers often include someone that you don’t know, someone you saw on the news who was treated with injustice, someone who was injured or is lost. You do this because you are a Christian and we love. These prayers are a needed, beautiful and a wonderful place to start. But let’s go back to the second reading.

Verse 16 – “We know love by this, that Jesus Chirst laid down His life for us-and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” John is not saying that we need to be ready to die for our neighbor, although there are people that we would give up our life for, our children, our spouse. But John is saying that we ought to give our life to others by serving them so that they may be blessed and saved. The love that you give through, serving and caring for another, may be the only Jesus that they see. Jesus' love, through you, may lead them to knowing God.

Verse 18 “Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” The truth that John speaks of is Jesus. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We need to put the love that Jesus gave us into action for our neighbors. Jesus' love is not passive, it is active. To let the Holy Spirit work in us and show that love, we must be doers. We must help those we see that are in need. We need to give to those who have less than us. We need to be Light for those who feel lost in the dark.

And this is where simple love becomes a little more difficult. Jesus requires more than just kindness. Being kind is wonderful. Being kind causes no harm. But love, love not only causes no harm, it heals. It heals the broken in spirit and brings light and hope to those in the dark. Bringing this kind of love to others is not easy. If you choose to love like Jesus, you will have to give of your time and your possessions. Life is busy and time is precious. Our possessions often give us comfort even though we know that our comfort should not be in worldly goods.

Loving like Jesus requires courage. Acting out this love may bring you into situations where you feel uncomfortable-unsure of what to do or say. Examples of these uncomfortable situations are visiting someone in the hospital-seeing someone outside of your intimate circle dressed in a hospital gown, sick or hurting, vulnerable. Going to the funeral home. Talking to someone going through a divorce, lost their job, suffered a miscarriage…. Places where people are hurting can be scary. It is difficult to walk into someone's time of need. You may worry that you will say the wrong thing and accidentally hurt someone's feelings or that your act of love will be unappreciated or unaccepted and you will be embarrassed by your action. And, you might say the wrong thing, or your love might be rejected. But still we are called to love-in action.

So, how do we love like Jesus? I think that putting the love of Jesus into action starts by first giving ourselves to Him completely. We need to immerse ourselves in the Word. Open your Bible at home. Don’t be afraid of it. If you are new to reading the bible, Google a favorite verse then read the words surrounding it. Find Scripture that gives you peace and strength and memorize them. Lean into the Scripture when you are afraid, weak or need rest. Know that God is with you and in you. You are part of the body of Christ, here and now. Practice love in action with your family, coworkers, people that you see every day. Practice love in action during the day to day until it becomes your normal behavior.

Then, when you are called out of your comfort zone, love in action will be more natural. And, before you make your first step out of your comfort zone, pray. Ask that the Holy Spirit guide you, so your actions are a blessing and show the love of Jesus. Lastly, be humble. We do not love others because of how good we are, it is because of how good God is. Remember that we love only because God loved us first. Amen

Elaine Robbins

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Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church ~ Munising Michigan ~ An ELCA, Northern Great Lakes Synod Congregation
P.O. Box 360 ~ 1150 West M-28 ~ Munising, MI 49862 ~ 1-906-387-2520 ~

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