Sunday, March 12, 2017
Second Sunday in Lent
Girl Scout Sunday

Prayer of the Day
O God, our leader and guide, in the waters of baptism you bring us to new birth to live as your children. Strengthen our faith in your promises, that by your Spirit we may lift up your life to all the world through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings and Psalm
Genesis 12:1-4a  The blessing of God upon Abram
Psalm 121
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17  The promise to those who share Abraham’s faith
John 3:1-17  The mission of Christ: to save the world

Sermon:  Why?  God So Loved
This day was Girl Scout Sunday.  The sermon began with a conversation with the scouts who were present to talk about what they do at their meetings.  The point of the discussion was to point out that they do their work not for pay but because they enjoy it.

Discussion of work and pay.
What do you do in girl scouts?
Sounds like a lot of work.
Do you get paid for that?
What about your leaders?
So why do you all do it?

Same with God.  God creates.  God loves.  God is always present.  Not because of what we do for God.  Not because we give or pay something, but God does all this for us because God loves us.  God considers us all children.  We are all part of God’s family.

In the first reading this morning we heard part of the story of how God called Abraham to leave everything he knew behind and come out into new territory to learn more about God so that Abraham and all his descendants could teach others about God.  Could show and remind the world that God loves and that God is present.

In the story about Jesus that we read, a wise man wants to learn more about God.  He had heard about what Jesus was doing and what he had been teaching and he wanted to know more.  So he comes to Jesus with questions.  (You can always tell a wise person not by the answers that they give, but by the questions they ask.  They aren’t afraid to ask.  They are wise because they want to learn more.  They know they don’t have all the answers.)

So this wise person – Nicodemus, comes to Jesus at night, because there are some who would not have been happy that he was coming to talk to Jesus.  But that just goes to show you how very wise old Nicodemus was because even though his friends would disagree, he still went to talk to Jesus.  To ask his questions.

And Nicodemus starts out saying that he sees that Jesus must have a very special connection to God.  But Jesus turns it around and tells Nicodemus that everyone can have a very special connection to God.  Not as payment for what we do, but because of who God is.  God is love.  Or as Jesus put it:  For God so loved the world that he gave.

And when you get a gift like that, you can’t help but want to give back.  But God is so loving that God tells us that the best way to give back for what God does for us is by:  helping others, serving them, standing up with them.

While you will hear some people say only think about yourself, God wants us to think about and help others who are in need.
Some people will say be afraid of people different from you, God tells us to get to know them, show them love.
Some people will say hold onto what you have, God tells us to share with one another so that everyone has what they need.

When we do this and more, then the love that God has for the world, the love that God gives to us; it can change the world, and, in the end, that is why Jesus came, to change the world with love and for love.  God called Abraham out so that Abraham could be a blessing to the world. God is calling us to step out and be a blessing through the love we share.

And it all starts with…God so loved the world that God gave.  And God continues to give.  Look around and see.  Everything from flowers that are trying hard to bloom even in spite of this cold weather that just won’t go away to Girl Scout troops and congregations that work together in the name of love.  We are richly blessed and we are a blessing.

So while there is no pay involved for showing and sharing love, the results are priceless, and have the power to change the world.

The Rev. Mark Erson,
Pastor

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