Preparing For Worship: How Big Is God's Love?

Preparing For Worship: How Big Is God's Love?

John Haralson   •   February 24, 2017

-The Far Side by Gary Larson

“You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Anne Lamott

Dear Friends,

Before I went to seminary, I used to preach occasionally at the church I where I worshiped in a small town in Georgia. Most of those sermons I have mercifully forgotten.

One sermon, however, stands out to me because of the response from a visitor that week. After worship, it was customary for the preacher to stand at the door and greet everyone as they left the church. That warm Sunday morning, I  took my place at the door and shook peoples’ hands and exchanged various pleasantries. One woman, whom I had never met before, refused to extend her hand to me. She looked me right in the eye and said:

       Well, you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about.

Good times.

This week, we will dive into Jesus’ first sermon in Luke’s gospel. At first, his hearers respond favorably towards Jesus. They “marvel at his gracious words”. You can almost hear them saying:

       Great sermon, rabbi! Really great sermon.

But, almost in an instant, the people go from agreement and affirmation into murderous rage. They want to silence, once and for all, the voice of Jesus.

Now, what did Jesus say that was so controversial? What did he communicate to the synagogue-goers that day that led them to try to throw him from the top of a cliff?

Jesus told them that God’s love wasn’t just for them. It wasn’t just for an insider club of “good” people who deserve a relationship with God while the rest of the “evil” world doesn’t.

In other words, Jesus told them that God’s love was so vast that it extended to their enemies. And they hated to hear this. This was not good news to them. It filled them with rage.

What about you? 

Who are your enemies? Perhaps they are people with whom you disagree politically. Maybe they don’t see eye-to-eye with you about who should be president, or how one should think about immigration, abortion, transgender bathroom policies, or health insurance. Or, it could be that your parents are your enemies, or your ex-wife or a former boss. 

Would you rejoice if God loved them?

Tell the truth.

This week: How Big Is God’s Love, Luke 4:14-30

Liturgy is here

I hope to worship with you.

Warmly in Christ,