Yr B ~ Easter 3 ~ 1 John 3:1-7
We’re going to be spending the season of Easter going through the love letter called 1st John. It’s actually more of a sermon – now turned into a bunch of sermons! It’s meant to be an encouragement to a church that’s having a rough go and needs some love. I thought that resonated pretty strongly in this seemingly never-ending season of Covid-tide. Our reading today begins with a heartwarming affirmation.
1 John 3:1 “What marvellous love the Father has extended to us!”
Let’s just sit with that for a second. God has extended love to us. Extended here carries the sense of a gift. God has gifted us with love. We have love because God gives it. God’s gift is love. You can say it all sorts of different ways and each one sounds better than the previous one as it washes over us in wave after wave of blessing.
Richard Rohr says, “Clearly, you are participating in a Love that’s being given to you. You are not creating this. You are not generating this. It is being generated through you and in you and for you. You are participating in something larger than yourself, and you are just allowing it and trusting it for the pure gift that it is.”
The next words in the translation we’re using today are “Just look at it…”
It’s about awareness. God gives love – look at it – see it – notice it. Not sure how? Close your eyes and breathe deeply and feel it! (deep breath) Drink God’s love in. Let it fill you up. It really is marvellous! “What marvellous love God has given to us!” In fact, we’ve been extended so much love by the Holy Mystery that we name God that we get to be called children of God. We are children of God like a hippie is a child of the 60’s – utterly and completely infused by the source that shapes our being.
1 John 3:1-2 We’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. (all of us!)
But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who God is or what God’s up to.
But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning.
‘Children of God’ is such a rich image. We’re all children, we may not all be parents but we have all been children – at least once! The problem is that not all of us had warm, loving parents. Some people’s childhoods are horrific, or at least unhappy.
But unlike our imperfect human parents God’s parenthood is pure holiness – and all those qualities of a beautiful childhood that one hopes and wishes for are present in God’s parenthood. There is nurture, there is guidance, there is the requirement of obedience, there is comfort, and most of all there is unlimited, overflowing, unconditional love. (Well, I guess there is one condition – you have to accept it and embrace it. I can give you a winning lottery ticket but I can’t force you to cash it in. That’s how God’s love works too – you’ve gotta claim it!)
And here’s the awesome part – the scripture says that all that’s just the beginning. I mean, that’s pretty much enough – that we are unconditionally loved and nurtured by the Source of all Being is pretty spectacular – but verse 2 continues saying “And that’s just the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up!”
I love that the idea that we’re children of God is not the end point of our spiritual journey, but the beginning. Being God’s child is not our goal, it’s our birthright – our starting point – our foundation. And with that as our launching pad who knows where we’ll end up! The future is unwritten – your future is unwritten, it’s not predestined and pre-decided. God hasn’t planned your life out for you. God has planted Godself at the centre of your being, and is inviting you to embrace that and run with it – together – you and God – God in you.
Listen to all of verse 2 now: read on