by the Rev. Christopher Potter, Vicar
April 2, 2022
The Saturday night music group introduced a new worship song last week. It is one known by the children of the school, and has a large following among devotees of contemporary church music. The name of the song says it all: “Reckless Love.” It sings about God being careless with love despite who we are and what we’ve done. “I couldn’t earn it. I don’t deserve it. Still, you give yourself away,” the song goes. This profoundly complex theology of God both moves and confronts me.
Earlier this month, at the Bishop’s Committee retreat, we heard the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9), in which a sower throws seeds around like she was at a ticker-tape parade on Fifth Avenue. Rather than getting caught up in the judgments that normally attach to this parable (are you the rocky soil, the weeds that choked out God’s word, or the birds that abuse God’s blessings?), we found a story of a sower who casts seed recklessly, repeatedly, confident that someday it will flower and produce grain. The sower doesn’t circumvent soil that isn’t so welcoming. Instead acting like she knows her seeds are going to take root and grow eventually, she seeds time and again where the soil is hostile.
There may always be parts of me that question and doubt unconditional love. I am aware of past events and relationships that have wounded me and left me suspicious. However, I have met far too many people who have expressed similar feelings of unworthiness for me to consider my experience unique. When it comes to being loved so unreservedly, either by God or by another person, some of us hang on long enough just to find out when the limits of that love will reach its expected end.
I admit, though, that I know the experience of being loved unconditionally by another person; and coming from my daughter, I believe her! I notice something here, a nuance that has historically escaped me: in order to be loved by her, I have had to avail myself to her love free from expectations or prejudice. Perhaps this is the lesson I must learn about God’s reckless love. For me to receive it, maybe I must be unfettered by doubt and suspicion. I must ‘give in’ to the gift of reckless love to be transformed by it. Mistrust may be clouding my ability to recognize and accept the richness and beauty of the gift offered.
The one result of being able to receive such an unwarranted gift is that I think it would have the power to change me. If I could let myself believe in the fullness of being loved by God in such ‘careless ways,’ everything that could come between me and that love would be challenged and rejected. In other words, being loved unconditionally by God does not give me carte blanche to do whatever I want. Being loved in such a way requires a response of repentance (turning away from) and renewal.
I think some of this may be at stake in the Gospel story this weekend. The Anointing at Bethany is a story of unconditional love; one that may make us uncomfortable, and even warrant suspicion.
I can’t wait to have the story and its preaching change my life!
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We’ll see you at St. John’s this weekend:
• Saturday worship at 5 p.m. in the Chapel
• Sunday worship at 8 a.m. (in-person only)
• Sunday worship at 10 a.m. (in-person and ZOOM)
• Godly Play and Nursery at 10 a.m.
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Supporting humanitarian response to the crisis in Ukraine:
[Episcopal Relief & Development – February 28, 2022] Episcopal Relief & Development is mobilizing with Anglican agencies and other partners in order to provide humanitarian assistance to people fleeing the violence in Ukraine.
Working through the Action by Churches Together Alliance (ACT Alliance), Episcopal Relief & Development will provide cash, blankets, hygiene supplies and other needed assistance.
“Ecumenical and orthodox faith networks are on the ground in the border areas of Poland and Hungary,” said Abagail Nelson, executive vice president, Episcopal Relief & Development. “We will continue to coordinate with these networks, in order to meet the needs of people who have been displaced.”
Please pray for all those affected.
If you would like to support this humanitarian effort, you may 1) write a check to St. John’s, memo note “Ukraine”, and send via mail or drop your check in the offering plate; or 2) donate through the church PayPal link on our website home page, and notate “Ukraine”. St. John’s will forward donations to ERD. Thank you.
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See you at St. John’s!