Hymn- Jesus Loves Me
Larry Bender is preaching at Ada Chapel today, and we do not have a copy of his sermon, so the sermon for today’s virtual worship will be a short reflection, rather than a sermon.
Drum roll please……starting today, Ada Chapel is restarting in-person worship. If anything were to change in the future about in-person worship, we will be sure to keep everyone informed. Here is what you need to know about re-opening:
1.) Friends should not feel pressured to return to meeting if they are not comfortable doing so. Worship will continue to be posted every week on the Ada Chapel blog for Friends who wish to continue worshiping at home.
2.) If you are not feeling well on any given Sunday morning, please stay home. We want to protect those among us who are high-risk.
3.) Masks will not be required, but if you have been wearing one regularly, wearing it to worship is encouraged.
4.) There will be hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes set up throughout the meetinghouse so that Friends can sanitize their hands, and so that we can wipe down common surfaces, such as hand rails, pews, and hymnals.
5.) Friends must spread out in the pews. Sitting in family units is fine, but leave some space between your family and the next family.
6.) Friends must be respectful of other Friends’ space. Congregating after worship, hugging, shaking hands, close talking, etc. is discouraged.
Wilmington Yearly Meeting has decided not to hold this summer’s yearly meeting sessions in person, but to hold them via Zoom. Yearly meeting sessions are July 23-26, 2020. As we receive more information about the schedule, we will announce it.
Our country. All those who are in harm’s way. All of those who are sick, or who have loved ones who are sick. Healthcare workers, first responders, and all those who continue to potentially expose themselves to infection. Our neighborhood and our community. The family and friends of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks. Wilmington Yearly Meeting. Our leaders in all levels of government. People in the recovery community. Parents, children, the elderly, and others who are isolated. Everyone who is feeling discouraged. All of those who have lost jobs, or who are struggling financially during this time. The young people of WYM who won’t get to go to camp this summer. Those who are grieving. Those who are feeling anxious about the spikes in COVID 19 infections.
Hymn- In The Garden
Do you believe that Jesus loves you, as you are?
Romans 5:6-11: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
When I first started preaching at Ada Chapel, and I was told that it is Ada Chapel tradition to begin every single meeting for worship with the hymn, “Jesus Loves Me”—I have to admit that I inwardly rolled my eyes a little. Every single meeting for worship had to start with “Jesus Loves Me”? Seriously? How monotonous is that? Didn’t anybody ever get tired of singing a kid’s song every Sunday and want to try something new? Something a little more poetic than “Jesus Loves Me”, perhaps? But here we are, three years later, still singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the start of every single meeting for worship. Somewhere along the way, that little kid’s song became just as meaningful to me as it was to all of you, and I wouldn’t change the tradition of singing it at the beginning of meeting for worship even if I was given permission to. “Jesus Loves Me” has worked on the parts of me that can be pretentious over the years, and I have come around to embracing the hymn and to looking forward to hearing on Sunday mornings that Jesus loves me.
There is a phrase that has become popular recently, especially on social media. It goes something like, “God loves you as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there.” And this phrase is true. God desires to have a relationship with His Creation. And the nature of relationships is such that relationships do not work well if they are one-sided. If we are to pursue a relationship with Jesus, then we have to put in the effort of following Him. We must allow God to transform our hearts. We must make the choice to love God and to love our neighbors. We must listen and obey, and do what it is that we know to be the Christ-like and holy option. This phrase necessarily reminds us that discipleship is hard, and that striving for holiness is part of the deal. As anyone who deeply loves another person knows—child, sibling, friend, spouse, parent, whoever—love doesn’t mean that we let people off the hook. It is important for people to who seek to follow Jesus to know that there is some accountability on their part. I wholly believe that we don’t just get to call ourselves Christians and do whatever we want.
And yet, I also wholly believe that sometimes, we need to cut the second part off of that phrase, rest in the fact that God loves us as we are, and sing a rousing rendition of “Jesus Loves Me”. True love is always unconditional. That’s simply the nature of love. That’s how it works. Love means that a person is loved and accepted for who they are, as they are—warts, sins, regrets, and all. And that’s exactly how God loves us. Paul says it right there in Romans 5—the proof for how very much God loves us is that He suffered execution on a cross for us, even though we were sinners. We don’t have to earn God’s love. We don’t have to try harder—we don’t have to achieve some level of holiness before we are worthy of it. We are simply loved, as beloved creations of God.
When we are pretentious and opinionated, God loves us. When we are loud and obnoxious, God loves us. We are wrong, God loves us. When we hurt another person—intentionally or unintentionally—God loves us. When we make stupid decisions, God loves us. When we are motivated by fear and aren’t thinking clearly, God loves us. When we are irritable and we find ourselves snapping at people, God loves us. When we are ashamed of ourselves, God loves us. When we are lost and hopeless, God loves us. We have a responsibility to work alongside God as He turns the trash that we create into beauty, love, and wholeness. But we are wholly, solely, and undeniably loved.
You are loved. God loves you. If you are finding that those words are a salve to a wounded and cracked soul, take as much time as you need to immerse yourself in them. If you don’t need those specific words this week, then tuck them in your heart for later. This has been a crazy year, and if you haven’t already found yourself needing to know that Jesus loves you—you might find yourself needing to know it as the time stretches on.
Jesus loves us, Friends. This we know. For the Bible, experience, and the song all tell us so.
Hymn- It Is Well With My Soul
Ada Chapel Prayer
Father, we thank thee for the night; and for the blessed morning light. For rest and food, and loving care; and all that makes the world so fair. Help us do the things we should; to be to others kind and good. In all we do, and all we say; to grow more loving every day. Amen