550 North Broad Street Canfield, Ohio 44406 • 330-533-3531

Second Sunday of Easter

Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!
​
I’d like to begin today by discussing this question: What is the difference between reading/hearing about a person vs. actually meeting, being in the presence of that person?
​
With this in mind, over the next few weeks, we are going to study the book of 1 John and discover the answer to this question: Why is it so important to our faith that it be incarnational…that is, a faith that God’s presence came into this world in bodily form…rather than belief in a solely spiritual, other-worldly existence? And what does this mean for our lives?
​
We will hear different passages from 1 John over the next 6 weeks. The first thing for you to know is that 1 John is a different book from the gospel of John. There are actually two more books that follow 1 John…2 John and 3 John. The tradition teaches that both the gospel and these 3 additional books were written by John the Elder, believed to be one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples. If you read enough of the gospel of John, you will notice that 1 John carries a lot of similar themes. Already in this opening passage for today, we hear the reference to walking in darkness versus walking in the light…that is a very Johanine concept.
​
The background of 1 John…it’s audience, the time period, the issues it addresses…is not as clear as it is for some other New Testament books. What we do know is that this letter was written to address some believers who had broken off from the established community of believers because they had sprouted some other beliefs that were different. They believed that Jesus came in spirit, not in body. In that case, they also did not believe that Jesus experienced real death. Their beliefs were very spiritual but did not touch life in any real way. With nothing but a spiritual Jesus, Jesus himself did not touch life in any real way either. In other words, the faith they talked about didn’t much matter in the way they lived.
​
This is what John addresses in this letter, and what we are seeking to understand over the next few weeks. We have a tendency to spiritualize the faith, especially being this far removed from when Jesus actually walked the earth. This is completely different from those who say they are spiritual but not religious. John’s letter is for those of all times and places who become “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good” as the saying goes. It is for those times when we get sucked into beliefs that remove us so far from what is happening in our lives and the world around us that we can have no impact whatsoever.
​
We can easily fall victim to this type of faith, this way of thinking…to say,Jesus has been raise from the dead…so as long as we worship him and speak his name often, we will be with him in heaven after we die or when he returns…whichever comes first. But a faith based solely on this understanding is incomplete. What about the life we live right now?
​
The way that John begins this passage is a great reminder for us…”We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” John makes it plain that this word of life is not just something spiritual, something other-worldly…he and others experienced it with their senses…they heard, they saw, they touched. You can’t do that with a spirit. But Jesus was more than spirit…Jesus was the Word made flesh. Jesus had a body, and that body was pierced…
​
That body grew and changed and aged as Jesus matured. That body walked and talked and ate with sinners and outcasts. That body suffered, died and was buried like every other body on this earth. This fact is important to John’s message, because Jesus came to change THIS life, to change THIS world that God may be glorified HERE and NOW despite all of the opposition that sin and the world can raise. Jesus used his body to touch human life in ways that God had never tried before. It was so important for God to demonstrate that God’s place was not far, far away, untouchable by humanity…God’s place was to touch humanity in real and transforming ways, especially through Jesus’ real death and resurrection.
​
John holds firm to the fact that faith in the risen Christ means faith in the presence of God at work here in this world, first through the life and death of Christ, then through the life of his followers. Faith in the risen Christ is incarnational…God’s presence among us is always embodied in some way, always expressed through humanity in some way, first in Jesus, now in his followers. John goes into more detail about how throughout the rest of the book.
​
In this passage today, John calls all who claim to be believers back to the original teaching…that this faith is really an experience with the risen Christ here in the midst of our everyday lives. John is not trying to excommunicate anyone for their misguided beliefs. Instead, he calls them to repentance… “if we confess our sins…God will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It doesn’t do anyone any good to wallow in their misunderstanding or to stubbornly deny any misunderstanding. John encourages us to confess our misguided beliefs, repent of them and enjoy the benefit of forgiveness and a restored relationship with God.
​
An incarnational faith…faith that God comes into this world in real, tangible ways…is central to who we are as Lutheran Christians and how we live our lives. We worship as an assembly, a body of believers…we make decisions as an assembly, a body of believers. It is in and through Christ’s church, that is, through us, the people, that God’s power of new life and hope touch our world today. We even seek the strength to carry out that mission in the meal of Holy Communion, where Christ is embodied in bread and wine, that we may see, feel and taste the presence of Christ touching us. [Today, we will be joined in this meal for the first time by Emma Parker and Breanna Joki…every new person who joins us at the table makes our joy complete].
​
Alleluia, Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Upcoming Events

Oct

Fri 19 Pastor's Sabbath

4:00 AM - 1:00 PM :: 9 Hours

Sat 20 Worship Service

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM :: 1 Hours

Sun 21 Worship Service

6:15 AM - 7:15 AM :: 1 Hours

Wed 24 Choir

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM :: 1 Hours

Fri 26 Pastor's Sabbath

4:00 AM - 1:00 PM :: 9 Hours

© Lord of Life Canfield All rights reserved • powered by iMprivacy policy