Rev. Sue Latourette serves the Congregational Church of North Stonington and works with Habitat for Humanity as well as Keeping North Stonington Affordable, Inc. (knsainc.org) to educate about and build healthy, safe and affordable housing in our area.
Scripture: 1 John 3:1-2 (NRSV)
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
No matter how often I read certain scriptures, something new stands out. In the texts for April 18th, what stood out were words I’d normally associate with the courtroom.
In Acts Peter says “to this we were witnesses” (3:15b). 1 John 3:4 says “Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Then, after Jesus reveals knowledge to his disciples, he says: “You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:48)
This made me think about how language can either welcome or repulse depending upon one’s background and experience. Anyone who has had scripture quoted at them to punish or ostracize might be put off by the legalistic sounding “witness” or “testify.” On the other hand, when we want to encourage the preacher we might call out: “testify!” or “witness!” And this is what is happening in our scriptures today.
In my congregation we might not use the word “witness” to describe reaching out to other; we do it all the same. The writers of Acts, John, and Luke all witness their experiences and understanding of who Jesus was. We are invited along to share our own experience of Jesus. I don’t really resonate with Peter as he tells people they were wrong. I can’t think of anyone who is receptive to that. I do find myself in harmony with the writer of 1 John, appealing to listeners to see how much love God had for us in Christ that we are all children of God.
I believe this. I believe this because the presence of Christ has been revealed to me, over and over again, through the words and actions of other Christians. Give me all the words you want to make a case for faith. That is logic, which doesn’t really move me.
Experience, on the other hand, settles in our bones, our souls. When someone writes you a letter of thanks, who drops off flowers or a book or a plate of cookies; who listens to you even when you know you aren’t making sense - that is the Emmaus road experience. It is Jesus’ love and presence made known even when, or maybe especially when, you don’t ask for it.
As your children, O God, help us reveal your love and presence to a world that doesn’t yet know you. Help us all to see through Your eyes the possibilities and promise inside each one of us. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving for the more than 558,000 dead due to the Covid-19 disease
- For the victims and their families of the 140 mass shootings already carried out in 2021
- For the people of Myanmar where violence continues against pro-democracy protestors
- For the people in Minnesota, where protests erupted yesterday after the police shooting of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For those who keep fighting, keep calling out for justice, and never give up even as injustice becomes a norm and the majority look away
This Week in History:
April 12, 1861 (160 years ago) The U.S. Civil War begins as Confederate forces fire on the Fort Sumter in South Carolina with 50 guns and mortars, launching more than 4,000 rounds on the fort. Union officer Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort 34 hours later. President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers to quell the "insurrection" the next day. This began a four year war that resulted in an estimated 620,000 dead soldiers and countless civilian deaths.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”