Listen to and sing UMH 287 O Love Divine, What Hast Thou Done written by Charles Wesley, Methodist hymn writer extraordinaire and 18th child of Samuel and Susannah Wesley (whew!). The tune SELENA was applied to this hymn by Isaac Woodbury 108 years later. For a deeper understanding and appreciation for this hymn, click HERE. For contemporary songs, try David Crowder Band’s How He Loves Us and Francesca Battistelli’s Beautiful, Beautiful.
God is love – and through the life of Jesus we see that love in nonstop action. Sometimes it’s calm and gentle, at other times it overturns temple tables in a rage, standing up for justice and reverence.
Christ demonstrated His love for us at Golgotha. As How Great Thou Art reminds us, “He bled and died to take away my sins.” He told us we can’t love both God and mammon (an Aramaic word that means riches, wealth, and anything to which one lusts). He reminded us that those who obey His two commandments are the ones who love Him (John 14:15-17). These are not easy, sterile descriptions of a mild, lukewarm love. They speak of a gutsy, willing-to-do-anything love, the same kind of love Jesus had for his disciples, for us and this world, and that took Him to the cross.
Jesus also taught us that those who have been forgiven much will love much (Luke 7:47). Worship is a response to this gutsy love. Meeting in-person is the ideal experience for worship and certainly what we are used to doing, but there are times when it isn’t possible because of work, travel, illness, caring for others or a pandemic. I think that in these times it helps to have the whole picture of Christ’s heart and character: the active, compassionate, tender, teaching, healing Christ, and also the sacrificial Christ who is suffering, dying, rising, ascending and reigning.
I am glad to hear that many of you are finding ways to worship online and support one another. Our President has extended the federal guidelines through April, so we are making plans to have all April Sunday services online, either in real time or tape delay. We will send out an email letting you know is happening. Our Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church is helping with resource lists. Your ideas have been very helpful to me, too.
These are times that will test our support for Bethany when we can’t be together in person, and for one another. God will help us and see us through, but it will take a determined, stubborn, gutsy love to care for one another, be in community, and keep Bethany strong in love, in prayer, in ministry and financially. With our online worship presence, we are “startin’ from scratch” in a hurry, and I take comfort in the fact that
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness. – Lamentations 3: 22,23.
I ask you to join with me in the love that flows freely and absolutely from heart, mind, and soul in response to all we have received. A consuming, gutsy offering of love and life made in reply to God who first loved us. – Pastor Mike