[The following meditation was based on the hymn, “God Loved the World” (Hymn 323 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship). It was published in Lenten and Easter Devotions (2012) by the East Kentucky Conference of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.]
“God loved the world.” Everything begins there, with a love that made the world, sustains the world, and redeems the world. We tend to think of this relationship as an opposition: God on one side, the world on the other. These words remind us that God doesn’t see it that way.
In fact, God is so head-over-heels in love with the world that God does crazy-fool things with and for and in the world, all the time. Things like free will, and mosquitoes, and causing the sun to shine on evildoers as well as on those who do good. Things like quarks, and dinosaurs, and coming among us to live and suffer and die. God sends the world flowers and blue-footed boobies and rainbows like some love-sick teenager, undeterred by rejection or indifference or outright hostility.
It’s easy during Lent to focus on our failings as the cause of Jesus’ advent. But it’s not really about us in that way. Although our sin might provide the occasion, it is not the reason for Jesus’ coming—love is. Jesus lived and died and was raised because God loved the world. Let us live and die in hope because of that love.
Love-struck God, help us remember that your love is all around us, even in things we do not see and in ways we do not understand. Lead us to love the world as you do—truly, madly, deeply—and follow the example of Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.