God’s Love in the Rainforest
by Hal Ernest
March 30, Monday – Psalms 51:1-18(19-20), 69:1-23; Jeremiah 12:1-16 Philippians 3:1-14; John 12:9-19
One year when I was in Africa with Reenie I was asked to do a sermon at a Salvation Army Church deep in the Kakamega Rain Forest. The only “sermons” I have ever done were a couple of homilies to fellow UT students at the Presbyterian Student Center on campus.
The first thing I realize was that I would have to make my sentences short and concise because I would be accompanied by a translator who would convert my talk into Swahili, the generic tongue of the congregation. Christian Kenyans are very devout. They know the Bible. The church was packed—mothers with babes in arms, old folks on crutches, families with scores of children.
Then, suddenly here comes down the road their Salvation Army marching band in full uniform playing with great gusto, the horns blaring, the cymbals crashing “Marching For Jesus!” The people looked at me with great anticipation.
I spoke, “What is the shortest sentence in the Bible?”
After the translation, a hand shot up with a shout, “Jesus wept!”
I then asked, “What is the next shortest sentence in the Bible?”
The translator spoke, another hand shot up followed by, “God is Love!”
I then said, “What is Love? GOD! GOD IS LOVE! And who does He love? YOU! And who brought that love to you?”
A child leaped up and shouted, “JESUS!”
Then, the congregation jumped and shouted, “JESUS! JESUS! JESUS!” That is the way my sermon went as over and over I laid examples of God’s Love through Jesus Christ, a love that is there for all of us every single day.
In the above Scripture passage, the beloved St. Paul tells us to rejoice in the everything while stressing we can only rejoice when we understand that the GOD OF LOVE is in charge, EVER OPEN TO YOU, when you WALK BY FAITH IN THE LOVE AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.
Image by Steve Garvie (used by permission via Creative Commons).