Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org


Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

May 3:

Call:       John 15: 1-5
Reading:    Psalm 22: 25-31 (753)
Text:       1 John 4: 7-21
Closing:    Acts 8: 26-31


Has anyone here ever encountered one of "those" children
    Who incessantly ask question, after question, after question?

And to whom we want to say,
    "Go ask your other parent"
    "You don't have to know why,
you only need to know that I say so"
or  "I'll give you a cookie if you stop asking questions."

It might have been  a sibling   someone for whom you baby sat.
Or maybe one of your own children
[In which case that child undoubtedly takes after the other parent]

Or maybe not.  Maybe not.  Let's change the question:
Does anyone here remember being one of those children?

I don't specifically remember being one
    But I think I might have been one.

I base this conclusion on two incidents from my school days.

At the end of seventh grade
My social studies teacher wrote on my report card,
        "Best of luck to my most challenging student."
My parents were not certain how to understand that comment.
    They wondered - albeit with surprise - whether their oldest son who was so well behaved at home   had been difficult in class.

I, however, knew what he meant,
    I had been the student who learned by asking questions
        And I would add,    asking good questions
    Mr. Sorenson liked teaching - and therefore liked my thirst for knowledge.
        Through it, I challenged him and he was thanking me.

The second incident was four years later,
    Also in Social Studies - this time American History.

A couple of my classmates had not studied for a scheduled test.

And knowing that Mr. Rhodes     also liked my "inquiring" mind,
they asked me if I would ask some questions
the answers to which would take enough time to delay the test to another day.

I was stunned that they thought this would work
    But I did ask some questions - again, I asked good questions

Mr. Rhodes got excited by my questions
    [I told you they were good questions!]

By the time he was done answering them,
The test had to be postponed to the next day.

I can only conclude
that my classmates had correctly identified me
as the one most likely to ask questions
good questions that is.

Questions like who, what, where, and how
        Are often easily answered with brief responses

But the question that parents either
Or  embrace as a sign of intellectual curiosity
        Is "Why?"

"Why is the sky blue?"
"Why does Bobby like him better than he likes me?"
"Why does music sound so good?"
"Why can't Jim sing?"

But there seems to come a time in our lives
when we stop asking "Why?'
or  At least we lessen the frequency of our asking.

That may make it easier on the person expected to answer
    But I think that when we stop asking questions,
we may be cheating ourselves
    And     even cheating others around us.

For when we lose interest in understanding "Why?"
    We allow things to continue as they have been
    Rather than grabbing the chance to make them better.

Our text today - from John's first letter - deals with love.
    In particular, it deals with love of one another
And anticipates and answers a "Why?" question.

This a concept from the second part of the Great Commandment

You remember the Great Commandment
[If not,    I have failed you.]
A scribe asks Jesus "Which is the greatest commandment?"

Jesus responds to the question
    "Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength"
    and then asserts, "a second is like it"
        'Love your neighbor as yourself."

We have heard this so many times that it is a head nodder
    "Yup!" we say to ourselves, "That's what Jesus said."

But our response needs to be more
than a nod of our heads     and     a verbalized "Yup!"

We should also ask,     "Why?"
    "Why do we need to love our neighbors?"

That is,    like my school questions were,  a good question
    After all, some neighbors are pretty hard to love.

John, in his first letter, answered that question
    "Because love is from God"

This is what he wrote,  [1 John 4: 7-21]

Why do we need to love our neighbors?
    "Because love is from God"
"God sent his only son into this world so that we can live through him"

    "it was not that we loved God
    but that    he  loved   us
    and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins"

John, (repetitively because he is trying to drum it into our hearts and heads),
points out what should be obvious to us,
    "if God loved us this way,
            we also ought to love one another."

And John makes us look into his mirror by asserting that,
"The person who doesn't love, does not know God ..."
and even,
    "If anyone says I love God and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar."    [5:20]

Finally he concludes his response to our question,
    "Those who claim to love God
        Ought to love
        Their brother and sister also."

To John - and hopefully to us -
        The fact that   love
is God's love   and is God as love
are the basis for God's expectation
that you and I love one another

That expectation, John makes clear is a basic premise of our faith
Having received God's love
How can anyone who calls himself/herself a Christian
        Not share God's love?

The beauty of this scripture is that it not only answers the question,
    But it inspires us, invites us, and encourages us
        To keep asking "Why?"

For:    Asking "Why?"
    Is not just an annoying habit some children have.

and     Asking "Why?"
    Is not just a way to delay a test for which some have not prepared

No! Asking "Why?"
    Is a way to learn and to understand.

So you and I, as we travel our faith journeys
Should never    be hesitant     to inquire as to "Why?"

Our answers may come from the scriptures
Our answers may come from our own successes or failures
Our answers may come from each other
    As we fulfill Christ's expectation that we love one another

The Ethiopian Eunuch in our closing scripture asked "Why?"
    He admitted he did not understand and sought a guide.
 [Acts 8: 26-31]

God answered the Ethiopian's questions by and through Philip.

So let's keep asking questions.
They may prepare us for the time
when God may answer someone by and through us.

And who knows,
maybe God will write on our report cards,
    "Best of luck to some of my most challenging students."