God loves you!

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - CHURCH - SCOTT STEW­ART Pea Ridge United Methodist and Bright­wa­ter Methodist churches

At a pre­vi­ous church I served, the youth al­ways sat in the bal­cony sec­tion of the sanc­tu­ary. After much thought, I de­vised a ser­mon in which I could use the bal­cony sec­tion. The premise of the ser­mon was about at­ti­tudes and how we never re­ally got rid of them, but only re­tooled them into some­thing else that we would keep. My ser­mon idea was to have five bad at­ti­tudes each writ­ten on a piece of pa­per. Dur­ing the ser­mon I would hold each one of the at­ti­tudes for the con­gre­ga­tion to see, then I would wad it into a small ball of pa­per and toss it into the trash can — which was in front of the pul­pit. There was a sixth at­ti­tude, the at­ti­tude of love, that we needed to keep. In­stead of toss­ing this one into the trash can, I would fold it up into an air­plane and sale it up into the loft where the chil­dren of­ten sat dur­ing wor­ship.

Each day I would re­hearse the ser­mon the make sure that I could make all five of the at­ti­tudes into the trash can. What would it say if I missed one of the at­ti­tudes? Proper aim and tech­nique were needed to make sure all five with him through the waste­bas­ket. At the end, I would fold the air­plane and sail it into the loft. Dur­ing the re­hearsals, all went well. Imag­ine the cool­ness fac­tor in­volved in such a ser­mon.

Sun­day morn­ing ar­rived and I was ea­ger to get to the ser­mon. My con­fi­dence level was stel­lar. I launched into the ser­mon and ex­plained how we needed to have New At­ti­tudes. I held up the first neg­a­tive at­ti­tude “Hate,” wadded it into a pa­per ball and tossed it into the trash can in front of the pul­pit. It went in with ease. I did the same thing with the re­main­ing for at­ti­tudes: re­venge, envy, self­ish­ness and jeal­ousy. I must ad­mit that one or two did roll on the rim of the bas­ket be­fore even­tu­ally top­pling in. All that was left to do was hold up the one on love, talk about how we need to keep love with us, fold into an air­plane and sail into the loft. We would be lift­ing love up into heaven!

How­ever, I failed to con­sider one thing that had not been present dur­ing re­hearsal. The air con­di­tioner vents were in the ceil­ing and dur­ing the re­hearsal the air con­di­tioner was off. Dur­ing the wor­ship ser­vice, the air con­di­tioner was turned on and was blow­ing air through the ceil­ing and side vents. While this did not af­fect me throw­ing the pa­per into the trash can, it had a se­ri­ous ef­fect on the flight tra­jec­tory of the pa­per air­plane! When I threw the pa­per air­plane into the air, it ap­peared the go as planned. How­ever, the plane got caught in the air cur­rent pro­duced by one of the air con­di­tioner vents. The pa­per air­plane then went into a nose­dive ul­ti­mately hit­ting the ad­min­is­tra­tive board chair­per­son Roy S. Thank good­ness the pa­per air­plane was a light­weight. “What a dis­as­ter,” I thought to my­self. Roy took it all in stride and pro­claimed, “Maybe God is telling me I need to work on that one!”

The core be­lief that God is love comes back and hit us in the face in times we don’t ex­pect. How many times have we been told that God loves us only to re­al­ize that we have not been so lov­ing, kind or faith­ful. The love that God has for you is far be­yond our hu­man com­pre­hen­sion. Such love is be­yond our abil­ity to grasp with our minds, but it is not be­yond our abil­ity to ex­pe­ri­ence with our hearts.

•••

Edi­tor’s note: The Rev. Dr. Scott Stew­art is the pas­tor of Pea Ridge United Methodist Church and Bright­wa­ter Methodist Church. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the writer. He can be con­tacted at revjstew­art@gmail. com or 479-659-9519.

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