This morning Rev. Welsch is going to speak to us on some selected verses from chapter two of the book of First John. Last week we set the stage by saying that this book was written to "reaffirm the beliefs of the community during a time of spiritual upheaval or confusion," which is a feeling we understand today. The author we call John uses themes that are familiar to us from the Gospel of John; themes of word and light and love and truth. There are also strong statements in here about sin, meant to correct the false teaching of some people who were trying to lead the community astray. John's goal is to build up the community, to make it loving and healthy, and our reading this morning is a direct continuation from last week, when we talked about the freedom that follows confession. So before I read this morning's text, hear again these few verses from the end of chapter 1:
If we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, the Son, purifies us from all sin.If we claim to have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and righteous will release us from our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
1 John 2:1-11, 15-17 from the New Revised Standard Version
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
Guest Preacher --
Our guest speaker today, Rev. Mirjam Welsch, was ordained in the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau, a German protestant church and a partner church of the New York Conference, UCC. She was a pastor in Germany for about five years before her family moved to Ohio in 2014. With her family -- husband Carsten, daughter Noa, and son Theodore -- she lives in Westerville and attends the Westerville UCC. She preaches in UCC Churches in the wider Columbus Area, has participated in the Clinical Pastoral Education Program of Ohio Health, and served as a Chaplain at Riverside Methodist Hospital.