God So Loved The World

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Look Ye Saints"1 (Lyrics)

Recently, the church choir of which I am a member sang the beautiful motette "God So Loved the World" by Bob Chilcott. Yes, my friends, it's a setting of the well-known verse, John 3:16.

The text is set in contemplative phrases that gently rise and fall with a haunting soprano solo over the second half. As we practiced, the leader asked us to sing more quietly.

"Don't push it. Let the text set the dynamics," she directed. "These words are so well-known that we take them for granted."

We followed her instruction, and as the words floated up on the music in our lovely sanctuary, my arms became covered in goose bumps. It was truly what I like to think of as a God moment.

But as I revelled in the beauty of the music and the meaning of the text, I asked myself if these words are as well-known today as they were when I, as a Christian child, was asked to memorize a Bible verse or more each week. My mind wandered back to the year when, in the 1990s, I studied the Bible as literature at McMaster University. Before the professor could teach his course, he had to give a crash course in who the main characters of the Bible were. Otherwise, his course would be void of the rich symbolism that permeates our western literature. A large percentage of the class couldn't differentiate between Noah and Moses.

It is a sad paradox that in this information age, when we have the accessibility and freedom to know the Word, we don't take the time to study it. Though there are more translations in more languages than there ever were, many of us don't take even a few minutes a week to read, not to mention memorize something as basic as John 3:16. While we sit for hours at a computer for work or play, many of us forget to click on an online version of the Bible. When we choose gifts for our grandchildren, do we shy away from purchasing a Christian story book? When a young person is struggling with a problem, do we remind them that prayer is also a way into their problem? We forget or never learn that regardless of our human state, God sacrificed the most precious thing He had for our sake — His Son.

So I ask myself: Will my grandchildren be like my classmates who don't know who John was, let alone what he wrote?

Who will they turn to when they are left to face challenges without knowing that "God so loved the world" that He gave His only begotten Son for their sake?

Should they have to face war or famine like my mother did, would they be able to count on His mercy the way she did in order to survive?

Will the story of Jesus be taken for granted in the hearts of their children?

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, in this time of contemplation and ultimate joy in the celebration of Your Son's resurrection, help us to find the opportunity to share Your story and Your love with young people. Help us to give them the comfort of knowing that our God loves them. Help us to teach them the Word so that they and their children will not take the gospel for granted. We ask this in Jesus' precious name. Amen.

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About the author:

Valentina Gal <valentina.gal52@gmail.com>
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen Valentina.

    Thankyou for a needed devotional as my husband is on the threshold of crossing over. We have had 60 years of a good marriage for which I am truly thankful.

    This is one powerful devotional. I wish I had been there to hear the service. I know I pray for my son, daughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughter to hear and know God’s love.

    I agree with what you are saying. We live on a short street and not One child attends Church or Sunday School. It is simple why – the parents do not go so how can we expect the children to be there! Nothing on religion at School, or at Home!

    Such an appropriate daily devotional. How many of our children and/or grandchildren do not attend church on a regular basis? How do we reverse this trend? The answer obviously lies with us to educate them to the wonderful benefits of belonging to a church family.
    Thank you for today’s devotional, a keeper!!

    Thank you for for your ‘devotional’ and he song!
    The music on here is the same as my Mother used way back in the 1950’s.
    She never had any music sheets, where she got the melody from I don’t know.
    We children learnt the melody from her by ear, and always sang it on Good Friday.

    Oh Val so much work for us to do. Thanks for the reminder.

    Dear Valentina:
    Your story about your Bible as literature class and the need for the professor to explain the various Biblical characters reminds me of my own experience with a Renaissance Art class in college. Since the overwhelming majority of Renaissance is based upon either Christian Religious or Classical themes and symbols. The professor had to take two sessions to explain the Christian and Classical themes, characters, allegories and numerology to the bulk of the class so that they could understand the paintings, sculpture and architectural mechanics. Several of the students protested against his taking time to explain the “religious content” of the artwork as a being a violation of the Constitutional requirement for a separation of Church and state (this being a public university). His response was: If you don’t know the background and symbolism, you can’t understand the art and Christianity was a major influence which they would have to accept whether they liked it or not.

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