Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. –Ephesians 5:1

If you could only put one word on your gravestone, what would it be?
One word that shows up on headstones a lot is “beloved.”  This is the word that God uses to describe Jesus when Jesus is being baptized in the Jordan River (Mark 1:4-11).  God’s voice comes from heaven as Jesus is being baptized and says, “This is my beloved son.” 

There is a book entitled Beloved by Toni Morrison which is set just after the Civil War ended.  Beloved is the only word on a headstone in that story, and also the name of a character who shows up about halfway through the book.  Morrison tells an intense story about the horrors of slavery that makes us consider what it really means to be beloved.

Words affect how we think of ourselves, just as much as they affect how we think of each other.  Words form our identities. 
We might not always act like people God loves, but we are. 

“The word beloved means 'dear, favorite, worthy of love.' It’s a word that implies an action on the part of the one doing the loving. The God of the universe, the same God who paints a sunset, shapes a mountain and plans the waves at the beach, has chosen to love us, not because of who we are, but because of who He is. Our role in this is to BE-LOVED.“[1]

So if we really were to need just one word to put on our gravestones, to sum up our lives, to tell the world and ourselves who we are, I think maybe the best word is “beloved.”
Last Sunday I gave the congregation a business card with that word on it.  Business cards are what we leave behind so people will remember who we are.  This card says who we are:  Beloved.

And I challenged them to make this their word for 2015…a word to ponder.  What does it mean to be beloved?  How does that word affect how you see yourself?  How you see the world?  How you see the people around you?  How you see God?  How you relate to God?
We are beloved.

We don’t have to earn that.  We don’t have to boast about it to make it real.  We just have to accept it...accept that Jesus died for us, for our forgiveness, even if we don't fully understand it. 

The reality is that words can be just words, or they can be words we take to heart….words we truly believe…words that affect how we live.

When life isn’t going well, we might think maybe God doesn’t love us, but remember that Jesus was God’s beloved son and yet he was beaten and crucified.
We are still beloved even if we do the wrong things.  We are still beloved even if someone treats us badly.  We are still beloved no matter what anyone else says.

We are beloved.  What will that word mean to you?


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