Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 6, 2018
Rev. Kathy Sullivan Vandenberg

In the book, Whisper, by Mark Batterson, he writes about a young girl named
Mary Ann Bird. She had a sever cleft palate that needed many many surgeries.
Because of her disfigurements, including she also was deaf in one ear, she
was teased by her classmates. It must have been terrible for her to feel
unloved and ugly during her school years. The parents did all they could do.

In the 1920's, teachers were to give every student a hearing test.
The student would come individually to the desk and the teacher would whisper
something into the student's ear. Mary walked up to the teacher's desk and
cupped her hand over her good ear to be better able to hear the words of the
teacher. She knew that if she could repeat the sentence aloud, she would pass
the test. Miss Leonard, her teacher, whispered word that changed Mary Ann's
life. Miss Leonard whispered, “I wish you were my little girl.”

God spoke these words into Mary Bird's heart. She was told that God loved her.
It can be very difficult to really, really believe that God loves us all of
the time. Perhaps, when we were growing up we did not have parents that told
us every day that we were loved. Perhaps, they did not say that we were
special or showed us we were special. Often, our parents did not learn the
value of expressing verbally that we were loved. Remember many times different
cultures or different times in history it was not discussed by doctors or deny
that saying I love you to a child and young adult was meaningful. For many
families times were tough. Feeding, clothing, and shelter were primary.

Churches often did not help educate children and parents of God's great love
for them. The primary purpose of the church was to prevent sinfulness. My
mother told me that one Sunday it was too cold to walk to church so she and
her brother and sisters stay home. On Monday, the sister made mother kneel
in front of a picture of HELL to pray for forgiveness. My mother never was
told how much she was loved by God.

Maybe several of you have had negative experiences of God. Do you/I really
believe that God loves you/me? If I ask you to raise your hand – would you?
God does more than like us. God loves us. God is fond of us. God has
loved us from the moment of conception and continues to love us in ways that
are unimaginable. We are always loved by God. God is telling us that:
I am God's beloved daughter!!!
I am God's beloved son!!

When we know we are loved all the time, everywhere, we can see and hear and
feel God's love. This means that we can feel secure in the knowledge that we
are a special person and a changed person because of God's ultimate Love.
We are secure, we are at peace, moving forth then to love others becomes
natural, easy, free flowing, continuous, and refreshing. Others may not feel
that they are loved by god all of the time. But by being loved by us they feel
a warmth, a freedom to relax and be the best person they are called to be.

Being loved by God and knowing we are loved by God is a exquisite gift.
Remembering daily, hourly, and each minute can and will make us relax and extend
loving actions to others.

This relaxed love, this serene love, this calming love of God not only transforms
us but transfers to every person we contact.

We are loved all of the time by God.
We are loved intimately by God.
We are God's loving daughters.
We are god's loving sons.

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