I have sent this reflection out the last few years on April 16. I hope you will obliges me the chance to share it again. What follows, more so than anything other than my salvation, has shaped who I am as a person, a pastor, a husband, and a father.
I don’t normally read from the King James. Here at Asbury I preach from the ESV and from occasion on the NLT. In the past I’ve read from the NRSV normally because it’s the standard pew Bible edition for most United Methodist Churches. I also like the TNIV, even though they are no longer making it, the NIV, the Message, and most all of them. I always tell folks read the Bible that speaks to them.
But, when I quote scripture off the top of my head, I quote the King James. Why? Because it’s what I grew up reading and hearing, and it’s what scripture still “sounds” like to me. Especially the Psalms, or John 14 (in Father’s house were many mansions).
And the passage I’m thinking about this morning. When I think of John 15: 13, I always hear it in the KJV
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
See it was on April 16, 1978 that no great love was shown to me.
On April 16, 1978, my mother was murdered. She was killed as she was walking out of our house, with me in her arms. She was walking out of the house because she did not want me raised in an abusive situation, in a situation full of drugs and destruction. She was walking out of the house because she wanted me to have a better life.
She was walking out of the house because she loved me.
And in that, she laid down her life for me. Literally. I sometimes tell folks I have the burden and blessing in my life of having had two people lay down their life for me, Jesus and Mama Sarah.
And, every day I wake up and know that I am here, I give thanks for no greater love.
And every time I look at my daughter Sarah and mourn over the fact that she will never know the grandmother she was named for, I give thanks for no greater love.
Every time I look at my grandparent that adopted me, even though they had raised their kids already, and had other plans for life, I give thanks for no greater love.
And every time I get the chance to teach my children about what love looks like, I give thanks for no greater love.
Today is a bittersweet day. I have no doubt that I am and have been loved. I just wish the price weren’t so high.
But, greater love hath no man (or woman, mother, or father) than this, that they lay down their life for their friends.
I give thanks for no greater love.