Friday, April 26, 2013

New commandment

 This week's sermon text is the new commandment from Jesus - Love one another.  
And I'm thinking I'll just tell the story about him washing the disciple's feet, sending Judas out and then telling them that this is what he expects of them in the glorious future.  

David Lose's blog link to the happiness project challenges me to think if the worship experience is "useful" to folks.  If it helps them in their daily lives.  If it helps them grow spiritually.  And I think if anything could help us grow spiritually, it would be intentionally pushing ourselves to love.  To do and say the loving thing.  To increase the well being of our family and friends and neighbors and enemies.  To serve.  

So I don't know where I'll go with that.  But I also think this quote from Simone Weil fits.  I think she was the mystic that Diogenes Allen had us read, to my chagrin.  I see this fitting in that Jesus says "Glory" five times before he commands them to love.  And this quote seems to tie love (goodness) with glorious things.

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” Simone Weil


pastor cindy said...

This is from David Lose:
I am absolutely convinced that a primary reason that church as we know it is failing is because our people do not know the biblical story well enough to find it useful.

“Useful” may be an odd word for many when it comes to the Bible. Either because we don’t think of the Bible as useful or because we think we’re not supposed to think that way! :) But let me explain why I think it’s an important term.

I believe that we’ve moved from what I would call “the age of duty” – when you did things (PTA, Rotary Club, church) because you knew you were supposed to – into what I would describe as “the age of discretion” – when you have so many possible opportunities and obligations that you pick only those that make a tangible difference to you. In this newer world of relative abundance (at least in terms of opportunities) the one thing that is scarce is time. And so we end up spending time on the things that make a difference, the things that help us navigate and make sense of our lives in this complicated world.

pastor cindy said...

John Jewell:

Jesus issues what would seem to be a very difficult command. "Love one another." ....[** interesting language note here: "One another" ( Gk. "ah-lay-lohn" ) means literally, "each one -- every other one! That is to say -- no exceptions]

And he quotes Romans 5:5 - the love of God is poured into your hearts. What if we prayed for that love to be poured into our hearts for the people we don't love. Individuals in the church. "Welfare queens" or "muslims" or whoever we think of as part of some group it is OK to hate or look down on. Each one is an individual. Can you love one?

The power of the church to make a difference in the world is not the power of right belief - or of right belonging. It is the power of right behaving. Love is a behavior.

pastor cindy said...

And this is the right rev. nathan baxter's take on it: (Less profound, but simple to understand)
I am the eldest of three very strong­-willed boys. When I was growing up we had all of the fights and arguments you can imagine of rambunctious boys. Sometimes our disagreements would get so intense we would go to mother to have our righteous indignation ratified. She would often say to us, "You boys go back and resolve it, but remember you are brothers." "But Mom," we would reply, "he took my ball; he said I was a liar." "Mom, he broke the rules." But all she would say was, "You boys go back and resolve it and remember, you are brothers." It was eventually clear that what was most important to Mother was that we behave, in such a way that demonstrated our bond as brothers. This was even more important to her than our resolution (which she also expected).

I think this is what God says to the church. "I know you have differences, but you must struggle to resolve them as brothers and sisters. This is what I expect of you because you are my children."

Jesus said it this way in the Gospel of John: "By this, everyone will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" [John 13:35].

pastor cindy said...

The Rev. Hugh Eichelberger (Pres. Dead)
It is unfortunate (but true) that many in the church believe that love is simply something you feel. There is the notion that love is simply the warm feeling that one gets in church when something is said that moves you. Or when a child is baptized and we feel touched. Such moments may be the seeds of love, but it is not love until it gets beyond feeling and introspection to some kind of doing, living commitment. He calls us to love one another as he loved. That love was incarnational. It was love in action, in ministry, in life style.

This is not an easy thing that we are called to do. It will mean we must struggle to love the stranger, the enemy, those who have hurt us or betrayed us. For it is precisely this kind of person that Jesus loved when he loved his disciples. It is precisely this kind of person that Jesus loves when he loves me and he loves you. He loves this person who does not deserve to be loved. He loves this person who is often trapped in some prison of introspection. His love never gives up on us. It never quits. It continues to reveal itself in action

pastor cindy said...

David Lose again:
Think about it: when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, Judas was there. Further, he will now demonstrate just how much God loves the world by dying for those who manifestly do not love him. Love is hard because it is self-sacrificing. It means putting the good of the other first, even when it hurts.

I find it striking that these are the words Jesus’ leaves with his disciples. I mean, he could have said, “Go out and die with me.” Or, “keep the faith.” Or, “when I am gone go out and teach and preach to all the world.” Or, well, any number of things. But instead he offered this simple and challenging word, “love another.” Why? Because this kind of love is the hallmark not just of God and Jesus but also of the Christian church. As in the old camp song, Jesus agrees that the whole world will know we are Christians not by our sermons or our sacraments or our festivals or our buildings or our crucifixes or our family values … but by our love. It’s just that important.

Second, having set the scene so that we can hear again and anew the import of these words, remind us that we actually can and often do love one another. Sometimes the love command seems so challenging we assume it’s an ideal, a lofty goal that none of us will ever reach. But while we may not love perfectly, we do love, and sometimes one of the most powerful things you can hear in relation to a command is the affirmation of your ability to keep it.

So invite your hearers to recall a time this past week when they chose love. Perhaps it was looking out for the interests of a colleague, or overlooking the slight of a friend, or putting aside one’s own goals to help someone else achieve theirs. Maybe it was a large act of love, or maybe it was much smaller. But each of us, I’d wager, did in fact “love one another” this past week and it would be good to call that to mind