Preface: May the words I speak be only truth, and may that truth; let them express the love of God for everyone.
I hate admitting that I hadn’t been to church in almost a month until last Sunday… but “coming back” felt like God was speaking directly to me to welcome me back, especially in the readings of scripture. And then this Sunday’s readings brought last week’s readings into even more vivid light than they had been.
This week I was struck by today’s first reading, when Peter says that it makes no sense to deny Baptism – inclusion into this union – to anyone who has received the spirit. It makes no sense to deny anyone: welcome. We welcome you here in love because we can’t imagine it any other way.
Last week we read from the first book of John. The first sentence of the reading is: “Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God; everyone who knows love is born of God and knows God.” So begins descriptions of love and its importance to and of and in God. Twice in the reading we are called “Beloved.”
Beloved. Not a term you use for just anyone. A word for someone incredibly special. What more perfect emulation of God’s love could be there by assuring people – strangers! – that they are not only loved, but Beloved.
This week John continues by saying “we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey His commandments.” Now let’s look at the Gospel today: “this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” More love! And this time, we are told that God’s commandment is to love one another. Go back to earlier, when John said, “we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments.” This time John tells us that obeying God’s commandments is how we show love to God’s children. And God tells us that his commandment is to love one another. Love comes full circle. Love God, love one another, and be loved.
In theory it sounds easy. Of course we love God. We’re all gathered here by our own choice to celebrate our love for God. Our choice shows our love for God in here, in this building. I bet you all know what I’m going to say, but I’m going to say it anyway, or should I hand it off to Deacon Barbara, who reminds us every Sunday?
Let us turn toward the door where our journey truly begins!
Our journey is pretty clear after the last two weeks’ readings: love one another. We’ve heard it all before. We know how to do this; I’m sure we can recite at least a hundred ways if we all put our heads together.
But here’s the sticking point. We have to actually DO IT. Doing it is the hard part. We need to ask ourselves what keeps us from doing this? Are we too tired? Too angry? Too confused? Too “busy” in our own affairs that we forget about others (we’ve all been there)?
Let’s stop being too “whatever.” Let’s start small: I’m going to resolve to do at least one extra kind thing every day this week. What will everyone do? Will we let the Spirit move us into bringing God’s love out of the doors of this church? Will we structure and schedule things to make sure we do them so that we can get used to it and make it a habit? Will we continue doing what we have always been doing? What will we do to live in God’s love, and what will happen because of it? It is up to us.