May 6, 2018 Easter 6
Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
Love each other!
Love and Obedience
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen. Psalm 19:14
Alleluia. Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Spring has finally sprung. It is amazing how a little warm rain turns everything green overnight. Albion is beautiful with flowering trees. I pass by orchards and vineyards on my way to Albion. I have been watching the farmers or vinedressers pruning their grapevines for several months. It seems to be a slow exacting process to cut away the dead, unproductive branches and to prune the productive branches in preparation for this year’s yield. It is easy to see a well maintained vineyard and one that has been neglected or abandoned.
I find it difficult to prune and trim as important as I know it is. It is so hard to nip back a chrysanthemum even though I know that it will be fuller and have more flowers if I do. Dr. Trisha Franzen was saying the same thing a couple weeks ago at the Albion Community Gardens on Jefferson Street where she was pruning the fruit trees. It is hard to cut away healthy branches even when you know it is for the health of the tree and future fruit. One does have to be careful in pruning and trimming, accidents can happen as I found out nine stitches later as I was pruning my forsythia bush a few years ago.
Our Gospel readings are currently from what is known as the Farewell Discourse in the Gospel according to John. The setting is an intimate dinner party for Jesus and his closest disciples or what we have come to know as the Last Supper, a time of teaching and companionship before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Jesus is teaching his disciples what it means to be his disciples, followers of the Messiah. He has washed their feet to teach that their role is one of servanthood. There will be no fancy palace or clothes. Jesus’ way is not one of power, might or violence. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, the one sure path to the Father, to God. Jesus teaches the importance of obedience and love. God loves Jesus. Jesus loves God. God loves Jesus. Jesus loves his disciples and commands that they love one another just as Jesus has loved them. Jesus has been obedient to God’s commandment and now asks his disciples to be obedient to his commandment: “Love each other as I have loved you.”
God is in Jesus and Jesus is in God. Jesus assures Thomas and Philip that as they have seen Jesus so they have seen the Father. This is all very circular and makes the head spin, but Jesus promises his disciples that if they love one another then they too are part of this circle of love. God is in Jesus and Jesus is in God. Jesus is in the disciples and the disciples are in Jesus. God loves Jesus, Jesus loves the disciples and the disciples are to love one another. If the disciples accept Jesus’ command to love each other then Jesus is with the disciples and God is with the disciples, the disciples are with Jesus and the disciples are with God.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus’ job is to love God’s people, to heal the sick, to reach out to the marginalized, to reveal God to his people, to obey God’s commandment even to death on a cross.
John tries to explain what it means to abide in God’s love. The Old Testament teaches that the vine is Israel and God is the vinedresser, but Jesus claims the vine as himself and the disciples as the branches of the vine. God is the vinedresser or the farmer who maintains the vine to maximize its productivity of an abundance of fruit. When we cut a branch off of a grapevine or an apple tree that branch will wither and die. It can no longer produce a bunch of grapes or an apple. The branch must be attached to the vine or the tree which is the source of water and nutrients for survival and the production of fruit. In the same way we are the branches of the vine. If we are cut off from Jesus then we will wither and die and will not be good for anything other than to be thrown on the fire and burned. We must remain in the love of God and of Jesus in order to be fruitful, to be healthy and strong.
In our Adult Formation Class we have been studying Willis Johnson’s book “Holding Up Your Corner”. The key learning is that we should engage with our surroundings so that we can see when something is not right, or “righteous”, can affirm those suffering the injustice and can act to correct the situation or in the words of Pastor Johnson, “Acknowledge, Affirm & Act”. Imagine what it would be like if each of us was to love all those in whose presence we are. Whether with our families, our friends, the church, the grocery store, at work Jesus asks us to obey his commandment to love each other. Amen.
Mother Darlene Kuhn
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