2018-05-06 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato
LOVE IS ON THE MOVE!
If you were here at our Maundy Thursday service (March 29) you would have found yourself caught up with us in the story of Jesus’ last supper…and before they supped, Jesus made a radical move…he washed his disciples’ feet. In first 1st C jewish culture, this was unheard of! Teachers and mentors did NOT wash their follower’s feet. That was the work of house slaves and servants.
The disciples were in awe. Jaws dropped. Wide-eyed in wonder.
Peter blurts out: “no, no, no! You will NEVER wash MY feet!”
And remember what Jesus said?
“Do you know what I have done to you?
Yes, you call me teacher and Lord, and you are right for that is what I AM.
So if I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet…”
The disciples continue to be in awe…trying to make sense of this “turn your world upside-down” moment.
And then the zinger. This is what a Maundy Thursday service is all about…
Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means mandate,
or command. And so Jesus’ last Thursday with his disciples is the night of the mandatum nova -‐- the new command:
Jesus saying: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one
another. (John 13:34-35)
Now Jesus then pads his farewell speech with many other radical exhortations and mind-boggling mysteries…but the heart of the message is this MANDATUM NOVA…
a commandment to love.
Fast-forward an hour or more in this evening speech and here we are in chapter 15.
Jesus affirms that he will continue to comfort and care for his disciples and in last week’s sermon Jeremy reminded us that being at “home” (abiding with) Jesus for these disciples would be like being in the hands of and under the care of a thoughtful, intentional gardener and vineyard keeper.
But it’s not all resting in the Mediterranean sun and sipping red wine with an endless supply of pita and hummis being brought to the table…there’s work to be done!
And in 15:9 we learn of the Christ-follower’s labor of love.
The disciples are in an upper room of one of their relatives, sharing a meal in humble digs, gathered round a low-level table and sitting on the floor, some of the disciples are even leaning on each other…and some historians make the comment that the beloved disciple, John, would have been seated alongside Jesus, with his head close to the heart of his galillean teacher.
Jesus adds another layer of texture to his new commandment of love.
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love….
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.
YOU are my FRIENDS…I have called you friends because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father… I chose you! I appointed you!
…Love one another.”
We are ALL friends of Jesus this morning…did you know that? Be assured of it!
And as the friends of Jesus, it sounds like we have a common call…
So when Jesus tells us to love one another…how deep is this love?
Well rest assured, friends of Jesus, that when Jesus says “love” he’s talking about that “I’m gonna get and change all the cosmos with my love” kind of love.
John 3:16 (style) – – For God so loved the whole cosmos that he gave…
That sure resonates with the greater love that Jesus is talking about here – – a love where a life is laid down for the other.
–So, perhaps we should pause for a moment and think about our lives and world-changing love…
Let’s pause to think of a moment/season of our lives where LOVE was truly changing the trajectory of our lives.
Perhaps it was a wedding day… your own, or the wedding of a friend or relative.
Perhaps it’s a part of your Christian journey… that moment when the relentless love of the Community of God…found you…and you welcomed the love of God into your heart, body, mind and soul.
Perhaps it was a practical moment … or a mystical moment.
As we look ahead to our time at the table of the Lord today, I hope that communion is an encounter with love. That when you eat of the bread and the cup you know that this is not a place for shame or judgment… it’s a table of love, love as the bread of life, nourishing you…love being poured out for you and into you…
As we reflect on the life-changing dynamic of Christian love, I want us to ponder the Thomas Merton prayer found in your bulletin today – because I hope that this prayer gives us a way or inspiration to continue our call as the friends of Jesus…and to live the way of love in practical and meaningful ways.
O God, We Are One With You
(Thomas Merton 1915-1968)
Love has overcome
Love is victorious.
O God, we are one with you.
You have made us one with you.
You have taught us that if we are open to one another,
you dwell in us.
Help us to preserve this openness
and to fight for it with all our hearts.
Help us to realize that there can be no understanding
where there is mutual rejection.
O God, in accepting one another
wholeheartedly, fully, completely,
we accept you,
and we thank you,
and we adore you,
and we love you with our whole being,
because our being is in your being,
our spirit is rooted in your spirit.
Fill us then with love,
and let us be bound together with love
as we go our diverse ways,
united in this one spirit
which makes you present in the world,
and which makes you witness to
the ultimate reality that is love.
Love has overcome.
Love is victorious.
In these final days of Easter, though it might sound cliché or seem obvious,
Can we renew our commitment to love one another?
Let’s take a phrase from Merton’s prayer and run with it in the power of the resurrection for the next 14 days…
What might your phrase be?
–openness to the other
–rooted in God’s spirit
–bound together with love
The encouraging news, friends of Jesus, in a world that is so prone to tear apart/fall apart…Love is here! Love is on the move!
The love and care that is happening in our church is pretty fantastic.
In some ways, it’s miraculous.
Not because we’re great Christians, but because all (or it seems like a lot!) of us are pulling in the same direction. We are, as our vision statement says, “seeking the peace and well-being of the city” but I’ve had the privilege & the gift of time, to hear many stories of our congregation over the past 10 years and I am encouraged and inspired by the way that y’all give, serve, encourage, share meals, support, celebrate, weep, lament…with one another…in the name of love…and it’s not a shallow love, it’s a love that has kept this church together through the lean years + the bountiful years…
It’s a love that is poured out because our living, resurrected Christ, has poured his love
and his life into “our” beings…into your beings…and you are bringing to life the truth…that…
Love has overcome.
Love is Victorious.
Thanks be to God, who through Jesus, our resurrected Lord,
has loved us first.