Sixth Sunday after Easter

Acts 10:44-48
Psalm 98
1 John 5:1-6
John 15:9-17

What's love got to do with it?

It's hard to live In this world and not be Of it. We find that we have been taught a lot about self-worth, a lot about self-sufficiency, a lot about self-empowerment; and that has gotten us (both Matt and Laura and American Society) a lot of Stuff. Really - Stuff. But it seems that for the past 10 years or so, we've (Laura and Matt) have grown more disenchanted by the worth of our "self" and more concerned for what we ever learned about loving our neighbor. Because in spite of what we have picked up living "in" this world, it seems that We are all Interconnected.

And as we work on shaping the more junior lives in our world, those named Brook, Emma and Paige, we find it tough to find good models for putting love of neighbor instead of self first. To start with, it's not how the preadolescent mind is wired. We are pretty sure the child development experts are with us on that. But surely there is a window or a rite of passage that can turn our minds away from our self and our ability and our security and our with and good looks and toward the rest of humanity...better yet, the rest of creation.

This week, our lectionary passages are pretty tightly focused on the theme of Love and Faith. And the Love in question is really an outward facing, universal, brotherly-sisterly love. No holds barred love. Love just because you are love. Not exactly "of" this world.

The Psalm is a love song to God...for he has done marvelous things. There is so much joy. And this joy seems to be rooted (in this selection) in the reality that God will judge the world with righteousness and the people with equity. It must have been sung by people very assured that God loved them and that they loved God. How sure are we of that on a minute by minute basis? It's fascinating to read this Psalm and then choose just about any chapter in Lamentations and feel how quickly circumstances can change.

In the passage from the Gospel of John, Jesus is speaking with the disciples. He's linking his love for them to the love he has received from the Father. Jesus has experienced a model for the love that he is about to ask his disciples to have for one another. He invites the disciples to abide - to live - in his love, and then says that if they keep his commandments, they will indeed abide in his love. There is a condition. What does it mean, then, to Love? We don't get a lot of detail here, except that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for another. Ah, to Love, we set ourSelves aside?

In Acts, Peter is with a crowd overcome by the Holy Spirit. This is a mixed crowd, and the Jews are amazed that the Gentiles are having the same experience with the Holy Spirit. And so, the question is asked, how can they withhold baptism from these Gentiles if they have also experienced the Holy Spirit. Now read in the midst of the other selected readings for the week, we're sort of kind of pattern. Jesus chose his disciples and commanded them to love. God has loved his chosen people Israel and as a result, they await his righteous judgment. There is a selection that is taking place, and when you are selected, you are compelled to obedience in some way - love or righteousness or faith.

Finally, in the first letter of John, we get this notion that if we love Jesus (or God, you can really read this a couple of different ways), we cannot help but love other children of God. And somehow, this love should compel us to obey God's commandments. Ah, there is this notion of obedience again. Somehow, love begets obedience. Or somehow, we are swept up in this love relationship that naturally compels us to love and serve and embrace and include.

Wow. Not exactly a self-empowering investment of energy. But energy, without a doubt.

What makes it easy for you to love another?
What kind of love do you have for the person sitting closest to you right now?
How do you know that God loves you?

Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isnt hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

You may say Im a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

(Imagine all the people sharing all the world)

Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say Im a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

Imagine, by John Lennon

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