Today's Lectionary Text
1 John 3:11-24
For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.
I read a quote the other day of Dorothy Day’s — she said, “we cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other.” Love isn’t just the warm fuzzy feeling -- it’s hard work. It’s hard work to know each other and love each other. It takes vulnerability, commitment, laying aside bias and viewing each person with the eyes of Christ. This passage tells us that we pass from death to life when we love one another (not just the people that look like us, love like us, sound like us, believe the same as us). Whoever does not love abides in death. How can we say we are abiding in God’s love when we see those in need and refuse to help?
My favorite, though, is “let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” It’s fine and all to say we love others -- it also needs to be manifested in truth and action. This could look like all sorts of things, but we have to go beyond just words. Love in action can be volunteering at a food bank, serving at a meal service for the underprivileged, being available to families who are working the harvest or families in your community that are in need. Love in action can be calling or writing your congress person, attending a vigil or protest, acting in solidarity with groups who are marginalized and allowing their voices to be elevated. It can mean standing up for injustices and resisting evils within an institution, being present for a friend or stranger in a time of need. This is knowing people and loving people and loving God.
In a meditation I read last week from Father Richard Rohr, he says, “Our job is to love others the way God has loved us. In my life, I've experienced God's unearned love again and again. God has persistently broken the rules to love me at the level I needed, could receive, and was able to understand throughout my life. The magnanimous nature of divine love keeps liberating me at deeper levels, and then I think that newly discovered level of love is the deepest. But it's a journey that never stops giving.”
Can we love others the way God has loved us? Can we share the liberation we’ve experienced in this divine love over and over to others — no exceptions? This is our calling as a child of God — to love one another as God has loved us — in truth and in action.
I challenge us, just as the youth at Youth 2019 were challenged this last week, to make a commitment to Love Well — write it down and most importantly remember your commitment.
Administrative Assistant to Clergy Recruitment and Registrar
Prayer for Reflection
Divine Love, move us to love in truth and in action. Give us courage to give the love all. May we love well, may we love whole heartedly, may we love from the abundance we’ve been given from you.
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