This Sunday brings us to our penultimate sermon in this series. In the same way, the song “Bring Him Home” is near the end of Jean Valjean’s spiritual journey as he has endured judgement and fear, and has had to grow in integrity and authenticity. And in yet another parallel, Jesus is near the end of his ministry when he gives a new commandment to his disciples: love.
John 15:9-17 (CEB)
9As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. 12This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. 17I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.
Consider these questions:
- Jesus’ command seems simple in word and complex in practice. Where do you see the greatest challenge to love as you have been loved? Are sacrifices necessary to do this?
- Jesus lifts up his disciples from servants to friends. How does love lift you up?
- Where do you see possibilities to lift up others through love?
Post-Sermon Update on 5/7
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
Sunday’s message focused on Jesus’ words in verse 13: No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. In doing so, we explored Jean Valjean’s very real sacrifice for those he loved illustrated in the song, “Bring Him Home.”
We also expanded the idea of giving up one’s life to look at ways we might collectively consider sacrifice as change or as an expression of giving oneself entirely into God’s call. One example of this was discussed as a nearby San Diego congregation that elected to close as a church and to immediately re-open as Christ Ministry Center. Leaders during this transition truly thought of this as a time of death and resurrection.
Realizing that the original Christ United Methodist Church was no longer sustainable in a traditional sense, the South District, which includes San Diego, and then Bishop Mary Ann Swenson were willing “to name that and embrace a certain type of death with hope of resurrection,” [District Superintendent Myron] Wingfield said.
Source: Linda Bloom at umc.org (original article)
A video was shown in Worship and a more extensive video from NPR can be found below:
Consider these questions:
- How does this view of this scripture inform or affect your understanding of God’s call on your life?
- What do you feel called to sacrifice? To what end?
- How can you prayerfully listen for God’s voice in this conversation?