Our Gospel reading for today continues in the Eastertide theme of life in relationship with God. The Gospel reading for last week (which we didn’t read in worship) was about Jesus being the vine and the disciples being the branches. If you’d like to go back and read it in preparation for this Sunday, the gospel text for last week was John 15:1-8. It speaks of the relationship between the vine and the branches, abiding in one another, and the branches being dependent on the vine in order to thrive and bear good fruit. In our reading for this Sunday, Jesus continues with that language and presses this point, the life-giving connection between him and his disciples, as he prepares them for his upcoming departure. It’s as if he’s saying, “Even though I won’t be here in person, our connection is real and will be more profound and necessary than ever.” And then, as one often does when giving last minute instructions, he circles back to something important and something he’s said before, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Jesus talks about his love for the disciples and their love for one another using the language of friendship. And, even as we read his words, we might find ourselves asking, “How do we, frail, fallible human beings even come close to fulfilling this commandment?” I hope you’ll join us on Sunday to wonder and pray and think and dream about that very question. We will also recognize Mother’s Day on Sunday. We lift up the mothers among us and give thanks for their being! We also acknowledge that Mother’s Day can be hard for many people for a whole host of reasons. Please know that, on this day that can be tender for many, there is a place and a space for you.
We had our first Worship Watch Party in the Fellowship Hall last Sunday and we continue with our dual opportunities for 9:00 am worship on-line and in the Fellowship Hall. No reservations are required to attend the Worship Watch Party on campus but all will be asked to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines and if we have more people than can safely be in the Fellowship Hall, we’ll seat people outside with an audio feed of the service. I hope you’ll join us for worship this Sunday as we offer our praise and thanks to God, as we connect with God’s love, community and call and as we explore our faith together. You are also invited to join the Wednesday Bible Study that reviews the scripture and sermon topic from the previous Sunday and reflects on the questions of the week. If you’re interested in joining us from 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesdays, please reach out to the church office or Pastor Lori for more details.
John 15:9-17 (NRSV)
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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
“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 if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Questions to consider:
- Why would Jesus “command” us to love one another? Does that language make sense to you in this context? Why? Why not?
- What has friendship meant to you in your life? Who have become your “family of choice” via friendship? What does it mean to you to be called “friend” by Jesus?
- How have you experienced or not experienced abiding in Christ?
- What does your heart and mind tell you about where and how PBUMC can more deeply love as we move out of COVID-19?
- What is the invitation or word of grace for you in this text?
Why would Jesus “command” us to love one another? Does that language make sense to you in this context? Why? Why not?
I’m reading–with Denyse–The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. In two chapters about the heart, he challenges me to be in a state of love continuously. He calls it “open.” And to stay “open” no matter what or who. This is just the beginning of my practice, although my primary spiritual teacher told me when I was 22 to “love everybody equally.” It seems like my divine master, Jesus, would of course “command” that I do this.