It’s the Fifth Sunday of Easter. And we’re dealing with love. Our theme today in our resurrection living series is It’s a simple as this. We begin with our alleluias. And a classic Easter hymn, Christ the Lord is Risen Today. After reading 1 John 4: 7-21 and John 15: 1-8, I sing Come on people Now, smile on your brother try to love one another right now…and then it’s time for my reflection.
All you need is love… I remember when the Beatles sang that. Today I sang the Youngbloods’ C’mon people now…but I had found this amazing Youtube video with Joni Mitchell, Crosby,Stills and Nash and John Sebastian…people dancing around, twirling , tie –die, uh, wow…
There was once a minister who fell in love with a woman who happened to be Jewish. Not a few people raised questions about this. So he spoke to his friends. His priest from the Roman Catholic Cathedral said that it was a sign of God’s greater unity. And an associate at the church where he worked who said:
7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God .Seems like case closed.
It’s easy to get caught up in complicated conversations about theology and some people love complex doctrinal discussions, although I think fewer and fewer. On this 5th Sunday if Easter as we look at resurrection living, we’re making a simple claim….it’s about love. If we’re looking for Jesus this week, where have you seen, where do you see love?
One of the most moving images to come out of Baltimore last week was the one with over 100 clergy placing their own bodies between the demonstrators and the police. The most moving part was when the clergy kneeled in prayer, several of the officers in the front row facing the clergy removed their riot helmets. That took courage.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
It doesn’t always work: Rachel Corrie stood in front of a tank in Gaza. And got run over. It cost her her life.
The new life takes shape in a community in which people know that God loves and accepts them in spite of what they are. They there fore accept themselves and love others, knowing that no one has any ground on which to stand, except God's grace
I was asked to lead a discussion on the Confession of 1967 this week. The first pastor i worked with was one of its authors. That’s one of its basic quotes about what our new life, what our resurrection life is like. That document focused on a call to reconciliation, As we are called to reconciliation with God, we are called even more to reconciliation with each other.
I was also asked to speak on kairos Palestine…a statement from Palestinian Christian leaders reflecting in confessional language about their current situation. Had this to say about love:
4.2 This word is clear. Love is the commandment of Christ our Lord to us and it
includes both friends and enemies. This must be clear when we find ourselves in
circumstances where we must resist evil of whatever kind.
4.2.1 Love is seeing the face of God in every human being. Every person is my
brother or my sister. However, seeing the face of God in everyone does not mean
accepting evil or aggression on their part. Rather, this love seeks to correct the evil
and stop the aggression.
Resistance with logic of love…
Love casts out fear, but I have also seen that fear can cast out even perfect love. I’ve seen it over and over and over again…
The 1982 General Assembly had as its theme Love So Amazing. Ofelia Ortega, the delegate from the Presbyterian Church in Cuba said, No me tengo interes en amor maravilloso…me quiero un amor eficaz…I have no interest in amazing love. What I desire is effective love.
And as far as effective love goes, we know it when we see it. And as far as Resurrection living goes this week, it's as simple as that.
We sing Be Thou My Vision. We celebrate the Eucharist. And for our closing hymn Martha plays Beethoven’s Joyful, Joyful another Easter classic. We make our circle and sing our amens.