the one about love...
March 30, 2018, 12:00 AM

Sermon from March 29, 2018 - Maundy Thursday

Text: John 13:1-17, 31b-35


Grace and peace to each of you on this – the beginning of the three most holy days in our lives of faith. Will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, we enter this Maundy Thursday – Command Thursday – hearing from Jesus this new commandment that he has given them. Love one another.

Love each other, like I have loved you. When you do this, everyone will know who you are and who you follow because of the love that you share with and for one another.

Love. In English it is a strange word. It’s strange because it is a single word that is designed to encompass so many different meanings. One of the more ‘fun’ things that I get to do as a pastor is to teach confirmation. It’s always enjoyable to look at those young middle schoolers and ask, “Do you love your friends?”

Most of the time, especially from the boys. You hear, “NO WAY! I don’t love them!”

But, then we get down to what love means. Do you care for them? Are you happy when they are happy? Do you like to hang out with them? When they are hurt (or you are hurt) do you want to see them feel better? Do you worry about them? Do you hope that they get to do the things that they want?

Almost all of them say, “Well, yeah…”

So, again… Do you love your friends? If you put it that way pastor… Yes.

This evening as we hear Jesus speak, he helps broaden that definition of love. The love that Jesus has for them is to be lived out in their love for others.

When we began this trek to these three holy days and Easter, we heard from Bishop Munib Younan about what our faith lives encompass. Where – as followers of Jesus – our lives, our actions, our very beings are wrapped up in the care and love of those around us.

We live this life of faith for others. This life of faith isn’t about us. It never has been. We continually proclaim and follow our Lord who is adamant about that. That we follow in the ways of the one who goes out of his way to care for those in need; who cares for those who are hurting; who cares for those who need to hear of God’s love.

Doing that put Jesus and his disciples in interesting situations. It meant that he dined in the homes of those that have been socially outcast. He ate and surrounded himself with those who the majority thought were ‘worthless.’ He broke bread with tax collectors. He cared for those with disabilities. He mingled with foreigners. He touched the untouchable. He treated everyone he interacted with equality through love.

He gave space to those who had no voice. He gave prominence to those who were put down. He entered into the presence with those who no one wanted to be near.

He showed what it meant to love one another.

And in that love, he put himself at odds with those in power. He put himself at odds with those he grew up with. In that love, he constantly pushed back against the ‘status quo.’

In that love, he was proclaimed as a blasphemer, a rabble rouser, as someone needed to be killed because of who he gave hope and new life.

In that love he put himself below the title and accolades that others foisted upon him. He was questioned – constantly – about why he could/would/should do such a thing. Questioned by those outside his band of followers and questioned by inside that circle.

The love that Jesus showed stretched and continues to stretch what we know of as ‘comfortable.’ Stretching to include all the things, actions, and people that we have been told to ‘not do or be around.’

Where the world tells us – you can’t love this person because… Jesus has gone to them too and invites us as well.

Where the world tells us – this is something unbefitting of a person in ‘our’ stature… Jesus continues to call us to serve in that love.

Jesus has shown throughout all the gospels what it means to love in the way that God loves. What it means to love one another as he has loved us. It isn’t easy, it continually shatters our views of what we think the kingdom should look like and forms and shapes it into what God has intended all along.

When I was a beginning ‘baby pastor’ I remember having a conversation about the life of faith with the people I served. One individual stated, “I don’t see why everyone can’t do this. Just be nice and show up to church. It’s easy!”

I asked, “What about the person we read about in the papers today who caused so much hurt and pain, do you love him? What about that jerk in school so many years ago who made you feel small, how do you pray for her? What about those people that the world has told you to ‘be against’ because of where they are from, can you help them move into their new home?”

With those questions, “well when you put it that way…”

Loving one another is difficult, not because of what God calls us into, but because we have such a twisted view on what love is and how and who we should love. It’s easy to – so much easier – to allow ourselves to turn away from those that need care. Where we might fear what will happen to us – we’ll be rejected, taken advantage of, won’t be able to do enough. Where we live into the words of Peter in our reading this morning and say, “No Lord, don’t wash my feet.”

Because sharing and receiving love in such ways makes us uncomfortable.

Yet, our Lord calls us to live into that kind of love. And we know that our Lord will be present with us in those moments. Our God has promised to be present with us and we have been reminded that there is nothing that separates us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The love that our messiah calls us into puts us in positions that will be uncomfortable, puts us in moments that we will be vulnerable, leads us into actions that others might view as ‘less than’ in a multitude of ways.

It won’t be easy – it never is. But, we do not enter into these moments of love alone. Of course we have our Lord with us every step of the way, but we also are gathered together in service and love as well. We don’t ‘love’ alone.

We all are called into these opportunities to love as our Lord has loved us.

And there’s this really cool thing about being a part of this community and kingdom of God that is formed, shaped, and lived out in love. When you’re living this life of faith loving the person – all the people – in front of you, that means someone else is loving and caring for you. All are being loved and our Christ is continually guiding us in that love, service, and faith.

Love one another as Christ has loved us. In this way, people will know who we are. Love each other. Love. Amen.

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