Love One Another - Reflections 5-15-19

Texts for Sunday, May 19, 2019

5th Sunday of Easter

Acts 11:1-18 
Psalm 148
Revelation 21:1-6
John 13:31-35

Here again in John, we hear that we should love one another.

I've heard that in church my whole life. Actually, I've usually sung that most of my life. There are lots of Sunday School songs that this young Sunday School participant belted out. "God is love"
"Love one another" 
"I've got the love of Jesus down in my heart" 
"Love, love, love. That's what it's all about."

Love seems so easy. 
Love seems nearly impossible.

Some "impossible" comes from the list of people we should love. Elsewhere in the Gospels, we hear that we should love the poor, the outcast, the unlovable, even our enemies. Feels darn hard, if not impossible.

But in these verses from John 13, it seems that Jesus is saying that the disciples should love disciples, "one another". Oh, well that is at least easier.

Or is it? Right before this section, Jesus has washed the feet of his disciples. Then, right before today's text, Judas leaves the room (v. 27) to betray Jesus. Love one another? Maybe since Judas isn't there, he doesn't count?
Right after this text, Jesus announces that Peter is going to deny Jesus. Three times. Love is hard, if not impossible.

The Acts reading sounds like something right out of the headlines: The Church Holds Hearing. May Censure Apostle Who Was Seen With Those People. Our fractured and fiercely divided world writes a version of this headline over and over daily. Nations, religions, denominations, races, sexes, gender identity, split us apart. We criticize (actually too mild a word, isn't it) and condemn (that's a bit better) those who are other than us. 

And here in this story we see that the early church, who first received Love One Another, had exceptions and exclusions depending on the Other.

Love is hard, if not impossible.

But Peter, in his step by step story, has figured out that nearly impossible love thing. Truth is, we can't love in many cases. But the Holy Spirit does love with enough love to include all. Peter explains If then God gave them (the Gentiles) the same gift (the Holy Spirit) that was given to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?  

I really like that thought - not loving and accepting the Other is an attempt to hinder God. And God has a work-around for every attempt.

Peter figured out that the Holy Spirit makes possible the impossible. The Holy Spirit will carry you, through Jesus Christ, to love the other. 

The Church was silenced. 
Then praised God that new life was given to all through the love of Jesus.

Check out Psalm 148. All creation, all life, praises God.

Check out Revelation 21:1-6. God makes all things new and comes to dwell among us.

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245