Fifth Sunday in Easter
First Reading: Acts 11:1-18
Second Reading: Revelations 21:1-6
Gospel: John: 13: 31-35
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you.”
Gospel: John 13: 31-35
Jesus’ farewell to the disciples, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. The final dimension of our salvation, which includes eternal life in heaven and our eternal glory of God.
We are glorified with Christ, and the promise of sharing in Christ’s heavenly glory given to us through his death and resurrection.
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”
This commandment has to be one of the more famous bible verses and even people not active in a church, knows this verse (John 13: 34-35.) Or one maybe similar.
Loving one another is part of the Jewish tradition and as we see in our first reading today,
We see how the Lord has shown Peter the way in preparation for his going to the house of Cornelius.
At the time, No Jew would think of going into a Gentile home, much less eating with Gentiles.
Jesus has clearly told the apostles to go into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature.
But in the apostles thinking and their centuries-old Jewish way of thinking, they thought that Jesus meant for them to go and preach to Jews who were scattered all over the world.
The thought of preaching the gospel to pagan Gentiles coming to salvation without first becoming religious Jews was simply unthinkable.
But it happens for Peter, he has taken six Jewish believers with him to Cornelius’ house, who witnessed what God was doing.
They all say the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles in just the same way as He had fallen upon the believing Jews on the Day of Pentecost.
And Peter has to go back and explain to the Jewish people.
He says: “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning’ He remembers how John had said, I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
Not just in our time, but for century’s we try to separate certain groups of people from God. But Jesus teaches us that we love one another just has he loved us.
We love because God first loved us.
We love because Jesus commands us with a new commandment to have love for one another.
We love because we have been loved in Christ.
How to love others? Does this mean we have to love…embrace everyone and tell them how much we love them? No… although it wouldn’t hurt, but people today have trouble loving others that are not like them.
Loving people we know…. can come easy to a lot of us. I was fortunate to grow up with a very loving family. We can say it’s in our DNA and I do love people.
I have several friends that didn’t come from parents that would show them any affection at all. Their parents never told them that they loved them or showed them any kind of affection.
So, guess what? when I say to them “I love you” …in response… I get kind of a muffled… awe-hum! They do care…it’s just harder for them to express it. I found out, that the more I say, I love you the more and more they become receptive to it and start showing signs of saying “I love you back.”
Loving those with who we agree with or those we feel are like us, is the easy part.
But loving the rest of the people we come in contact with, is much harder and the opposite of love is hated and it is harder to hate someone then it is to love them.
At President George Bush funeral, the former Senator Alan Simpsom stated that President Bush would say that hatred corrodes the contain it’s carried in.
For Jesus, love did not mean a sweet sentimental feeling, it meant action in our everyday lives. It meant actively loving and putting our love into the world, community and loving everyone as Jesus wants us to do.
We have an opportunity as Christians and disciples of Christ to learn, talk, live the requirements that have been given to us.
To strive for justice and peace and love for all people we meet. You may have heard, read or you have gone to The Episcopal website, if not you should.
Our presiding Bishop Curry has The Way of Love is a way of life. It is more than a program or curriculum; it is an intentional commitment to a set of practices. It’s a commitment to follow Jesus: Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest. It is a Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life.
We so often draw lines in our lives on just who we will love and who we will be tempted to cast out or loving them less for what they look like or who they are, if they are not like us.
It is an interesting thing to note in the verse today, is that Jesus is reminding the disciples that they will be known to others by their actions of loving (verse 35).
It’s important to listen to this commandment, because we are called to love others as a mark of our own discipleship.
There is one more thing I want to say…. I love you all! Let’s practice a Jesus-Centered Life.
Rev. Lola Culbreath