6th Sunday of Easter (B)
This is a beautiful text, don’t you think? It’s all about the love. As the Father loves the Son, so the Son loves us. Jesus tells us to just live in it. Soak it up. Make that love our home. Get used to it, he says. Abide in it. That’s the word he uses. Abide.
Then he tells us how deep that love is. It’s the kind of love that would cause someone to lay down their live for another. You are that important, Jesus says. You are that special. As the Father loves me, he says, so I have loved you.
…Well, isn’t that cute.
Sounds a bit trite, if you ask me. It’s easy to say. Jesus loves you, Jesus died for you, Jesus forgives you all your sins. I’m sorry, but to be honest, those are just words. Whether true or not, no one will believe the words just because someone says them. This is Mother’s Day, and I can say to Lois—the mother of my children—that I love her. I can say it poetically and at great length. And it would be good and right for me to do so. It may even be true. But what if, in spite of my words, I continue to act in completely selfish ways? What if my primary concern continues to be for myself, for my comfort, my likes, my career, my preferences, my life? What if her concerns, her fears, her career, her comfort, her life make no real difference in my actions toward her? How long before my words of love become empty and meaningless—an annoying gong, a clanging cymbal, as Paul wrote? I can tell you, it wouldn’t be long.
If I mean these words of love, it would be evident in my priorities, wouldn’t it? Her feelings would be a significant. The things that make her happy would be central. That which is best for her would be at the top of the list. Isn’t that love? Putting the other ahead of yourself? Not just saying it, but living it?
That’s what Jesus is about here. It’s more than words. Love is a willingness to lay down your life for friends. You are my friends, he says. This is not just a slogan. His love for his friends was lived out. He laid down his life.
But for many, even those are still just words. A nice story. Cute. Which is why Jesus tells us to make our home in his love, for it to be natural, a part of who we are. He commands us to love the same way he loves us. Because as the body of Christ, the church is the only Jesus many people will ever see. God’s love for them is best known by them through our Christ-like love for them. Laying down our life for them. This doesn’t necessary mean actually dying—you can love someone without throwing yourself in front of a bus to prove it—but it does mean putting their needs, their benefit, their life ahead of our own. That’s Jesus’ “laying down your life” kind of love.
Some of us, for instance, will throw food away tonight while children not very far from here will go to bed hungry tonight. What does “laying down your life” love look like here?
Some of us will buy yet one more electronic devise this month while others will try to figure out how to pay rent this month. What does “laying down your life” love look like here?
Some of us will be adding thousands of dollars to our 401k this year while malaria needlessly kills hundreds of thousands of African children this year. What does “laying down your life” love look like here?
As a congregational community, we do exhibit Christ-like, laying down your life, kind of love in some incredible and amazing ways. Paul Alexander, who takes all the Action Center donations from the bins every week, is always talking about how full those bins are—every week.
This Lent, we gave over $1600 toward the eradication of malaria.
Our own Green Mountain Elementary School Mentors invest about 150 hours a year in relationships with the students, helping with homework.
Quite a few LCM members volunteer at the Action Center, Habitat for Humanity, Lutheran Family Services of the Rockies, and even our own Meal Ministry. We provide lunches for grieving families—members or not—after they bury their loved ones. We make sure many who are deployed in Afghanistan know they are loved and prayed for through the “Loads of Love” ministry here.
We contribute generously through the ELCA World Hunger and through LWR every time there’s a disaster in the world.
Before any of that, we give away 10% of our congregational offerings out of love for those who need it most.
And yet, as generous as we are, we’ve been equipped—loved—for more.
Jesus says, “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you.” I appointed you for this. I love you completely and my love has taken root in you. It lives in you. You have that much love to give. So go, he says, love those that need it, bear the fruit of that love; it will make a lasting difference. Live my love in the world. Do it for the sake of our neighbors, so that they don’t just hear empty words of Christ’s love, but know his “lay down your life” kind of love.
Our council is committed to an expression of that Christ-like love. One of our goals for 2012 is for each council member to become involved in our neighborhood in a way that shows this kind of active love.
I invite you to do the same. Let Jesus’ life-giving love for you be lived out for the sake of someone else. Around the worship space are 13 local agencies who serve our neighbors in various ways. Plus some blanks for you to add others that you know of. We’ll take some time now for you to look them over, jot down some information, but most importantly, sign up for one or more of them to lay down your life for someone else. Our love is more than words. As Jesus loves us, so we love them.
. . . . .
During worship there were 63 sign-ups for one or more of the following:
- The Action Center
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver
- Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
- Colorado Talking Books Library
- Family Tree
- Foothills Animal Shelter
- Green Mountain Elementary School Homework Club (LCM)
- Habitat for Humanity
- Hope Ministry (LCM)
- Hospice of St. John
- Interfaith Hospitality Network
- Jefferson County Sheriff Victim Service Unit
- Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains
- Second Wind