John 13: 31-35 (Inclusive Version)
Once Judas left, Jesus said… “My little children, I won’t be with you much longer. You’ll look for me, but what I said to the Temple authorities, I say to you: where I am going, you cannot come. I give you a new commandment: Love one another. And you’re to love one another the way I have loved you. This how all will know that you’re my disciples: that you truly love one another.”
I just got off the phone with Bill. The MRI results came back early and no brain tumor. The relief in his voice came pouring through the phone line: he seems buoyant. We talked about how this whole experience of living with the fear of a very serious diagnosis has left him alert to life and grateful for its many gifts.
We all retreat, from time to time, to a space where we are looking out at life as if through thick, dirty airplane glass. We see outside, but feel no wind on our face and hover with some distance above the particulars of the daily journey.
The words ‘possible brain tumor’ are powerful enough to startle any one of us back to a space of noting the wind on our cheek and giving thanks for caring relationships. Bill was so appreciative of all of the prayers over the past two days and kept calling us ‘God’s angels on earth.’
The more time I spend in and with this community, the deeper I sense the connections that are here. The power of long-term friendships and the ways that unfolding, tender new ones can give profound encouragement and hope. The mystery of relating to people, with all their particular bumps and bruises, yet somehow also participating in the body of Christ. Bill offers us all a simple reminder which echoes the scripture passage of the week: to love one another fiercely is our work.
In this week’s passage from John, Jesus didn’t have time to mess around. Normally one to wrap complex lessons in tight little parables, in this moment — with Judas en route to give away his whereabouts — Jesus tells it like it is: Love One Another. Love, he says, will mark you as students of mine. Love will be your witness to the world.
He articulates the message in a way a child could understand and yet there is a spiritual depth to this directive which humbles the lifetime practitioner.
As I prayed for Bill and Willie yesterday, I rested in the knowledge that many others were carrying them in their hearts and abiding with them in the pain of not knowing. It feels so good and right to be part of a community whose members give one another the gift of accompaniment, to help keep the worst of the fear and darkness at bay.
Church really is a simple project and our foundation is love. Yes, at our ecu-mergent artsy church, we celebrate creativity, enjoy good music, and food. We engage in interactive meaning-making in our worship services and give careful attention to the selection of life-giving theological paradigms and inclusive language. All of these practices point the way. And indeed comprise the Way. But the gift of sitting with each other at our most exposed and vulnerable, while not flashy, or postmodern or particularly hip, is undeniably central to being the community Jesus calls, even commands, us to be.
This week we continue our Eastertide book study with chapters 11-15 of take this bread by Sara Miles. In this section Sara wrestles with herself and her new congregation as she organizes a neighborhood food pantry hosted out of their sanctuary. The pages full of political intrigue, sneaky and screwy power plays, and raw emotions as a church cracks itself open to a new vision of participating in God’s work. Indeed, Sara herself seems to be coming undone in the process and lets us inside her ongoing transformation:
Join us this evening and Sunday as we talk about coming undone and redone for Jesus! as well as share some good food. (Indian Food tonight, Casa Semrad. 108 S. Rosemont. 6:30pm) 214. 233.4605 for more info.
Peace to you,
PS Alan continues to host the drop in book club Sunday at 10 am. He is making the coffee; bring your questions and together look for answers.