What am I talking about? I am pondering the concluding sentence of the very short Johannine reading (John 13: 31-35). It is all about love. According to this text, love is the litmus test which shows who are true followers of Christ.
It seems so simple, yet in practice it can be quite difficult. Of course, love is many faceted, if anyone wants to look at all the different aspects of love I’ll recommend + Andy’s book Love as a Guide to Morals.
Interestingly, the compilers of the lectionary chose to pair this passage on love with a story from Acts (11:1-18). It seems the disciples had already forgotten about loving one another so needed a sharp reminder. Peter had a vision all about eating, what was clean and what was unclean. For emphasis it was repeated three times. The details of the vision are not so important, but the message is. This loving each other, as an expression of discipleship, was expansive. It wasn’t just for those who were “in” — their friends, those who followed the same religion or were from the same cultural background. Loving one another extends to everyone.
Yesterday, once again there was a horrendous attack, a mass shooting at a supermarket in upstate New York. Terribly sad, our prayers today will be for the victim’s families and the recovery of the injured. The preliminary findings show that this was a racially motivated attack. Sadly, the message the lectionary brings today still has not been heeded. It makes me feel heavy inside, why is it so hard to love and accept everyone? How in 2022 is our culture still in a place where there is a perceived need to attack anyone who looks, thinks, speaks, dresses, eats, resides, feels, believes, acts differently from oneself?
I have always been a fan of C.S. Lewis. I’ve always loved the seven books in the allegorical Narnia series. In the final book, The Last battle, the protagonists reach Aslam’s Country. Surprisingly, they see a Calormene soldier, Emeth, there. Throughout the series the Calormenes have been the enemy of Narnia. Questions are asked, how can an enemy, someone who is so different be included in Aslan’s Country? Aslan explained that all the good done by Emeth was good done to Aslan, even if it was not acknowledged as such. Interestingly, the inclusion of this story line all about love and acceptance brought critical reviews of Lewis at the time he penned it.. Personally, I think it was a great storyline moving towards inclusion.
In the community we have often said “all truth is God’s truth”. Today, I want to add all love is God’s love. As I glance around locally or read of kindnesses done all over the world, even in the midst of acts of hate like seen yesterday, I see outpouring of love. Love is a reflection of God and well worth recognizing as such wherever it is found.