MAY 9, 2021
SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!
READINGS AND PSALM
1 John 5:1-6
Grace and Gloria Dei Lutheran Churches
6th Sunday of Easter, May 9, 2021
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus is nearing the end of his earthly ministry. His disciples have been with him for three years. They have seen Jesus cast out demons, heal the sick, give sight to the blind and enable the lame to walk. They have been with Jesus when he stilled the storm and fed five thousand people. Jesus has taught them many things about God, life, the world and themselves. Now, in this scene in John’s gospel Jesus sums up his ministry and his teaching. They are encapsulated in one word, “love.”
I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised by Jesus’ summation. Love, or the lack of love, is a powerful force in our lives. Songs, poems and books are written about love. A majority of movies and television programs are about love. Deep within ourselves we crave love and realize that love is vital to our existence. Most of us also realize that we cannot have a full life unless we love others, also.
We also know how fragile love is–how easily it can be ruined by hate, prejudice, judgmentalism, and lack of forgiveness. There are times when it is difficult if not almost impossible to love, because we have been wounded so deeply.
In the midst of all of our struggles with love, Jesus not only reminds us of its importance, but also instructs us on how to be centered in love.
The first key that enables us to be centered in love is found in verse sixteen. Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit.” We are chosen.
We’ve all experienced the tragedy of not being chosen. We might have not been picked to be on a team during recess or physical education. Perhaps we tried out for a part in the school play or for a position in the band, and we didn’t get it. We know how devastating this can be. For some people it’s an experience that leaves an indelible mark on their lives. But at the same time, we know the exhilaration of being chosen.
Our experience with love begins with our being chosen by God. This action by God is highlighted in the sacrament of baptism. We bring a child to the waters of baptism and proclaim that in those waters God has claimed the child as his own and has brought that child into his family. God’s action isn’t based on any good deeds that the child has done–because the child hasn’t had time to accomplish such feats. Instead, God’s steadfast, unchanging love is his motivation.
We can’t explain it. We don’t know why. All we can say is that God has taken the initiative and has loved us and chosen us. Because of this, we are forever different. We are forever blessed.
In verses nine and ten Jesus calls his disciples to “remain” in his love. The word literally means to “pitch your tent.” We’re invited to enter into God’s love and take up residence in that love.
This dynamic of remaining in God’s love is difficult to explain, but we have all experienced it in some form in our daily lives. The love and support of parents allows a five year-old to step on to the bus on the first day of school. The love of spouses, family and friends enable us to face the challenges of the day. Even when we’re separated by thousands of miles, on business trips or fighting a war, the love of others is a part of our lives. Love keeps us going. God’s love works in our lives in the same way.
When we dwell in God’s love we have peace and contentment. We sense God’s hand upon us and see God’s movement in our lives. In the midst of grief and tragedy we sense God’s care and comfort. When we face overwhelming challenges or when life comes crashing down around us it is God’s love that gives us the strength and determination to persevere.
When we question God’s love for us, peace and contentment evaporate. Not seeing God’s loving presence in our times of grief and struggles we begin to slip into despondency, despair and hopelessness. Our situations may not change, but our lives are transformed when we rediscover God’s love for us and once again abide in that love.
Jesus tells his disciples about his love and their being chosen so that their joy may be complete. Remaining in God’s love–living each day of our lives in the reality of God’s love–brings peace, contentment AND joy into our lives. Sharing our love with others allows us to experience a greater, deeper joy in our lives.
Jesus tells his disciples that he has chosen them so that they will bear fruit–good fruit. That fruit is produced from love–love that inspires and motivates us to use our talents and abilities (and treasures) in service to others. Loving others, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with them in word and deed, and observing how it changes their lives in a positive manner brings with it a great joy.
In verse thirteen, Jesus tells his disciples that there is no greater love than giving one’s life up for friends. Of course, he is foreshadowing what will take place in his life. He’s also telling us that an essential part of life is giving up our lives for others–rather than for ourselves. We may not physically die for others, but we may give up our dreams, our goals, our lifestyles, our time, and our treasures for others. Parents make that sacrifice for their children. Friends often sacrifice for friends. Strangers give their lives to serve and help those in need. If you ever talk to people who have “died” for others, they will invariably talk about the joy that it brought to their lives.
Love is one of God’s greatest creations. As impressive as the Grand Canyon is, and as amazing all of Hubble’s pictures of the universe are, love is greater. Love is God’s gift to us. Love changes us in a positive way. Love changes the world.
And All of God’s People Say…Amen.
GRACE: Neva Schmid, the family of Arden Miller
GLORIA DEI: Deann Larson, Andrea Nelson, the family of Arden Miller, Wayne Fraass, Marge Jones, Ernie Kahrs, Pat Rufenacht, Barb Namuth, Richard Bruns, Della Weber, Kimberly Valla Martinez, Rita Bartling, Dan Dickinson, Julie Bond’s cousin and her husband recovering from Covid-19
BLESSING: And may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and + give you peace. Amen.