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In, But Not Of, the World

(a sermon for May 16, 2021, the 7th Sunday of Easter, based on John 17:6-19)

It was one of those raw and powerful moments of utter honesty that parents aren’t really supposed to hear.

It was many years ago now; I was driving my oldest son Jake (who was about 10 or 11 years old at the time) and a couple of his buddies to a hockey game one afternoon and as I’m chauffeuring, the boys are in the back seat talking up a storm.  The subject was movies; specifically, movies on video that they’d seen (because, of course, these were the days when you actually went to a video store to rent movies!).  Now, all these years later I don’t recall what movie it was they were talking about, but I do remember one of the boys asking Jake if he’d seen this particular film.  “No,” Jake replies, “Mom and Dad won’t let me see that one.”

I swear to you, friends, at that moment a hush fell over that mini-van, as if some horrible, never to be spoken secret had suddenly been revealed!  And  w was silence for a long moment until finally one of them asks – quietly, of course, so Mr. Lowry won’t hear – “Why won’t your mother and father let you see that movie?”  To which my son – my beloved first-born – answers with a tone of derision and utter disgust in his voice, “Oh, in our house we have standards!

Well, so much for being the cool Dad!  I recall hearing that from the front seat and trying very, very hard not to laugh, but I also remember thinking at the time that at least the message that Lisa and I had tried to impart to our son had been received and understood, albeit reluctantly! 

Now, if you “tuned in” to last Sunday’s online message for Mother’s Day, you’ll recall that we talked about the “hand-me-downs” of life and faith – both positive and negative – that we inevitably pass on to our children and grandchildren largely by our own example.  But that having been said, it also seems to me that so many of the values that we hope for the next generations to embrace are not received automatically or without further effort; in other words, they need to be taught!  The development of a good moral character that’s revealed in one’s ethical behavior and decision making; living unto the virtues of honesty and fairness; courage and loyalty; commitment and the willingness to work hard: all of these things happen in people because of those – parents and family members, primarily, but others as well – who teach it by word and example.  And this is what we want for our children: we want them to make good choices for themselves and their families; to set their sights high and never sell themselves short, nor sell themselves out; to set for themselves the highest possible standards for their lives and living.  That’s why just about every parent worth their salt at some point in their upbringing will end up saying to those children some variation on the truth that just because “everybody else in the class is doing it,” that doesn’t make it right for you; and that even though society, pop culture and Netflix proclaim certain pathways to be acceptable, popular and prosperous, that doesn’t make it so!

So yes, though our kids – of whatever age (!) – might view it with some skepticism, sarcasm and even rebellion, living with “standards” is a good thing!  But make no mistake; it is rarely – for them, or for us, for that matter – the easy thing.  Whether the difficulty arises out of some measure of so-called “peer pressure,” or if it’s out of you and I seeking to maintain personal integrity and some dignity in amidst all the conflicting points of view in this divided world, the challenge is the same.  “Living with standards” means that your life will more often than not will be spent standing against the world; so that in a very real way you will be in the world, but not of the world.

And nowhere will that be more true than in living the life of faith.

Our text for this morning, the last in this year’s season of Eastertide, brings us back again to the so-called “farewell discourses” of Jesus found in John’s gospel, words of comfort and promise and power spoken just prior to the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  And in fact, the words we’ve shared today actually constitute a prayer; a series of petitions to God the Father for the sake of the church’s mission.  You see, in these final moments Jesus realized that a distinctive community – that is, the church – had already been created by hearing the word, knowing the truth and in believing; but Jesus also understood that this new church would need protection… from the world

Now, understand that when Jesus speaks of “the world,” he’s not merely referring to the political or even the religious powers that be; he’s talking about all in this world that’s arrayed against the true God, the world that would reject the truth of Christ and would move to crucify God’s own son.  Jesus recognized that this same “world” that hated him would also hate his followers: “the world has hated them,” he prays, “because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.”  And so Jesus prays that though this church that he has gathered together will most certainly be in the world with all that that implies, they will not be of the world; that in all things they will be they will be “sanctif[ied]… in the truth,” because God’s “word is truth,” and, by the way, that “they may all be one” as God and Jesus are one.  Jesus’ prayer is for a church – and the people who encompass that church – that will live in the same manner as that of Jesus: distinctively loving, purposefully healing, adhered to kingdom teaching, and willfully at odds with a world that neither worships nor understands the one true God.

By its very creation and definition, that’s how we’re gathered – that’s who you and I are – as the church of Jesus Christ!  What that means is that as Christians, as disciples of our Lord Jesus, we live out our lives in this world, and yet we are never to become too comfortable, or at rest or peace in this world.  We are meant to live with an on-going tension of our having been called to a higher standard of living, the standard of love exemplified in Jesus that then is mirrored in us: reflected in the words we use, the choices we make for ourselves, and the actions we take in this world.  To live as a Christian in this world means witnessing, sharing and embodying the good news of Jesus Christ; but moreover, it means not living unto the subtle but powerful pressures put upon us by a world that neither knows nor honors Christ.

And that’s often a struggle… and if you’ve ever found yourself at odds with others because of your faith, then you know what I mean.

Once, when I was in high school, I entered a local “Voice of Democracy” contest, which if I remember correctly, was sponsored by the VFW and involved writing and recording a personal essay on patriotism.  Well, at the time I was very much into the glories of nature at that time and so I chose to write this very impassioned elegy to the natural beauty of America and who it had inspired me as an American citizen.  And I closed the essay with words something to the effect of, “And I thank God for it.” (I know… I was always the preacher!)

But after I passed in the essay, the next day, the English teacher in charge of the competition called me into his classroom after school, and said to me, “You know, this is a good essay, but you need to take out that last line about God.”  I asked why, and he said that it didn’t belong and that it made the essay too sweet and sappy.  But it’s what I believe, I said, and he replied that that was all well and good, but it still didn’t belong in the essay; this wasn’t a sermon, after all!  So, he said, if I was going to enter this contest, I should take the line out.

Well, I went home and thought a lot about that.  And I would like to tell you that it was all for the sake of religious freedom, but it probably had more to do with 16-year-old bravado… and when the time came to record the essay for the perusal of the judges from the VFW, I left the line “and I thank God for it” in the speech. 

And… I won.  First prize!

Now, I will also tell you in all honesty, I never sought nor expected that teacher to recant his earlier opinion… but I’ll never forget what he said when the VFW came to school to award the prize.  He said, “Congratulations.  I still don’t think it belonged in the speech.”

Truth be told, it was not my first taste of being in, but not of, the world, nor would it be my last, by a long shot!  And I am sure that in small, and perhaps even in large, life-changing ways, you could describe similar experiences in your own life.  Because you know what; one of the fundamental misunderstandings of the Christian church, especially in this country and in these times, is that we somehow exist as the mainstream.  The church has never been the mainstream: the church has always existed out there in the fringes of society, culture and the places of worldly power; the church has always been “out of the loop” where trendiness and socio-political correctness is concerned; offensive to a world that places so much value on power and prestige.  By being adopted on this journey called discipleship, Christians are fated to be permanently “ill at ease” with this world in which we live!  It is as the fabled British writer and commentator Malcom Muggeridge, himself a long-time skeptic who was led to belief, once wrote in a prayer: “The only ultimate disaster that can befall us is to feel ourselves to be at home here on earth.  As long as we are aliens we cannot forget our true homeland which is that other kingdom [that Jesus himself] proclaimed.”

We are in, but not of, this world.

We are called to a higher standard than that of the world’s ways and means; we are called to the highest standard, that of the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Living out of that love can be hard work at times, and will involve some struggle.  But the good news is that even as we struggle, Jesus prays for us.  Jesus, who more than anyone else, understands the difficulties under which we live, and intercedes for us that we might be guarded and protected from the world’s power and influence.  And it’s that kind of abiding presence and strength that gives us the courage to truly be his disciples, and collectively to be the church.

I don’t know what, for you, the rest of this day will bring.  Nor can I begin to predict the kind of challenges that will be yours in the coming week; after the past couple of weeks in our own family, one thing I can definitely say is that life, and its challenges, are unpredictable.  I cannot say how’ll you’ll be confronted by the world and its priorities.  But I do know this:  if you go into this new week with the prayers of Jesus and blessing of God, you will have what it will take to be in the world, but not of it… so that the world will not overcome the light of the gospel in your life, and that that light will shine brightly in every type of darkness.

May we go forth in that knowledge, and may our thanks be to God!

Amen and AMEN!

© 2021  Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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Hand-Me-Downs

(a sermon for May 9, 2021, the 6th Sunday of Easter and Mother’s Day, based on Colossians 3:12-17)

For many years when our three children were young, there was a corner of our attic dedicated to a sizeable collection of what might best be referred to as “previously worn clothing;” specifically, all the baby and toddler clothes we’d accumulated, things that were outgrown by one child but still had enough wear for the next one to come along. 

And trust me, it was all there (I know, because most often I was the one hauling it up and down from the attic!), boxed and bagged and meticulously categorized by size, season and circumstance: from the “onesies” and “twosies” we put on them as infants, to the “Oshkosh b’gosh” blue jeans that had worn like iron through many a busy backyard day. Moreover, there were all the cute little outfits that’d been purchased for special occasions and family gatherings, not to mention all the handmade gifts of love, like the sweater Jake used to wear with the head and tail of a dinosaur knit into the arms – all treasures that were packed way in the fervent hope that they’d get handed down to the next kid to come along! 

And, for the most part, they did, too – except of course, when we discovered that Jake’s hand-me-downs weren’t really going to be suitable for Sarah, and the little frilly dresses that made up the bulk of Sarah’s wardrobe in those days certainly weren’t going to work for Zach!   So not everything we saved got used again; but, over the years, between lots of cousins, along with friends and neighbors with young children, most everything got passed around to the point where aside from a box or two of special clothes that have sort have become heirlooms, there’s really nothing left! 

And that was meant to be, I suppose, because we also discovered that somewhere along the way, each of our kids found their own unique fashion sense; and while Mom and Dad still had a little (precious little!) influence on what they chose to wear, and for the most part they were fairly reasonable about things, we nonetheless learned to keep an open mind, trust their choices, and to pick our battles! 

But you know what?  I’ve been thinking about it, and a few years down the road now, I realize we can take pride that with love and care we’ve handed down everything we could – and if you’re thinking I’m talking now about more than just Oshkosh overalls here, you’re right!  You see, the fact is, raising children is really all about the “hand-me-downs,” and not just the boxes of old clothes – but the stuff of life and living and faith that we pass down to them by word and example. 

It’s how they learn to tie their own shoes, about saying “please” and “thank you,” and covering one’s mouth when one sneezes. It’s the basic human challenges of sharing, playing fair, and growing to become caring adults who are sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.  It’s giving them the tools of a faithful life; the skills that will lead them in the way of becoming the kind of people God intends for them be. It’s an ongoing process of handing down to them the very same kind of clothing that hopefully, we’ve worn in our own lives: what Paul refers to in our scripture this morning as the clothing of “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience,” the ability to “bear with one another and… forgive each other,” and to put on the virtue of “love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Which, when you think about it, lies at the very heart of this particular day!

Mother’s Day, or for that matter, what we sometimes refer to in the church as the “Festival of the Christian Home,” certainly has a great deal to do with the hand-me-downs of love and care that’s passed down in and through the life of a family; and it seems to me that this is a good time for us as Christians to be mindful of just what kind of clothing we wear so that what we hand down to our children is what they should have to live and grow in God’s sight: understanding that this applies not only to our sons and daughters, but also to the children of our church and of our community, or, for that matter, the children of the world.

Now, I know this is a day filled up with flowers, cards and gifts – and well it should be!  But I would suggest to you that it’s also a good time for serious reflection on our own discipleship regarding our children and our families. 

Actually, there’s some historical precedence for this:  did you know that Mother’s Day was originally conceived as a day of prayer?  That’s right – in the years just following the American Civil War, there was a woman in Virginia named Anna Reeves Jarvis who was feeling awash in the grief experienced by mothers on both sides of the war who had lost sons in battle.  Jarvis was so moved by this, she organized a special day in which prayers of peace could be prayed for all these mothers and their sons, a day when those on either side of the conflict could perhaps find some small comfort and healing amidst their grief.

The idea took off, and by the early 1900’s, a small movement became a national holiday to “proclaim love and reverence to mothers everywhere.” But, as this “mother’s day” became bigger and bigger, eventually becoming the holiday we know today, the radical nature of it being a day of prayer got lost in the process.  Even so, it brings home the point that in this celebration of love, care and family there still exists a challenge to you and me as people of faith – to offer up to those we love a true and living example of what it means to have faith in God and to walk as disciples of Jesus Christ.

That’s important, because in truth, not all the “hand-me-downs” we pass on to our children are good ones, but in fact, are often rife with the inconsistent messages of our own moral, ethical and spiritual waffling!  Truly, how can we hope for our children to live a life grounded in loving God and others, when too often we ourselves are unable or unwilling to live unto that example? 

I know that sounds harsh, and I don’t want to sound judgmental here, but we’ve all heard the studies:  that abusive and violent behavior, negative attitudes and racist, prejudicial behavior often come as a result of having received that kind of treatment in childhood; the result of having been given the message that not only is such behavior is OK, but even indicative of one’s adulthood. 

I will never forget, how early on in my ministry, our little church had joined with another congregation to do a Vacation Bible School for the kids of our churches; and one morning, in the outdoor games, some conflict or another arose between a couple of these kids.  And I heard this angelic six-year-old girl – blonde hair, bright blue eyes, cute as a button – turn to the other child and shout a hateful, anti-Semitic slur!  Now, I ‘m sure that this little girl didn’t have an inkling about what she had said, and neither did any of the other kids (we adults were far more upset about it than they were) – it was just a nasty curse she’d heard someplace, and so she repeated it!  But you know she heard it somewhere, and the tragedy is that more than likely, she’d heard it at home! 

This is our legacy, friends – as parents, as adults, as Christians – that every word we say, each thing we do, every compromise we make against the integrity of our lives, there’s somebody right there  to receive what we’ve handed down.  The point is that whether we’re parents or family members, neighbors and friends, or in fact fellow members of this church family and stewards of the gospel that Christ has hand down to us, we all have this awesome responsibility to clothe those who come after us with the garments of faith; to bestow true and lasting tenets for living so that those who receive them might grow with God, and even go with God where God would lead. 

The question is: are we setting the right example?  In the ways that we worship, witness and work, are we giving our children a sense of their infinite value as children of God?   Can it be said that our faithfulness instills in our kids a loyalty and commitment to the word of God and the teachings of Christ?  Is it made real for them in the strength of our moral and ethical stances, as well in the evidence of our sense of mercy and compassion?  Will our lives serve to inspire them to be more than merely hearers of the word, but doers?  Will God in Christ be for them a real and vital presence in times of joy and in struggle, in part because of what they saw in us?

These are the hand-me-downs that matter, friends; And these are things that you and I can give. It’s true sometimes that what we have to give them often comes to them a bit well-worn, perhaps somewhat tattered and torn for all the difficulties, the failures and the hard lessons learned along the way – but then, perhaps it’s the wear and tear that makes the gift all the more special.  Because in the end, you see, what we have to give is strong and lasting because it’s been woven together by God with the strong thread of love, love that binds everything together in perfect unity.

It seems to me that today is a perfect day to renew ourselves in this mission to love one another after the manner of Christ, and as Paul proclaims in our scripture today:  to “let the peace of Christ rule in [our] hearts …[to] let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly, [as we] teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and with gratitude in [our] hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.” 

And wherever we happen to be – be it at the breakfast table, at the supermarket, on the little league field, or just out amidst all the daily bits of “stuff that’s gotta get done” – whatever we do, whether in word or deed, “do[ing] everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  For what comes of this will be the hand-me-downs that will sustain our children, our families and ourselves forever.

Happy Mother’s Day… and thanks be to God!

AMEN and AMEN!

© 2021  Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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By Our Love and Through His

(a sermon for May 2, 2021, the 5th Sunday of Easter, based on John 13:31-35)

And Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.” 

I guess that when it comes to the matter of living out of our Christian faith, that’s the bottom line, isn’t it; to love one another!  I mean, it doesn’t get much more direct than that; one doesn’t have to be wholly attuned to the nuances of scripture or Christian theology to understand that the pathway to righteousness, not to mention the mission of the church, is clear and concise: to love God and to love your neighbor; the rest, as they say, is commentary.  And in a life that’s so often filled with “grey areas,” I’ve got to tell you I’m grateful for that kind of black and white simplicity!  

And yet, is it really all that simple?  I’m reminded of that old Peanuts comic strip, in which Linus announces that when he grows up, he’s going to become a world-famous surgeon – a regular “M. Deity,” he says – only to have this dream shot down by his sister, Lucy, who says, “You’ll never be a world famous surgeon, because to be a world famous surgeon you have to love humanity and you don’t love humanity!”   And as Lucy walks away, Linus shouts back, “I do too love humanity… it’s people I can’t stand!” 

And that, friends, iswhere the simplicity of love becomes very complicated! 

As people of faith, we know the commandment to “love one another;” furthermore, we also understand that as believers, we ought to be shining examples of that particular pathway to righteousness!  And yet… if we’re being honest, we also have to confess that all too often the pathways we follow reveal more self-righteousness than anything else; indeed, in the places where love ought be taking root, things like ridicule and scorn, prejudice, derision and false pride – the stuff that chokes the life out of love – ends up spreading through our lives like so much pucker brush.

So, what’s the problem here?  Like I said before, we do know better; so why don’t we live it?  Is it because, like Linus, we’ve become so jaded with people that we’ve stopped believing that love ever works for the good?  Is it that somewhere in our lives we’ve been hurt by risking love, and as the saying goes, “once bitten, twice shy?”  Or could it be that somehow we’ve lost or forgotten what it truly means to love our neighbor as ourselves?

Well, this morning’s scripture reading offers some real insight into this.  As we pick up the story today from John, we’re actually back to the night of betrayal and desertion; Jesus is together with his disciples, and these are in fact among the very last words that Jesus will say to them, the last of his teachings, as it were:  “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.” 

What’s interesting here is that this isn’t reallya new command, because the edict to love one’s neighbor dated back to the Old Testament; part of the Torah and as such, words that were familiar to the disciples and anyone else who’d grown up in the Jewish faith.  But what was new is what Jesus adds to it: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  In other words, love’s shape, form and function is to come from Jesus himself:  if you love one another in the same way that I have loved you, he says, all people will know that you are my disciples. 

I would submit to you this morning that this is precisely what we’ve forgotten!  In a culture where love gets reduced to shallow sentiment on the one extreme, and mere physical gratification on the other, here’s Jesus to remind us that real love has to do with living out of his love!  For the Christian, you see, there is a gold standard of love and that standard is Jesus.  If it’s true, as the song says, they’ll know we are Christians by our love, then it’s also true that everything we need to know about love, everything we have to do regarding love, and everything we should avoid because of love comes to us through Jesus, and by the example of his love.

Or to put it biblically, we love because he first loved us!

So the question becomes, how does Jesus love us?  What exactly is the example we’re called here to follow?  Well, that’s a big question with more answers than can easily be contained in a single sermon!  But for our purposes this morning I would like to offer up something of an overview: four spiritual truths about Jesus that not only tell us a great deal about how he loves, but also points us in the right direction in how we should love one another.

The first is this: Jesus loves us both universally and uniquely.

By this I mean that the same Jesus who took upon his own shoulders the burden of the world’s sin is also the Jesus who throughout the gospels never failed to focus on the particular and the unique in every person he encountered, from the Samaritan woman at the well, to the thief who was crucified beside him on the hill of Golgotha.  It’s interesting to note that Jesus once compared the people of Israel to a brood of chicks in need of God’s love, and yet he never yielded to the temptation to lump people into categories, or classes, or cliques; instead he always sought out the genuine and God-created uniqueness in every single person before him.

Likewise, that’s how we ought to be approaching others:  in the knowledge that we are each and all God’s children, each one created to bring something unique and special to God’s kingdom on earth.  If I’m going to love you as Jesus has loved me, I’m going to recognize that you are the same as me in every way that really counts; that you are created and loved by God, that you are claimed by the Christ who died to save you, and that you have a place beside me in the community of God’s people.  And it’s wonderful, all those things that make us one; but I also need to acknowledge that in a whole lot of ways you’re very different from me, and if I’m to truly love you as Jesus has loved me, then I want to know you for just exactly who you are; I want to find out what makes you tick, what fills you with joy, what challenges you and what the Lord has done for you. 

In one church I served, there was a little boy who every single Sunday after worship would come through the line and ask me if I knew his name!  At first, it was because quite honestly I was having a hard time keeping these kids’ names straight; hey, there were a lot of children in that Sunday school, and I get so bubble-headed sometimes I’ve been known to call my own kids by the wrong names!   And I need to add here that I got this little boy’s name right… eventually… but that didn’t stop him from asking week after week, and soon it became our own little private joke:  “Of course, I know who you are, Irving!  Or is it Schwartz?   Don’t tell me, it’s Fred Flintstone!”  It was important to him, you see, that I truly knew who he was; and it’s no different for any of us.  Each one of us, deep down inside, yearns to be known; not in a generic, nameless, faceless kind of way, but for exactly the unique and special person God has created us to be.  That’s how Jesus loves us, and as he has loved us, so we should love one another.

Second spiritual truth about Jesus: He loves us without limit and without condition

If you want proof about this in Jesus’ life, simply consider the people who were part of his inner circle: tax collectors and sinners, men of low estate and women of lesser repute, people who were in every sense on the outside looking in.  By worldly standards, not exactly the cream of the crop, but the point is Jesus loved them all, and what’s more, he urged them (and us) to love in the same way: love your enemies, he said, pray for those who hate you.  Do not let your love become limited or exclusive, or contingent on some narrow set of criteria. 

Simply put, if we’re to love as Jesus has loved us, friends, then quite simply, that love is going to have to extend beyond those who are easy for us to love; even to embracing those who at first glance seem far removed from our own experience and comfort level, not to mention sometimes our so-called “Christian” sensibilities! ( Actually, I’m reminded here of the adage that to be a Christian, one requires an eleven-foot pole; because you’re called to love people that you wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole!)  But it’s precisely this kind of inclusiveness that is truly “Christ-like,” and that’s the example we need to follow as Christians, and, dare I say, what makes us the church we should be.

This having been said, however, we also must add a third truth about Jesus’ love, and that’s that Jesus loves us honestly. 

Maybe it has to do with a life endeavoring to be at least somewhat sweet, kind and gentle in all things (something that admittedly has yielded mixed results!); but you know, the older I get the more I appreciate the fact that Jesus wasn’t always so kind and gentle!  Jesus never pulled any punches, and I love that about him; he spoke the truth in love, and at the heart of that truth is the reality that to follow him involves our very transformation as persons and as a people.  Jesus never sugar coated the gospel: it was good news, but good news that required radical change in us:  metanoia, the Greek calls it; which means turning completely around from where you are now. 

To put it another way, Jesus’ love is big enough to accept us and embrace us exactly as we are and where we are in life; but it’s a love bold enough not to let us stay that way lest we miss God’s purposes for our lives and living. Our love of one another ought to be marked with the same kind of boldness; acknowledging and seeking to empower the gifts of God in those around us.

And finally, one more, and related:  Jesus loves us in community.

Remember in this passage from John, Jesus is also preparing his disciples for the time when they’ll have to carry on his work, and he’s saying to them, if you go out and show all people the love that you have seen and heard and experienced in me, then everyone will identify you as my disciples!   In other words, our Christian faith is not meant to be internalized, and love isn’t love unless it is shared! 

We need to remember that we are sent into the world to be the church of Jesus Christ!  As Kevin Harney has written, “Jesus calls us into community and fellowship with each other in a way that blesses us and shows the world he is alive!  The way we love each other is the greatest sign of his power and presence to a world that looks on and wonders if there is anything to the Christian faith; for the sake of God’s plan, the church, and the world, it is time for us to see just how important it is for us to be part of a local body of believers.” 

For us, you see, love means dwelling in community.  This is not to say that we’re a community of perfectly loving people; far from it!  In fact, I’m also realizing the older I get that being a part of the church requires not only an abundance of patience, but also a spirit of forgiveness and a hearty sense of humor!   That’s because so often our human frailties get in the way of living and loving as we should; and love isn’t automatic, after all; it requires from us true commitment and hard work, day in and day out. But when we work at it, following the example of Jesus, many times we get it right, so that the kind of transformation that’s happened in us can start to heal a hurting world.

Love one another as I have loved you: it’s a simple truth of faith that requires everything we’re given; and yet makes us everything we are.  And it’s where everything we seek to do together begins, beloved.  It’s true, you know; they will know we are Christians by our love… and, might I add, through his.

Thanks be to God!

AMEN and AMEN!

© 2021  Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 
 

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