“A reminder about Love”

“Beloved,” the writer of 1 John says to his community, “let us love one another, because love is from God …”


He is saying this, I remind you, to a community that is torn by conflict. They have argued over theology, but I suspect it got personal, got mean. It always does. Some have left as a result.


And in response, John draws on the vocabulary of his gospel, the words of Jesus, the command given on the night of his arrest, a night that threatened to tear apart the community he had formed with the disciples with questions and arguments, suspicions and accusations, blame and guilt.

The disciples examine the fresh wounds on Jesus's body after the resurrection

​1 John 4:7-21

May 2, 2021

Dr. Todd R. Wright


“Beloved,” the writer of 1 John says to his community, “let us love one another, because love is from God …”


He is saying this, I remind you, to a community that is torn by conflict. They have argued over theology, but I suspect it got personal, got mean. It always does. Some have left as a result.


And in response, John draws on the vocabulary of his gospel, the words of Jesus, the command given on the night of his arrest, a night that threatened to tear apart the community he had formed with the disciples with questions and arguments, suspicions and accusations, blame and guilt.

 

You remember the moment. Jesus had just told the group that he will be betrayed by one of them. No one is sure who it will be, but Judas leaves the group and the darkness outside the upper room seeps in like a draft. Jesus stood before his frightened followers and said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.” And after a breath, this: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples …”


The poisonous mix of fear and anger, sorrow and despair threatens to destroy them – to cause them to forget everything they have ever learned about God and about abiding in God.


So Jesus reminds them to love.


He reminds them that they know the startling range of love because of his life.


He reminds them that when everything falls apart people will be watching them.


They will be evaluating this new faith and its followers. They will be deciding whether it

can blunt chaos and tame fear; whether it offers any shelter in the storm; whether it has value.


People still wonder that. Does Christianity, on balance, deliver more healing or hurt?


Do Christian communities, divided as they are, from those who have left and those who never joined in the first place, have any real love to share, or do we just talk about it?

 

Galway Kinnel offers a word. He was a Pulitzer prize winning poet and poet laureate of Vermont. Kinnel wrote “Saint Francis and the Sow” which contains these lines:


“The bud stands for all things,

even for those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers …


though sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow … and retell it, in words and in touch, [that] it is lovely …

as Saint Francis put his hand on the creased forehead of the sow,

and told her in words and in touch

blessings of earth on the sow,


and the sow began remembering all down her thick length,

from the earthen snout all the way through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine down through the great broken heart

to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering

from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.”

 

John’s community needed to be reminded that love flowed in them and through them, too.


He is giving them a blessing, like St. Francis with his hand on the forehead of a sow.


Can you imagine a more ridiculous image – a saint ankle deep in muck and mire?


I’m sure it offended the high and mighty … but not the humbled, with broken hearts.


They long to be blessed.


And were startled to be reminded that others would be nourished by their love.


May that image be a blessing to you! Amen.

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