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Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C

John 17:20-26 - link to NRSV text

I think I might have wanted to preach on this passage this Sunday even if there were no such thing as a lectionary.

Jesus' prayer for the church, "that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (verse 23), seems to underscore for me something I've been thinking quite a lot about lately.

I'm doing an internship for the ordination process, working with BRIDGE, the Baltimore Regional Initiative for the Development of Genuine Equality. It's an initiative that helps people of faith come together around issues in which they have a personal stake in shared goals. For example, folks in Anne Arundel County are coming together to support a proposal for affordable housing for working families integrated into new housing developments. People support it for a wide variety of reasons -- because their son who just graduated from college can't live closer to them when housing is so expensive, or because it's harder to find teachers and firefighters for the community when they have to commute a long distance to work there, or because of the positive effects proposals like this have on local schools -- but people often come together most effectively when they can identify their personal interest in moving forward.

In this Sunday's gospel, Jesus identifies something that motivates me to stretch my capacity to love. I've found that the people who are hardest for me to love are those who in some way remind me of something about myself that I'd rather not face. I find something about myself unacceptable, so I project it onto someone else and criticize or lash out at them for being, well, a little too much like me.

When we look at someone who reminds us too much of our shadow side and we say, "I can't love someone like that," it's hard for us to understand that God can love US. On some level, no matter how effective our defenses, we know our wounds and flaws, and as long as we respond to them by lashing out at them in others, we'll only be convincing ourselves further that we don't deserve love.

But as we live into Christ's prayer that we be completely one, as we learn to acknowledge, experience, and even celebrate our identity and our connection as members of one Body, and as we learn to love others, especially the difficult others, we can experience with increasing depth and strength Christ's love for us. When we seek Christ in the face of someone we are tempted to fear or scorn, we find Christ, and we find love and grace. We know how much God loves that person, and if we love God, our love follows God's. And then it sinks in: if God can love someone like that so much, God can love someone like me.

Thanks be to God!

May 17, 2004 in Easter, John, Year C | Permalink

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Dylan's lectionary blog: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C

« Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C | Main | Day of Pentecost, Year C »

Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C

John 17:20-26 - link to NRSV text

I think I might have wanted to preach on this passage this Sunday even if there were no such thing as a lectionary.

Jesus' prayer for the church, "that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (verse 23), seems to underscore for me something I've been thinking quite a lot about lately.

I'm doing an internship for the ordination process, working with BRIDGE, the Baltimore Regional Initiative for the Development of Genuine Equality. It's an initiative that helps people of faith come together around issues in which they have a personal stake in shared goals. For example, folks in Anne Arundel County are coming together to support a proposal for affordable housing for working families integrated into new housing developments. People support it for a wide variety of reasons -- because their son who just graduated from college can't live closer to them when housing is so expensive, or because it's harder to find teachers and firefighters for the community when they have to commute a long distance to work there, or because of the positive effects proposals like this have on local schools -- but people often come together most effectively when they can identify their personal interest in moving forward.

In this Sunday's gospel, Jesus identifies something that motivates me to stretch my capacity to love. I've found that the people who are hardest for me to love are those who in some way remind me of something about myself that I'd rather not face. I find something about myself unacceptable, so I project it onto someone else and criticize or lash out at them for being, well, a little too much like me.

When we look at someone who reminds us too much of our shadow side and we say, "I can't love someone like that," it's hard for us to understand that God can love US. On some level, no matter how effective our defenses, we know our wounds and flaws, and as long as we respond to them by lashing out at them in others, we'll only be convincing ourselves further that we don't deserve love.

But as we live into Christ's prayer that we be completely one, as we learn to acknowledge, experience, and even celebrate our identity and our connection as members of one Body, and as we learn to love others, especially the difficult others, we can experience with increasing depth and strength Christ's love for us. When we seek Christ in the face of someone we are tempted to fear or scorn, we find Christ, and we find love and grace. We know how much God loves that person, and if we love God, our love follows God's. And then it sinks in: if God can love someone like that so much, God can love someone like me.

Thanks be to God!

May 17, 2004 in Easter, John, Year C | Permalink

Comments

The comments to this entry are closed.