May 9, 2021
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Dear Followers of Jesus,
I wonder how love will get us beyond COVID-19? We believe as Christians we will find a way. Love must patch up our weariness of being isolated. Love must become balm for those who have already lost jobs and healthcare and insurance. Love must open eyes to those who face treachery and misfortune. Love must present itself to us so that we can find a new way out of loss, illness and even death. We are well on our way.
Love is not an otherworldly potion. It is not a quick fix or illusive sanitizer. Love from this Easter season cracks open new ideas and heals the old wounds of racism, xenophobia and unkind judgments. Love is not going to get us to look backward as we were. Love is going to open new doors and allow us to put new plans into practice. Love is not emotion; love is a decision.
On this Sixth Sunday of Easter, Jesus prepares the disciples in John 15:9-17 for the gift of the Holy Spirit. On May 23, the Church celebrates Pentecost. The week leading up to that feast, the Church celebrates The Ascension of the Lord on May 16. Both of these liturgical feasts are not just sugar candy. They are the real meat and earthly delight to show us how to live in our world. Jesus prepares us for such grace by offering a word today about love.
Keeping the commandments is not about living all the rules without thought or insight. We do not slavishly live the Christian message without forethought or reflection. I think in particular this Easter season, we can’t just go back to all the ways we were living Christianity from the past. If we set up all the old structures, all the old programs, and all the old learning situations, there will be no LOVE in them. We have to learn how to put into practice in our day and time the real message of Easter. Love spurs us forth. Love provides hope for us here on earth.
I notice that many people who have survived COVID-19 need physical therapy in order to get back into the swing of things. Well, I think our institutions should plan for that as well. Our outreach programs will never be the same. We need to think differently. Our educational programs next autumn will not be status quo. Even our common prayer, our worship and our interior lives may all be different as we learn how to survive this virus.
Observing the laws of love that are imbedded in this gospel passage reveal to us that life is difficult and that our response to people must be made in love. I am not sure how love will change us, but if we keep our hearts in Him, Jesus will show us the way. All things are possible. All things have their day and their beauty. We cannot get stuck in old ways of doing things because we have always done them that way. I think this virus teaches us that we cannot control life to such a degree. Some people will not see that change has value, no matter how much we are confronted with this virus. Some people will dig in their heals and demand that life goes backwards. I just don’t think this is wise. It will get us nowhere; it will get us all the old answers.
So as we prepare the liturgies, the buildings, and the sanctuaries, and clean the restrooms and wear our masks, there will be things that are different from how we have experienced the church in the past. No matter how much life is different, we rely on the grace of the Holy Spirit in these days in which we will celebrate the end of the Easter season, the Ascension of Christ and the gift of Pentecost. This is where love is. This is where our faith meets life; this is where the rubber meets the road. Love is real in these Easter days.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command: love one another.
God give you peace,