It's Friday afternoon (might even qualify as evening), and I'm not where I'd like to be on my sermon for Sunday. At the same time, I don't want to work tonight because I'm just ready for a night on the couch. The kids have been in daycare today so that I can work. I haven't done a lot, but I got to point where everything is done except for my sermon. That's all I asked for. I'll start over again Monday not too far behind.
Anyway, I know this writing is going to be a struggle. It's hard to give on Sunday morning when I feel like I haven't had time to receive the Spirit. The kids have been sick for a week (taking turns at least!) and my parents were in town visiting. I've been giving a lot, and it's taking it's toll. Last week I eeeked out a more creative and SOMEWHAT less time-consuming proclamation of the word with some congregational input and conversation in worship. This week needs to be a little more "normal," because it doesn't fly to do too much of that in row!
I also have a what is a struggle for me - the need to keep this sermon closer to 7-10 minutes instead of 15-18 minutes. We've got the ordination/installation of new officers taking place this Sunday, and I didn't cut anything else out of the service. So, I need to keep it to the point, but still engaging, probably my biggest challenge in preaching. I like having more time to wander through things.
I've listed John 15:9-17, but may just read 12-17. Mostly I'm working with 12-14 anyway. Last week I talked about intimate, abiding love, love that is present and available. This week I want to talk about active, sacrificial love. Someone at RevGals this Tuesday pondered about how it is that Jesus can COMMAND us to love. We also talked about popular songs with "love" in the title. My answer to the command question came with the title "More Than a Feeling." Jesus can command us to love because love isn't just some mushy-gushy feeling of the heart. It isn't just butterflies in the stomach, getting dizzy at the sound of a voice or the sight of a face. It isn't just hearing the angels sing "Hallelujah" when you hear the words you most want to hear. Love is more than a feeling.
Jesus tells us what the greatest love is. Not only does he tell us, but he shows us. Jesus lays his life down for his friends.
Now I wonder what this friendship is all about. I think understanding who Jesus' friends are is key to understanding how this particular passage relates to all of us today. On the surface his friends are those to whom he is speaking in that moment, the disciples. Are his friends more? Next he talks about his friends being those who do what he commands. That widens the circle more than bit.
But does that mean our friends are those who follow OUR commands? I don't think so. We are Jesus' friend when we follow his command. His command is to love. When we love we lay down our lives for our friends, so maybe anyone who receives our love becomes our friend. Our command is to love first and love makes friends. The command is not to only love our friends, but those who receive our love will become our friends. Love will transcend social boundaries like slave and master, servant and employer. Love happens when we lay aside this artificial categories, when we lay aside the constructs of life we have created, and actively love those around us - - the ones we know and the ones we don't.
From here I want to take it into a justice direction - - working on behalf of others, laying down our lives/interests/priorities to take up the cause for other, is one part of the love we are commanded to love.