The Rev. Celal J. Kamran
I speak to you in the name of God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Amen.
In church we talk about love a lot. We love talking about Love… that is… God’s love for us and vice versa and our love towards each other. You can say it’s the underlying theme in everything we do in church and the world. The Gospel we heard today from Saint John is about fish, the disciples, the appearance of Christ after the resurrection but most importantly it is about love. In fact the whole of the Gospel of John is preoccupied with love. Some of the greatest Bible passages on love, we quote from are from the Gospel of John:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John three, sixteen.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” John 13:34-35.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13.
On and on it goes until we reach this last chapter in John, when Christ is sharing a meal perhaps the Eucharist also known as a love feast to early disciple. All this before his ascension into heaven. This is the last lesson Christ gives to his disciples in flesh.
Do you love me? He asks Peter. Not long after Peter rejected him three times before the crucifixion… Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Peter replies. Then feed my sheep Jesus tells him three times, representing the three times Peter rejected him, atoning Peter of his rejection. But more then that it drives home the point, the last message that Jesus will leave for his people, and the leaders of the Way, to love Christ is to love people. To love God is to love the people of God and take care of them.
This is what we call the great commandment or commandments. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
This is the core of Christian life, Love, love for God and love for each other. Time and time again, Jesus lived this out for us so that we too can live into this life of Love. In fact, our love comes from God who loved us first.
And the nature of God is love. John says that God is love. Not just that God loves or that in God’s character is to love. But God’s very core, his very being is love. What is God made up of… love.
And since we are made in the image of God, not only like God but in Genesis God breathed his essence into humanity in the final act of creating us. We are embedded with the Divine love. This is the same love that made an eternal promise to the family of Abraham, this is the same love who remembered his people in bondage in Israel, it is the same love which cares for the outcasts, the orphans, and the widows. And this love, is so deep that God came down on earth to become human, further embedding us with divinity, or access to it through Jesus Christ. And in this way, we too have access to the everlasting love of God, through Christ.
Christ who showed us the way of love and started the movement of Love by caring for those the world rejects, who the world does not love. And Christ showed us the way of love. And it is simple. The sacrificial love of Christ on the cross redeems us, marks us as Christ’s own. The love on the cross shows us that we too can take part in this same type of sacrificial love towards each other taking the example of Christ. The same Lord who wept at the death of his dear friend, Lazarus is our example on how to live a loving and caring life.
This is the task at hand, but it is not easy. It has never been easy for humanity. How easy it is for us to lose our way, to turn inwards, to take the wrongs done to us and pour out bitterness into the world. I know I certainly can fall into that category.
But the redeeming factor is, the grace is exactly this. That God embedded us with love in breathing life into the nostrils of Adam and Eve. And God embedded love into the fabric of humanity when God became like us, meshing Godself to flesh, our flesh. Flesh which God did not reject as evil but anointed as children of the Divine. And in doing so Christ’s flesh was broken, beaten and killed. Flesh that turned the other cheek. And Flesh that loved until the death and after death so that we too can know the love of Christ.
And like a flame spreading, lighting all around it, this Divine love gives us the power of love. Love that can be so countercultural in forgiveness of wrongdoings.
So remember this when you fall short, when you feel like you do not have love to give, that our nature is to love because God loves us and gave Divine love as our eternal example. We can always fall back into this Divine love.
Let it be so.