Saturday, April 27, 2013

Amazing love...Homily for 8.00 Easter 5

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another

Jesus seems very intent on getting his message across...a message summed up in a single word
That's the beginning and the end of the Christian life...LOVE
All you really need to know about the Christian life – and the God who calls us.

But I'm rather afraid that if you stood by the Co-op check-out and asked everyone who came through the first word that sprang to mind when you said “Christian” love might not be the answer.

A straw poll conducted yesterday came up with “Boring” “Science” “JBigotry” “Dior” “Fundamentalist” “Perfection” and “soldier” before finally someone suggested “love”....
and if I'm honest I wasn't very surprised.

You see, though we are a people shaped by God's love, called to live each moment responding to it – we are actually really bad at showing it.
God pours out his love and invites us to share it with others– but we struggle to believe that there's enough to go we hoard it.
Though love and fear should be mutually exclusive, we are anxious. We close our fists to hold God's gifts tightly instead of playing pass the parcel so that everyone can be included.
Indeed, it can seem as if our faith is more of an insurance policy against a miserable eternity than a life-enhancing source of overflowing joy....

But take comfort...If we're anxious that there's not enough to go round, we're not alone.
The reading from Acts presents Peter learning a very important lesson.
Throughout history til this point, the Jewish people had rejoiced in their special relationship with God. They WERE God's chosen...defined by the Torah and the Covenant...
And within the Torah, the dietary laws draw a clear line between those who follow them – who are the insiders, God's people – and those who don't.
So what you eat defines who you are unmistakeably...and Peter was confident that those who followed the purity code were God's favourites.

But that day in Joppa God turned the Jewish world upside down...removing the barriers of history and showing Peter that there were to be no limits on God's grace from now on
“What God has made clean you must not call profane...”
Against his upbringing, against his life-long experience, Peter found himself awake to a new reality, invited to see the whole world in a different way.
If God then gave them the same gift that he gave to us...who was I that I could hinder God. ...God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life”
In other words he'd learned, as we must learn, that God's love is always broader, deeper, stronger......and completely inclusive.
Nothing and nobody is beyond its scope – and there will always, ALWAYS be enough to go round.

So – spend a minute thinking about the people you struggle with.
Those whose behaviour alarms you...Those whose outlook is radically different from your own...Those whose messy lives make you think “For goodness sake......”
Those who seem to have no time for you, and make you feel small and unimportant.
Think about them.
Then...remind yourself that God loves each of them so much that he chose to DIE to prove it.
Remind yourself that God loves each of them just as much as he loves you.......and that God loves you just as much as he loves them.

Finally listen to the words of Jesus once again
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another

Ask for God's help in learning and living his lesson of love – a love that includes everyone, regardless of race, creed, gender.....or anything else you can think of....a love that never gives up, regardless of our response...a love that lasts forever.

1 comment:

jo(e) said...

Someone said BORING? Sigh. That's the worst insult of them all.