Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Marriage of Julia and Mitch

The Marriage of Julia and Mitch
Song of Solomon 2:10 -13; 8:6- 7
John 15:9-12

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

You know, I think any time we hear the word “commandment,” we all tense up just a little.  Because we think of  a “commandment” as something against our will, or something we’re going to fail at.  Either it’s a list of rules we can’t keep, or it’s some requirement that is going to take away our fun.  The obvious example is the Ten Commandments, which we might have had a chance of keeping, if pesky Jesus hadn’t come along and ramped them all up with his talks to his disciples. 

We’re not good with commandments, especially when we know we can’t keep them.  That’s why the term makes us nervous.  In today’s Gospel reading from John, which we just heard, Jesus uses the word “commandment” three times.  And with such a short reading, that’s a lot!  And, as is typical of John’s Gospel, there’s a lot of logic and if/then kind of stuff going on.  John is often hard to follow for that very reason.  Like you have to pick it apart to see what he is saying.  And, as the priest, today it is my job to do the picking.

Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”  That’s pretty straight forward, right?  Jesus loves us like the Father loves him, and he says: abide in his love.  Got it.  So . . . How exactly do we abide in his love?  Well, Jesus answers our question: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.”  Uh oh.  If and then are bad news, and I think it starts to make us sweat a little.  Because now there’s a condition attached, right?  And the condition is attached to our old nemesis, “commandment.”  IF we keep Jesus’ commandments, THEN we will abide in his love. 

We all know that Jesus’ commandments are a mile long right?  And then, Jesus ratchets it up by saying, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”  So now, on top of if, then, and commandments, we’ve got long-term goals, right?  We will abide in his love, IF we keep his commandments.  And if we keep his commandments,  our joy will be complete.

So there’s a lot riding on getting this right, right?  We would like to abide in Jesus.  We would hope to keep his commandments.  And we certainly want for our joy to be complete.  Okay.  Alright.  Let’s have it Jesus.  What are your commandments?  Seriously, just go ahead and give us the bad news.

And Jesus says, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  Seriously?  That’s it?  Nothing about shellfish or coveting or gluttony?  Nothing about adultery in our hearts and killing with evil thoughts?  Just . . . love one another?  Oh, wait.  Love one another as you have loved us.  You knew there had to be a catch, right?  We’ve got to see what it means to love like Jesus loves.  So, let’s consider the question:  How does Jesus love us?

Ah.  And this gets us right back to why we are gathered here today, and maybe why Julia and Mitch chose this verse for today’s reading.  Jesus loves us unconditionally.  Whether we are rich or poor.  In sickness and in health.  For better or for worse, you cannot make Jesus stop loving you.  You’re stuck with him, whether you like it or not.  Jesus will always love you.

So if we want to work backwards through the chain of John’s logic, it could go like this.  Our joy will be complete if we follow the example of Jesus and love one another unconditionally.  Do you want to be truly happy?  Love people.  Do you want joy in your own life?  Love people.  And here’s where it all comes back to today:  Do you want Mitch and Julia to live a life filled with joy?

Then love them.  Unconditionally.  Support them in their love for one another.  Forgive them, encourage them, and walk with them.  And, if you do this, your joy will be complete, because you will love them as Jesus loves them.
Amen.