"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
~ John 13:34
I'm unsure why, but the last two days I have struggled to speak. It's not that I don't have anything to say. I'm simply finding that I need to think about what it is that I'm going to say.
Of all the things that Jesus reminded the disciples to do was to "love one another." Today I'm acutely aware that loving one another means that we are invited to speak what we are feeling, and to reflect, while seeking ways to practice what Jesus is asking us to do.
Today we seem to talk about respecting one another, or tolerance, or even remaining silent when things occur so that we do not "ruffle," proverbial feathers. We seem to be living in an age where we are invited to provide the "shocking remark," or the "challenge."
Years ago there was a reporter that would often use a number of different terms to describe my sexual orientation, along with the word, "clergy," when writing stories about me and the church I was serving. Sometimes the adjectives helped in the cause, but many times, it was used to sell a story, not to help me help those that I felt God calling me to assist. I remember sitting down with the reporter and explaining how his words about me didn't always help me, or help those who needed the support. As I shared what this meant for the people I was trying to help, many often never having known love, or that someone from a "religious," perspective could be trusted, he expressed that my sharing helped him to "understand."
Among the greatest challenges we face during Lent, or for that matter, any time of year, is that we are to focus on ways to reconcile ourselves to God and to one another. It is the reminder of a journey made by God, in the incarnate presence of Jesus, who became the living presence of that love for each of us.
The challenges he faced while reminding us that the Samaritan was more than someone "different" than us. He was capable of caring and loving someone in their woundedness.
It's the same challenge that modern day followers of Jesus must face as well as we struggle to love one another. Emerging on Easter Sunday from the tomb required love. Yes, a miracle occurred, indeed! But the essential message is that God loved humanity so much that God sent Jesus to us to live among us, to die, and to overcome the tomb. If Jesus can rise from the dead, then surely, if we are the living presence of Jesus in the world today, then we can overcome our own doubts, racist beliefs, lines drawn in countless deserts full of sand, and the very things that keep us from loving one another.
Loving one another is always a choice. A choice that Jesus clearly reminded us of, as he struggled to proclaim to everyone that above all things, "Love one another."
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.