Reading (John 13:31-35)
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In many ways the house that Rob and I live in in Scaldwell is very different to my mum’s house in Lincoln. Our house is an old two storey cottage with small windows and made from stone. Mum’s house is a relatively modern bungalow made from brick with lovely large windows. What the two buildings do have in common, however, is the outlook you get from standing at the kitchen sink. When doing the washing and wiping up in either house you look out over the street. This means that we both see what is going on in the road and who is passing by. During lockdown it was noted how the number of dog owners increased across the country and that has been noticeable from our kitchen windows. In fact so many different dogs can been seen regularly being taken for their walks that mum and I have started to name some of them.
Now mum and I are both what would be called ‘cat people’, our knowledge of the different types and breeds of dogs that you can have is fairly limited, so the names we give them are based much more on what they look like or the characteristics that they possess. First there is ‘Pretty Dog’. Now not surprisingly pretty dog is a very attractive small dog with long fur and a lovely face. Then there is ‘Big Dog’ so named because of its size. At the time of naming it was the biggest dog that passed the house. That was until ‘Bear’ came along. Bear is frankly enormous, it is I believe a Newfoundland. It has long black fur and is the biggest dog I have ever seen. But of the many different dogs that pass in front of mum’s window our favourite dog has to be ‘Happy Dog’. Happy Dog is a spaniel and is often to be seen running round chasing its own tail. It always seems to be so happy being taken out for its walk, just watching it brings a smile to our faces.
I often wonder what people think of us when they see us leaving church on a Sunday. Many of us walk back to our homes from the church building and will be seen by our neighbours. Of course in such small villages many will know us by name, but for those who do not I wonder what they might call us. Would it be something about how tall we are, or the colour of our hair or might it be our expression or demeanour that would catch their attention. Would they be able to tell that we have been spending time with God just by the way we looked?
In John’s gospel we find Jesus telling his disciples that they must love one another and that by this people will recognise that they are his followers. This is a challenge for all of us, would those who see us on a Sunday, or during the week say that we must be Christians because of how we love one another? When someone sees us would they recognise by our actions that we are Christians? We can never tell the impact we have on those that we meet, or those that we don’t meet but who see us from afar. Every day we are examples to those around us of what it means to be a Christian. Christ left us with a challenge that we need his help in order to be able to fulfil.
Loving Saviour, help us always to show love to one another just as you showed love to us.