Psalm of Praise: Psalms 62:1-2
My soul finds rest in God above;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Bible Reading: John 13:33-35
Jesus said, "My children, I will be with you only a little longer.
You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now:
Where I am going, you cannot come.
"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."
During an evening spent with friends conversations usually go on in a relaxed and gentle way, and cover a variety of topics, often linked only in very tangential ways. When it is time to go you then get the conversations in the hall followed by conversations at the front door, and it is here that important topics are suddenly remembered and others already discussed are re-stated lest they are forgotten.
Final words are also important as a life draws to a close. We want our loved ones to die in peace and those who continue in life to do so without regrets or recriminations. Words like ‘Love you’, I’ll miss you’ and ‘I’ll be waiting for you’ can all help to do this.
Our reading today is found barely half-way through John’s gospel and yet it comes during the final week of Jesus’ earthly life. Almost half of this gospel is taken up with the teachings and events surrounding Jesus last week. They are clearly important words and important events.
Among these final words we have the simple but profound commandment from Jesus, ‘Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
I wondered; can you actually command someone to love someone else? Surely love is an emotion we feel not an instruction we obey. But true love must find expression in what we do for another, what we think of them and what we believe about them. As St Paul says, love is patient and kind, it always protects trusts, hope and perseveres (1 Corinthians 13). This is the love that Jesus has for each of us when he says to us, ‘As I have loved you, so you must love one another’.
How would you describe Jesus love for you? I think I would want to use words like unconditional, forgiving, compassionate, patient, faithful and generous. It is with this love that Jesus asks us to love each other. This is a huge ask but let us not be put off by the enormity of it, let us instead set our sights on the goal and, when we fall short, let us seek forgiveness, pick ourselves up and continue to love one another just as Jesus continues to love us.
This is the love that will sustain and enrich the Church today. It is also the love that will be attractive to those who are not yet part of the church of Jesus Christ. True love is both pastoral and missional.
Lord Jesus, Servant King, teach me to serve others, that in serving them I might serve you.
My soul finds rest (based on Psalm 62 above)