“Come out,” to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”
We live in a mixed reality. Perfect people or perfect institutions don’t exist. Expecting perfectionism, in ourselves or others, may leave us resentful, judgmental, or dissatisfied. Jesus’ life was an example of non-judgmental inclusion. Paradoxically, the only people He seemed to exclude were those who judged and excluded others. Our task may include a patient attempt to find the true, the good, and the beautiful part that exists in all, even the most problematic people or institutions…even ourselves.
(c) 2018 Verlene Springer
John 13:34-35 (Contemporary English Version)
“… I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”
Whenever I read the scripture above and apply it to my life, I shake my head in amazement. On the night before his execution, Jesus commands us to love one another as he has loved us. Are you kidding me??? How in the world can we love other people as fully and as unconditionally and as generously as Jesus loves? It seems like an impossible task. Not only that – he says that it is his command to us, not his suggestion or wish or hope for us. He commands us. I am daunted by this assignment and feel completely ill-equipped. The standard that he sets seems too high for me to ever reach. I am so intimidated that my impulse is to give up without even trying. (Probably not the response Jesus has in mind for me…)
As I continue to sit with this scripture, however, I hear Jesus’ gentle reminder that his capacity to love came from a lifetime surrendered to his Abba, living as the pure expression of divine love that was the hallmark of his ministry. The standard that he sets for me in the above scripture is not to love others perfectly, but rather to love others as fully as I am able to do in the midst of my own imperfect life. And also to be willing to allow Jesus’ perfect love to flow through me when I know that my own love is not enough.
Jesus commands us to keep choosing love, no matter what. And to allow that loving to continually transform us into his likeness, choice by choice. That I can do.
(c) 2015 Therese Adamiec
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
I have a large network of spiritual parents. For 21 years, they have helped me to “rid myself of every burden” through listening, prayer and by sharing my burdens with me. They have convicted me to “root out the sin in my life that clings to me”, and they have always encouraged me to persevere, even during the darkest of nights.
It is now my privilege to serve them as they deal with the struggles of aging. Three have died this past year. My “cloud of witnesses” are not passive as I once perceived them to be. They continue to be actively involved in my journey. Their wisdom still resonates in my spirit and comes to mind when I need it most. My memory still bears witness to their powerful, faith-filled lives. I discern their intercession, love, encouragement and shepherding just as much as I did when they were here on the earth. I am grateful that the Lord has seen fit that we never need be with those who go before us.
(c) 2015 Kathy Oehler
John 12: 1-11
We are now entering the week commemorating the most significant event in world history: Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus had tried in so many ways to tell people who he was, plainly and in metaphor, yet not even his closest disciples had understood. In these verses we find someone who did understand. Mary, in an act of bold, extravagant worship, anointed the feet of Jesus with a perfume of the essence of spikenard, worth 300 denari, nearly a year’s wages. It was not only worship, but also an act of great love for Jesus, as in humility she bowed to anoint his feet and wipe them with her hair.
Mary’s act was such a contrast to that of Judas in this scene. Greedy Judas, always thinking of money and power, who would soon betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Mary will always be remembered for her act of love and Judas for his act of pure greed. The eyes of Judas were always on the world, but Mary kept her eyes on Jesus, often sitting at his feet.
It is also interesting to note that the text tells us that the fragrance of the perfume filled the house. Money and power and striving are not how we truly make a difference in the world. Lasting influence comes through love, the kind that is found in Jesus and through Jesus, a love that we find here in Mary’s beautiful gesture.
(c) 2015 Diana Beaudry