A New Command; Easter 2013

After Jesus identifies Judas as the betrayer and sends him out he addresses his disciples:

“Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.  If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son himself, and will glorify him at once.  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 all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”    (Jn. 13: 31-35)

The Embrace of Love

 

This is painting I noticed walking through the Vatican Museum last year while “Chasing Francis of Assisi”.  It caught my attention because I thought Pedro Cano was able to create the heart felt emotion of a loving embrace between two men, Pope Paul II and Cardinal Wyszynski.

I came from a family that never hugged or outwardly showed loving affection.  But with time well spent around my wife’s family and in our “Christian family” circle I have come to truly appreciate a hug.   We all need to be valued and accepted as we are.  And I believe that we as individuals are beginning to love one another … no matter what church we are attending … nondenominational, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, Franciscan ….

But what about our various church denominations and their leadership?  Are our churches really exhibiting the love of Christ?  Does the “world” know the collective “body of Christ” by the love we have for one another?  Are we working together in our communities to help the poor, feed the hungry, and house our homeless??  Could we not accomplish so much more for Jesus by working together?  


Jesus is alive!  “Peace be with you.”

Peace Be With You

 

Let us break bread together.

The Emmaus Meal

 

And love one another.  “The most excellent way.”

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”     (I Cor. 13)

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

St. Brigida Communion

 

“This, this is the God we adore, 

  Our faithful, unchangeable friend,

Whose love is as great as his power,

And neither knows measure nor end.”    Joseph Hart (1712-1768)

How can we understand such a deep, infinite, compelling, and transforming love?  I can not but only begin to comprehend it in the very same love He has lavished on me through my family and friends.  Thank you for your Living Word … may my will be washed in submission … yielding and rejoicing in Heaven’s best for the sake of others and for the glory of your name.  Amen

Have a blessed Easter.

Spirituality of Place

Aside

Image

In Chasing Francis, Ion Cron  explains that a ‘pilgrimage’ is a “way of praying with your feet.”  One generally goes on a pilgrimage “if you feel there is something missing inside your soul, and the way to find it is to go to sacred places … places where God made himself known to others.  In sacred places, something gets done to you that you’ve been unable to do for yourself.”

He further introduces the concept of “spirituality of place” where something mystical happens through spiritual energy of past events (is a special place) to you, the pilgrim.  He uses the example of going to Yankee Stadium with his uncle.

I had such an experience in 2004 when my wife and I visited Copenhagen.  I had not been there in 40 years.  But prior to that we (my Danish parents and I) would spend 2 weeks vacation time there every year.  It was and still is quite safe to walk the streets of Copenhagen.  My parents would allow me to leave the hotel at 11:30 am and walk to the ‘Old Fort’ and catch the King’s Guard marching down the streets.  I would walk beside them all the way to Amalienborg Slot, the Royal family’s castle in the city where the ‘changing of the Guard’ takes place everyday at noon.  When the king was home there would be a band playing, as well.  If it was the King’s birthday the Guards would change from their blue uniforms to their red dress uniforms and have a large parade through the city.

After so many years it was like stepping back in time.  Hearing the orders being ‘barked’ out, the clicking of their heels on the cobblestones, and following the visitors as the soldiers worked their way around the square in the castle brought back great memories and it was extra special this time because I was sharing the experience with my wife.

I am willing to bet that you, too have experienced a similar ‘spirituality of place.’

We are only 2 weeks away from our “Chasing Francis pilgrimage.”  I am not certain what to expect.  I do not necessarily believe that there is ‘something missing in my soul’ but perhaps there is.  I have determined to be open to what God will do in me.  Already, by reading Ian’s book and ‘When Helping Hurts’ I sense a yearning for even a ‘deeper’ prayer and quiet time, as well as a need to somehow begin ‘simplifying’ our lives and doing ‘something more’ to help the poor, especially in our community.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”  (Titus 2: 11-14)

He has set eternity in the hearts of men.

Image

 

“What does the worker gain from his toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.  That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil — this is the gift of God.  I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing can be taken from it.  God does it so that men will revere him.”   Ecclesiastes 3:9-14

Splendorous Sky

Image

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

his greatness no one can fathom.

One generation commends your works to another;

they tell of your mighty acts.

They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty;

and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

They tell of the power of your awesome works–

and I will proclaim your great deeds.

They celebrate your abundant goodness

and joyfully sing of your righteousness.     Psalm 145: 3-7