Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Today’s text

John 13:34-35

[Jesus said], 'I give you a new commandment: love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you. It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.'


All my life I have read these words as an individual invitation and challenge. “Come,” you say. “Enter the love that I am. Be transformed by infinite warmth that welcomes you and always will. Then live your life in the warmth of my embrace.”

I still hear that, but now so much more.

Your words are spoken to community, a group. The love you are is the air your church is invited to breathe and to become. Breathe this air for a while, and grace becomes flesh, even in one’s own.

Sitting on the floor talking to children, goofy kids, hearing their memories and stories it occurs to me that we breathe that air, Jesus, the fresh breath of Spirit. They listen to each other as well as they can, and I have the urge to tell them how much I love them all. I want to gather them in my arms and love out of them anything that keeps them from knowing and feeling the wonder that each of them is.

I want to become the love you are for them, at least as best I can, which isn’t much I admit. But sitting there on the floor, laughing and telling stories, there is a moment when affection is mutual, and your command to love is utterly unneeded for loving is as natural and easy as looking at each other and realizing that we are not many but one.

Somehow, we are one beating heart in harmonious rhythm, moved by a force invisible as air but just as undeniable. It’s holy, and we are part of it, not as individuals but as a single body whose principle is an affection and care that feels limitless.

I’m not entirely sure how this happens. I don’t know what any of us did to open the door that let eternity flood the moment. Maybe we just opened our hearts and spoke of what we love, what makes us laugh and brings joy. Maybe we were just ourselves … beyond any fears that who we are or what we say isn’t welcome. That certainly happened.

And in its happening your command, your desire for us became as real as the hugs with which we sent each other on our way. And just then, loving as you love was no towering achievement or act of will, but a gift given in community by children who had no idea the wonder they freely gave to one tired soul.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Today’s text

John 13:31-32

When he had gone, Jesus said: Now has the Son of man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified. If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon.


It’s intriguing that this exclamation should come right after Judas leaves the room. Emotionally, the scene feels right, but it also makes you, Jesus, look too much like me.

It’s as if Judas leaves, and immediately you are freed to be … yourself, as if something hindered you from being the fullness of who you are.

That is not exactly good news to me, although I empathize with your feeling, if I understand what might be happening in you.

There is nothing more that I want today than to be myself, and it seems there is nothing harder to be. Why is that?

There are moments of flowing freedom when the feeling, the passion I have for the people and things I love streams effortlessly from my soul.

Defensiveness flees, self-consciousness disappears and the soul is a fountain of generosity. All that matters is this flow in which action and identity are one, and there is no separation, no distinction between the heart’s deepest desire and one’s words and acts.

But there are far too many moments when the mouth can’t or won’t speak the truth the heart knows. Fears and angers block the flow, and the core of the soul is lost from view. Try as I might, I can’t prime the pump and make it come out and reveal itself.

I want to return there; to find the center of the soul, to live from the fountain that I know is there, but something blocks the way.

Until it is removed, until those fears or angers or struggles subside, what I most deeply am remains hidden, and life has no flow.

I don’t know how I dare project all this on you, Jesus. But I can’t help but notice: Judas leaves, his simmering hatred of what is happening with you and your inner circle departs the room, and your first word is of glory.

And this?

Glory is the showing forth of the love in which you live, the love that lives in you.

Can it be that the humble love that is God’s glory cannot flow so smoothly or cleanly in the presence of hatred? Hatred and overheated emotions surely block the flow of your life in me, but in you, Jesus?

Did you, like me, feel stymied by fears or concern about the reactions of others? Did you struggle to be the soul you knew yourself to be, the soul of holy love, craving to be known and given?

I want to believe you are above all this, elevated beyond the frailties that hem in my heart. Certainly, you struggled with these more valiantly and successfully than I. But I wanted to imagine that if I fully could give myself to you, this struggle would cease for me--just as I imagined that it had for you.

But it can’t, for the love that is the heart of your soul--and so deeply hidden in mine--is endless and infinite. Revealing such a glory can’t help but be a struggle for finite, mortal flesh.

Revealing this glory is central struggle of our lives, the one that makes us human and opens our souls to the joy of knowing and being the glory you are.

Pr. David L. Miller