"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another."
Almighty God, please make it so that Jesus didn't actually say this. Amen.
I don't know if she remembers it, but there is a woman to whom I probably owe an apology. It was homiletics class and she had just given a sermon that I'm sure was good, but it was about the 10,000,000th "it is all about love" sermon that I had heard at VTS and the first one which I was asked my opinion about. I'd like to think I spoke to her out of love, but my guess is that wasn't the case. I was probably pretty short as I told her what I thought of the "it is all about love" theology that pervaded VTS.
It is all about love, in that context, meant it is all about a very shallow sort of inclusivity. It is about me, personally, and the Church, corporately, blessing everything that everyone does out of love. It was all grace.
Without judgment there is no grace. If I don't deserve punishment, my reprieve doesn't exist. It is lazy and sloppy theology, and it probably wasn't what the woman was saying, but it is what I heard.
So, when we inexplicably return to John's farewell discourse for Easter five and hear Jesus saying, "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another" my head begins to swim with the need to preach what love really means. How does loving one another play out in forgiveness and reconciliation? How does it play out in the realities of life? How does it play out when we are called to love as Jesus does? How do we nuance love in 12-15 minutes?
I'm not preaching this week, thanks be to God, but I know I'll be swimming in love language anyway.