John 13:34-35: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
I John 4:7: Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
John 15:12: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
My heart has been greatly troubled of late as I read the news and watch it on television. I will admit to being a news junkie, love to keep up with what is happening. But recently I find that my TV is rarely turned to the news channels, and a quick perusal of the news from my daily paper and my online sources is about all I can do. Stories about young men shot while peacefully jogging through a quiet neighborhood, and heavily armed folks storming into a state house (Michigan) or ordering a coffee at a Starbuck’s (Raleigh) makes me uneasy, restless in spirit, and frightened.
And should I choose to watch a sitcom or drama or documentary on, there are periodic interruptions for political commercials, and they are generally neither kind nor uplifting nor hopeful. Rather they are cruel and hateful and I have no idea what is actually true and what is half-truth or simply opinion. Even within my beloved United Methodist Church, there is strife and disagreement. Some days it seems as if disquiet and discord has invaded there too, and it looks as though the United Methodists may not be united much longer.
And my heart turns to what the Scriptures tell us about who we are as followers of Jesus Christ, and the one word that stands out above all the others is “love.” Love one another.
And as I come to yet another newscast, commercial, article, it seems that we, as a whole, do not love one another. We seek out the company of like minded folks, and we watch the cable network that reinforces what we have already made up our minds about. We seem to have lost the ability to listen to differing opinions with respect. An opinion other than the one I have triggers an argument rather than a discussion.
Here are some words of our father in the faith, John Wesley:
Do not allow yourself one thought of separating from your brothers and sisters, whether their opinions agree with yours or not…Do not condemn or think harshly of those who cannot see just as you see, or who judge it their duty to contradict you, whether in a great thing or small. I fear some of us have thought harshly of others merely because they contradicted what we affirmed. All this tends to division, and by everything of this kind we are teaching them an evil lesson against ourselves.
I am thinking that we might well listen to Father John in this season so rife with discord and dissention, and strive to let the love of Christ shine through our lives even when the world would pull us in a different direction.
Dear Jesus in Whose Life I See
Dear Jesus, in whose life I see
all that I would, but fail to be,
let thy clear light forever shine,
to shame and guide this life of mine.
Though what I dream and what I do
in my weak days are always two,
help me, oppressed by things undone,
O thou whose deeds and dreams are one
Gracious and loving Creator, you are our strength and help every day. When we grow weary with staying home, and when we grow lonely when we cannot be together with our family and friends, when we grow impatient with those whose opinions are not like ours, help us to remember that you are ever with us, encouraging us to be all that you created us to be. Catch us with your arms of grace when we fall, refresh us with your spirit when we are tired and irritable. Give us strength to go through the days with care and calm, and grant us peaceful rest in the night. Amen.
Pastor Rachel Moser