Lectionary Scripture: 1 John 3:16-24
"All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them."
This is the verse immediately preceding today's reading. It refers to Cain murdering his brother Abel and makes the jump that hate equals murder.
This is a tough scripture and John juxtapositions it with the love that Jesus has for us. Rather than taking life, Jesus lays down his life for us. I'm reminded of Thomas asking to see the marks in his hands and side. These places of wounding mark Jesus as authentic in his eyes. Thomas may have even seen the wounds inflicted from a distance.
They become marks of resurrection in the risen Lord.
Sometimes we have our own marks. If we are in relationship, we usually gain scars along the way. Most relationships require us to forgive somewhere or they would have already ended. There are likely also places we can recall where others had to forgive us as well!
|Some places are trickier |
to move into than others.
Our neighbors could have hidden in their apartment - but they helped us move our junk up the stairs. Luckily we didn't have a couch with a hide-a-bed in it. But it was still a lot of work.
Later, we tried to help others move when the opportunity arose. I remember one neighbor in particular that we helped move (he had a lot of stuff) and when it came time to help us, he was nowhere to be found. Sometimes this happens and we may even feel a little used.
But if love becomes transactional, we may start looking for more gain than what we put into it. This is a recipe for becoming a user in a relationship rather than a giver.
The example of Jesus is that we give and do not count the cost. While we may end up giving more than receiving, I don't think this is really true. If I try to take advantage of someone, I find myself diminished rather than enriched. It's strange how life works that way! It may be that we need to consider the people we have forgiven as our own marks of resurrection.
I hope you'll join us as we continue to explore this theme on Sunday. We'll gather online as always although this will be our last preproduced Sunday before we go back to live-streaming. We meet in the sanctuary at 8:30 and 11 am and have an outdoor service at 9:45 am (featuring our band). This Sunday, we will be confirming (finally) our 2020 class of youth at the outdoor service if you would like to support them (but you'll need to bring a blanket or lawn chair). I'm looking forward to a wonderful Sunday and this will be my first one fully vaccinated!
Photo by Jacob Wolman via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.
All scripture quoted is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.