The Action of Love

Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church, Wesley Chapel, FL
Preacher: The Rev. Adrienne Hymes
Sunday, May 19, 2019
5Easter/Year C

Posted by Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church on Sunday, May 19, 2019

Last year on this day, May 19, an estimated 1.9 billion viewers across the world tuned in to view the royal wedding. Those same viewers heard the powerhouse sermon, delivered by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry. For several weeks “The Way of Love” sermon created an open door for Curry to enter the homes of people—many of whom would never darken the doorstep of a church building—through daytime talk shows, cable news outlets, TMZ and even a brilliant spoof on Saturday Night Live (talk about spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth)!

Curry’s message resonated with viewers because it did not exclude people with religiosity; the message transcended religion and went straight to the essence of what powers the existence of humanity and true human relationship—love.

Our gospel passage in John is situated at the last supper with Jesus and his disciples. Jesus said to them, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him,” (v. 31).  Jesus would be glorified in the hour of his death, resurrection and ascension—all of which served to glorify God’s name. What does the glorification of God have to do with love?

Love is at once the essence and unceasing action of God.

  • God became fully human in the person of Jesus so that all of creation might be saved through him. The incarnation was an act of divine love that glorified God.
  • Jesus’ three years of public ministry characterized by acts of love for his disciples and those to whom he taught, fed and healed. All acts of love which glorified God.
  • In the act of self-giving love, Jesus chose to give his life away, by dying on a cross, in obedience to God’s will for the sake of others. In the cross event we witness the undeniable glorification of God inextricably-entangled with Jesus’ life’s purpose.
  • And, in this Easter season, we must not ignore God’s powerful act of resurrecting Jesus from the dead—an action which glorified God.

This self-giving love of God is the result of God’s eternal relationship with God’s self, for the purpose of God’s outpouring of self in Trinitarian ways. While the human instinct is self-preservation, God’s love transcends our human nature. The eternal self-giving of God, known as kenosis, invites humankind to be taken up into the divine nature, and creative action, of the source of all Being.

The essence of God, made manifest through Jesus, is the action of self-giving love. Jewish author, Yehuda Berg, illustrates God’s kenosis beautifully when he said: “The Energy had one nature, a single will, which was to: Share endlessly. Impart continuously. Give ceaselessly.  Bestow eternally.  Which begs the question: Share what? The answer: Itself! Namely, the nature of this Energy was to share its very essence.”[1]

“…Love one another,” Jesus said to his disciples.  “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (vv. 34-35).  This new commandment is not the same as love your neighbor as yourself; it is restricted to Jesus’ inner circle—love one another.  This new commandment, given by Jesus to his disciples, required that their actionable love for one another be necessarily expressed in ways that are witnessed by others.

By the disciples loving one another, following the blueprint of how Jesus loved them, everyone would know to whom they belonged. The disciples’ distinctive love for their own would become the indelible mark of Jesus’ abiding presence even in his physical absence to come.

In this intimate setting of the last supper, Jesus’ instruction for the disciples to love one another as he loved them, was a loving act intended to strengthen them to fulfill their life’s purpose of faithfully following the way.

As we are brought by God on a life-long journey to the full stature of Christ, we can choose to perform acts of love for others. More than that, our passage is calling us to live into our purpose of becoming divine love in this world—an actionable love that when witnessed, clearly distinguishes followers of the way of love from all that is not of love. As we follow Jesus, our belief in him as the way, the truth and the life is deepened in community not in isolation.

  • We reflect Jesus as the way through the action of radical inclusion of others, not exclusion.
  • We reflect Jesus as the liberating truth when we speak truth to unjust systems of power which bind people in suffering.
  • And, we reflect the love of Jesus as the life when we proclaim the life-giving news of God in Christ and that in Christ there is life eternal.

The love of God made manifest through Jesus is distinctive. As disciples of Jesus, his message to his disciples applies to us.

We are to practice and apply the love that Jesus modeled within this community of faith so that when we show up in the world “out there” there will be no doubt that we belong to the life-giving source who is, in the ongoing reconciling action of God, making all things new even as we worship in this church today. It is this ongoing reconciling action of God that gathers up the temporal “now-ness” of our lives into the timelessness of our creator.

May we actively and unceasingly infuse love and speak life as we model the love of Christ living among us and in us.

Amen.

[1] Yehuda Berg, The Power of Kabbalah. (New York: Kabbalah, 2004). 46.