Rev. Ray Medeiros is the Pastor of First Congregational Church, UCC in Westminster, Massachusetts and has published two short collections of sermons.
Scripture: John 15:9-17 (NRSV)
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Reflection: Platinum Standard Love
This coming Sunday, in case you needed to be reminded, is Mother’s Day.
And if you did need reminding…you’re welcome.
Mother’s Day runs neck and neck with Valentine’s Day as the biggest sellers for flowers and greeting cards. Which shouldn’t be too surprising. Not everyone has a sweetheart, but everyone has a mother. And, in virtually all cultures, the affection of a mother for her children represents the gold standard of love.
On the last night of his life, Jesus left his disciples with an even mightier yardstick of love for them to live by. He told them, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus wasn’t talking about maternal love that is instinctual, or romantic love that is irresistible. What he envisioned was a love that is as much an act of the will, as it is an expression of the heart. If maternal love is the gold standard of selfless affection, then this “no greater than” love might best be described as the platinum standard of love. Jesus commanded this willingness to embrace personal sacrifice for the sake of another not of our own flesh and blood, precisely because it is neither spontaneous nor instinctual. But Jesus also demonstrated how to love in this way by example. When he spoke of laying down one’s life for one’s friends, he was describing something he himself was about to do for them/us.
By any standard, Jesus' disciples were massive failures as friends. They would betray, deny and desert him. Yet we hear Jesus say, "No longer do I call you servants, but I have called you friends." I'm glad he said I have called you friends, not "you have proven yourselves to be great friends." Because they didn’t. Not by a longshot. And neither do we. Yet he loved them, and loves us, no matter how badly we fall short of the selfless love that he commanded. He even invites us to experience platinum love firsthand with a call for us to abide in the love he has for us.
Some words hold the power to make you feel good just by the sound of them. For me, abide is such a word. To abide in something is to make it your home. Home (hopefully) is where we learn that we are loved. And it is where we learn to love others.
Jesus is saying, if you want to learn to keep this platinum love commandment, you must first make your home in my love for you. Settle into this love I have for you, and you might just discover that my way of loving you will transform the way you love others.
We don’t get to choose the home we grow up in, and some homes model love better than others. But something we all do have a choice about is whether or not to make our home in Christ’s love, so that we may reflect that love in our relationships with others.
Jesus, may I abide so securely in your love for me, that I will not be constrained by the insecurities that would deter me from loving others with so great a love as I have received.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving for more than 573,000 dead due to the Covid-19 disease
- For the victims and their families of the 178 mass shootings already carried out in 2021
- For those grieving in Afghanistan where violence has escalated in recent weeks
- For those grieving for dozens killed in a stampede at a Jewish festival in Israel
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the many mothers throughout the SNE Conference
This Week in History:
May 4, 1776 (245 years ago) Rhode Island becomes the first North American colony to declare independence from England. Rhode Island bristled at efforts from King George III to levy more taxes on the shipping industry. The state was the last state to ratify the Constitution 14 years later because state leaders were resistant to paying import duties to a new federal government.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”