Saturday, June 16, 2018

June 17 and 24, 2018: "What's the buzz? Tell me what's a-happening."

BREAKING NEWS!  Lay Leader Jane Barnett will lead us in Morning Prayer this Sunday, June 17 and Father Riley will lead us in Holy Eucharist Sunday, June 24.  Please join us for the 10am service and the fellowship time following the service.

From Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s book Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus: “Jesus’ words make plain God’s deep desire and dream for us, God’s plan and mission: to draw all people, to invite, to welcome, to include all within the embrace of those arms that were stretched out ‘on the hard wood of the cross.’  As Jesus draws us closer to God, he draws us closer to each other.”
From the Forward: Day by Day (May 19th) “[The Apostle] Paul breaks away from the safety of his circle, taking an incredible risk in following Christ.  His faith reminds me of a saying about ships: ‘Ships are safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are made for.” Neither are we.’

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Father Riley's sermon from June 10, 2018

3 PENTECOST, PROPER V - B- 18         MARK 3. 20-35

“The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat.”

Jesus began his earthly ministry in Galilee after John had been arrested. He called the fishermen, Peter and Andrew, James and John to leave their nets and follow him. Mark tells us that Jesus preached and taught in the synagogue at Capernaum early in his ministry.

There was present on that day a man with an “unclean” spirit. The unholy spirit recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God. Jesus commanded the spirit to be silent and then he cast him out setting the man free of his demonic possession. His actions and words in the synagogue at Capernaum astonished and amazed the people and sent shock waves as far as Jerusalem.

This, however, was only the beginning. Christ continued his mission of preaching and teaching and healing as he made his way from Galilee to Judea and back again. More than one demonic possessed soul was rescued in the process. His fame spread and the news of his teaching and his power over the unclean spirits brought scribes from Jerusalem to see exactly what he was up to.

It wasn’t just those who were possessed that he healed but the lame, the blind, and as we heard in last week’s gospel, a man with a withered hand. The authorities conspired to get rid of him. The people could not get enough of him. They were hungry for his teaching about God and the coming Kingdom and they continued to be amazed at his power to heal and to cast out demons.

Everywhere he went, the crowds followed him and gathered around him so much so, Mark tells us in today’s gospel that he and his disciples could not even eat. Strange how people interpret the same things they see and hear differently. Mark tells us that some of his own people, some who had known Jesus from childhood, thought that he was out of his mind.

The scribes naturally jumped on that bandwagon and proclaimed that he had an unclean spirit. Jesus was not from God, they said, but was in league with Beelzebub, the lord of the flies, a god worshiped by the Philistines. Here he is called the ruler of the demons.

The scribes were trying to discredit Jesus. He didn’t fit into their scheme of messiah. He had no credentials. His own family and those who knew him thought he was mad. Thus, they sought to label him as such. He would have to be in league with the devil to be doing what he was doing. That would explain it, and it would also justify doing whatever it would take to “silence” him.

The impossibility of demons fighting against themselves illustrates the irrational pride and envy of the Pharisees in their opposition to Jesus. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is blasphemy against the divine activity of the Spirit, that is, blasphemy against pure goodness. A sin against the Son of Man is more easily forgiven because the Jews did not know much about Christ.

But blasphemy against the Spirit, whose divine activity they know from the Old Testament, will not be forgiven because it comes from a willful hardness of heart and a refusal to accept God’s mercy. Once you label what is in fact the work of the Holy Spirit as the work of the devil, there is no way back. Jesus’ critics painted themselves in a corner. They were blinded to the truth.

Obviously, they had forgotten the words of God to the serpent in the garden: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Jesus makes the declaration knowing that those who blasphemed the Spirit are calling pure, divine goodness, “evil,” and are beyond repentance by their own choice.

With that exchange ended, Jesus is told that his mother and members of his immediate family are outside and wish to see him.  They too think that there is something wrong with him and wish to take him home. However, they have not yet understood his true identity and mission. They are not seated at his feet.

He points to a spiritual family based on obedience to the will of the Father in heaven as being his family. It is a statement that sent shock waves through the audience as it shattered the traditional Jewish concept of family. The scribes and those who knew him, now even his own family thought him mad and labeled him so. That is what we do is not it, when we find ourselves opposed to some idea or someone who differs from us or who does not fit into our scheme of things.

We convince ourselves that what they say or do is simply “crazy.” It doesn’t fit with our way of thinking or what we believe to be true. Thus, we label it as such. Moreover, when we do there is no going back. No way are we going to change our minds. No one or anything will convince us that we are wrong. The division we create is permanent.

And so it was for those who opposed Jesus - what he was doing and what he was saying. He must be out of his mind and those who followed him and believed in what he was doing and saying were just as crazy. There is no middle ground for the world today as for Israel then. Jesus is not a mildly interesting historical figure, as some in today’s world would like for him to be, another label, if you will, designed to neutralize him.

He is either the promised one who ushered in God’s kingdom, or else he is a dangerous madman. Those of us who chose to follow him and proclaim him to be the Son of the Most High God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world must be prepared to face opposition of all sorts, sometimes subtle, sometimes threatening. And we must learn how to respond.

The call to follow Jesus, to listen to him, to model our lives after Him, even if those outside think us crazy, is what matters. The Church in every generation, in every place, needs to remember this and act on it. The gospel, and allegiance to Jesus, produces a division, often an unexpected and unwelcome one, in every group, family, and society.

However, “we do not lose heart…” as St. Paul encourages us in today’s Epistle, “for this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure…”

This is the Hope to which you and I have been called in Him who died and rose again - the hope of glory. God will give us the grace to live by Faith and the Holy Spirit will enable us to do His will if we stick with Jesus, whatever the cost. AMEN+

Monday, June 4, 2018

Father Riley's sermon from June 3, 2018

BREAKING NEWS!  Father Riley will lead us in Holy Eucharist again this coming Sunday, June 10, 2018.  Please join us for the 10am service and the fellowship time following the service.

2 PENTECOST, PROPER 4 - B - 18       MARK 2. 23-3.6

“On the Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields…” Today’s passage always brings to mind two things from my past. I lived in Iowa for 7 years. And you haven’t seen cornfields until you have been to Iowa!

Oh, we have them around here too, but up there they stretch for miles as far as the eye can see. I am sure many of you have seen the movie “Field of Dreams” that was made in Iowa. In it a man walking through the cornfields quickly disappears from sight.

Obviously the Pharisees in today’s gospel must have been walking next to Jesus and his disciples in order to observe them plucking the heads of grain and eating them. They were hungry. The Pharisees criticize Jesus for their leniency in the application of Sabbath law.

The Torah explicitly prohibits “labor” on the Sabbath. Courts do not meet. Shops are closed. There is no buying or selling. No labor is to be performed although the law does not define “labor. “ And that brings me to my second thought about today’s passage.

Several years ago now I was fortunate enough to be in Jerusalem with our then Bishop McPherson. We were attending a Gafcon conference together made up of leaders from around the Anglican Communion. Our return flight out of Telav was due to depart on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

There are still areas of Israel today where the Sabbath is strictly kept. Our hotel for instance stopped running the elevators on the Sabbath. We had to walk down several fights of stairs with baggage in hand. We arrived at the airport mid-afternoon, although our flight was not scheduled to depart until around 7p.m.

The Bishop, you see, was afraid we might miss it! Thus, we left too early to have lunch. None of the shops were open in the airport. There was no place to get a bite to eat or anything to drink. The Jewish Sabbath runs from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
We simply had to wait until Sabbath had ended before we could buy anything to eat. If there had been grain fields nearby we would have been seen plucking the heads, I assure you!

Keeping the Sabbath was, of course, one of the Ten Commandments, and it had been reinforced by the prophets and by subsequent Jewish teaching prior to Jesus’ coming on the scene. It was one of the things that marked out the Jews, over the centuries from their pagan neighbors.

It was one of the things that reminded them, that they were God’s people. It was a sign that they belonged to the One True God, the creator of heaven and earth, who had himself rested on the seventh day. The observance of the Sabbath had been for Israel a remembering, a bringing into the present the Exodus story.

It was not a nostalgic ritual, but a command to remember that God had loved Israel enough to bring the people to freedom. To keep the Commandment was to celebrate in remembrance God’s creation and redemption, past, present and future.

In a way, the Pharisees had forgotten to remember this in their criticizing Jesus’ disciples. They had forgotten the point and priority of the Sabbath. Israel’s memory had faded into laws and rules. Jesus’ response reminded them that God is concerned for all our needs, not our rules.

Even David ate the Bread of the Presence, Jesus reminded them, when hungry and in need. Jesus’ response from a biblical story was intended to prove that the permission he granted to his disciples was within the bounds of the biblical laws of Sabbath rest.

However, Christ did not stop there. Jesus puts the question to the Pharisees in the strictest terms: if the Sabbath speaks of creation and redemption, the answer is obvious.

“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” and he added, “so that the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

What Jesus is saying here is that the Sabbath must serve human need. The Pharisees used this principal only in response to danger to human life. In healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, Jesus extends the principal to apply to a situation of human discomfort.

Since the Son of Man has been made Lord of the Sabbath, the Father has granted to the Son complete dominion over the earth, including dominion over the divinely ordained commandments of scripture. As the Son of Man interprets the law, so shall it be.

The resurrection on Easter morning was the fulfillment of the Sabbath. Jesus’ actions and his explanation, were a coded messianic claim, a claim that in Him the new day was dawning in which even Israel’s God-given laws would be seen in a new light.

God knows our need and our hunger. But do we? The Pharisees memory had faded to the point that the rule mattered more than reality. Our priorities must not be idols, which we worship, or laws, which we contrive and control. We must know our need of God.

He feeds us with the real bread of heaven, which is Christ Jesus Our Lord. In the wilderness of perplexity or affliction, it is God who rescues us. In the midst of perplexity, we do not despair. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, for “we carry the death of Jesus in our bodies so that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in us.”

That is the greater Truth; that in the midst of darkness, we are assured of God’s faithfulness. Laws can never be ends within themselves, but only means to a greater Truth. God’s priority is to Love us. It is our priority to love God.

To love God is to keep His commandments. It marks us out from the rest of the world. Obedience is one way in which we show our love for God in Thanksgiving for His love for us manifested in His having rescued us from sin and death through the redemptive work of His Son, Jesus, the Lord God of Sabbaoth. AMEN+

Monday, May 28, 2018

Father Riley's homily from Trinity Sunday, May 27, 2018

TRINITY SUNDAY - B - 18          JOHN 3: 1-17

Today the Church celebrates the mystery of the Holy Trinity. It is the single doctrine of the Christian faith that separates us from the rest of the world’s religions.

The gospel passage for today takes us back to an earlier period in Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Lord is engaged in a conversation with the Pharisee, Nicodemus under the cover of darkness. Darkness verses light is a major theme of John. The subject is “rebirth” by the Holy Spirit of God, and through the waters of Holy baptism.

Nicodemus begins the conversation by complimenting Jesus, “rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus’ response appears to ignore the Pharisee’s compliment. Instead, Jesus confronts Nicodemus with a challenge to his intellect.

“You can’t see the kingdom of God,” Jesus says, “nor can you enter it” without having been born of water and the Spirit. It is a birth that comes from above. The Pharisee cannot wrap his mind around the concept of being born again Jesus is presenting. Birth to his way of thinking is strictly physical. “How can these things be,” he asks.

As the old priest used to say, Nicodemus has both feet firmly planted in this world. He is up to his armpits in mud. Jesus chastises him in response. “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?” “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”

What is it that bridges the gap between what we see and seem to understand that is real and tangible in this world that surrounds us and what is not seen and understood concerning God and His kingdom if it is not the gift of Faith?

Each week we stand as the Body of Christ and repeat the words of the Nicene Creed as a statement of what we say we believe about God. Contained in the very first paragraph are the words, “we believe in One God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. The “seen and unseen” includes the Holy Trinity as defined by the Creed.

True we cannot see the Holy Trinity. Faith bridges the gap between what we can see and what we can believe. Nicodemus struggled to understand and believe in what Jesus was telling him concerning the Spirit of God and the concept of rebirth.

“The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it,” Jesus told him, “but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Jesus was bringing “light” into the “darkness” that surrounded them, as He brings light into the darkness that surrounds us. He is the Light of the world. However, Nicodemus’ inability to receive the teaching Jesus was giving him concerning the Spirit and the Kingdom of God left him in the dark.

The Holy Trinity is a mystery. Theologians throughout the ages have attempted to explain it in terms that can be easily understood. Yet the concept of the Three in One remains a mystery. God is mystery.

We cannot see the Holy Spirit, but like Jesus told Nicodemus concerning the wind, we can see the effects of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who have been reborn by God’s Spirit.

We cannot see Jesus, as those who lived when he walked this earth, who heard him preach and teach, who watched him perform miracles, but we can know Him and we can see Him in the lives of those who believe in Him and who have chosen to live their lives following his teachings and commandments.

We cannot see the Father, the creator of heaven and earth, but we see His hand at work in the world around us. Faith is God’s gift to those who believe. Jesus said in another place, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Faith opens our eyes to believe in what we can see and what we cannot; to what we can easily understand and what remains a mystery concerning God.

Faith enables us to stand each week and recite the ancient Creed although none of us can understand with our finite mind the infinite it contains. Yet, through Faith, we can profess to believe all that is says about God.

God has given us the grace not only to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity but to keep us steadfast in this faith in order to worship the mystery of the Three in One; a presence we can know and feel. We can feel God’s presence through the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who teaches us what is right and true.

We can know and feel the Love of God, the love He has for each of us, and for the world, which He has made, for it was the Love of God, Jesus told Nicodemus that sent him into the world in the first place, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.

In Him we have been buried and raised to new life, reborn, through the waters of Holy Baptism, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and marked as Christ’s forever.

Jesus is the Light and the Life of the world. He has come and continues to come in order to scatter the darkness that creeps into each of our lives threatening our faith; a darkness that likewise threatens the life of the world.

It is His risen presence that gives us the Hope of new and unending life in Him. For we know, as St. John tells us, that for the Love of God He came not to condemn the world, but through Him the world might be saved. AMEN+

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018

What is the meaning of Pentecost Sunday?

The Christian holiday of Pentecost, which is celebrated on the seventh Sunday (49 days) after Easter, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1–31).

Please wear red Sunday to celebrate Pentecost.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Father Riley's sermon from May 13, 2018

Breaking News:  We will have Morning Prayer next Sunday (May 20th) and Father Riley will lead us in Holy Eucharist May 27 and June 3,  2018.  Services at 10am as usual.

EASTER VII - B - 18               JOHN 17. 6-19

Did you notice the absence of the Paschal Candle? It is lighted on Easter Day and remains lit until the Feast of the Ascension, which occurred on Thursday. How many of you were here for that? It is a major feast day of the church and always but always falls on a weekday. Even in large churches like Grace, it was poorly attended.

Yet it remains a major event in the life of the church. As Jesus descended from heaven, he ascended back into heaven signaling the completion of his earthly ministry. He did so with the promise of sending the Holy Spirit to lead the church into all Truth.

If it is that important, why do not more people come to church to celebrate it? Good question. In today’s gospel, Jesus is preparing his disciples for that very day when he will be taken up from them. The scene is the upper room; the first Eucharist has just been celebrated to the astonishment of the disciples.

Now Jesus is praying for them in what is become known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus. It is called the High Priestly Prayer for it contains the basic elements of a prayer a priest offers to God when a sacrifice is about to be made: glorification, remembrance of God’s works and intercession on behalf of others.

Jesus is praying for his disciples who will be left to continue his mission after he has ascended to the father. Jesus knows that the cross awaits him and that all kinds of trials and temptations await them. After the prayer, he and his disciples will leave the safety of the upper room, cross over the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, and descend to the garden below where he will pray again.

This time, his prayer will be that the cup the father has given him might pass him by. Then he will be arrested, and the rest we know all too well.

Did the disciples understand what Jesus meant when he said he was going to the father and what that would mean for them and the future of the church? I doubt it. They all scattered when Jesus was arrested. None of them were present for the crucifixion save John. No, it was not until Jesus appeared to them post resurrection in that same upper room bearing the marks of the crucifixion that they had any hope of a future.

Moreover, it was not until the Holy Spirit descended upon them, ten days after the Ascension on the Feast of Pentecost that they had the courage to step out into the world and begin to proclaim Him risen from the dead. With their baptism by the Holy Spirit, they were empowered to begin fulfilling their mission of representing Christ to the world.

Speaking of the word world, Jesus uses it some 13 times in today’s passage. The term “world” is used in several distinct ways in scripture. In some cases, it refers to all that glorious, beautiful, and redeemable in God’s creation.  Other times it refers to that which is finite in contrast to that which is eternal. In still other instances, it indicates all that is in rebellion against God.

The rebellion against God reveals several things: (1) union with Christ brings love, truth, and peace; (2) it also brings persecution because the world hates love and truth. (3) The world hates Christ; therefore, it will hate all who try to live Christ like lives.

He prays knowing that his followers will have to deal with evil. He prays for their unity, that they may have joy, and that they will be sanctified in the truth (God’s word is truth). To sanctify is to make holy, to separate, and set apart from the world for the purposes of God.

For the disciples that purpose is to be sent into the world to testify to the Truth, that is, Jesus Christ, and to manifest the Love of God. I doubt any of this was on the minds of the disciple when Judas appeared in the garden with the Temple guards and arrested Jesus. No, I am certain their only thought was survival. It was everyman for himself.

The unity Jesus prayed for has suffered, and continues to suffer many strains and temptations, schisms and apostasies that continue to be repeated in every generation. Our generation is no exception.

The oneness Jesus prays for has to do with Truth, meaning doctrine, that is, what the Church teaches as Truth. The Body of Christ has been splintered in so many different directions over the centuries that the unity Jesus prayed for in the upper room and continues to pray for at the right hand of the father sadly does not exist.

I, for one, do not believe that God ever intended for there to be denominations. For the first thousand years of the life of the Church, there was only one church. For the next six hundred years, there were two. However, the result of the Protestant Reformation in the 1600s has been a continual splintering of the Body of Christ into literally thousands of Christian denominations each claiming to be the true Church and claiming to possess the Truth.

No wonder the mission Christ gave to the Apostles has suffered. In some cases, whole countries once predominately Christian are no longer so. Even our own nation has seen a decline in maintaining the principals of the Christian faith. Christianity can be easily attacked here but hands off to any other religion for fear their followers might be offended.

Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, but I have no doubt that He weeps yet for the state of the Church.

The Ascension is important, then, for two reasons. At the Ascension Jesus took our humanity into heaven. He sits at the right hand of the father and intercedes on our behalf. He has lived the earthly life. He knows how weak we are and how easily we can be deterred in the mission He has given us as Church.

He knows the temptations by which we are plagued. He knows the fears we face. He knows, because He lived and died as one of us. He is one of us and at the same time, the great High Priest that has passed into the heavens, having made the sacrifice that was required for our salvation and the salvation of the world.

Secondly, the prayer he prayed for his disciples in the upper room on the night in which he was betrayed, he continues to pray - for us, his present day followers. Christ intercedes on our behalf for God’s preservation in the revelation that has come through Him, so that our unity in Truth may be that of the Father and the Son.

Himself God’s missionary, he has made us his missionaries. The mission has not changed. As he was sent, so he sends us. “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” remember? His consecration of himself is in view of our consecration to his mission.

Since we have been reborn in Christ through the waters of Holy Baptism we have our citizenship in the Kingdom of God, yet our vocation is in this world that is in rebellion against God; a world that prefers darkness to light.

However, knowing that Christ continues to pray for our protection amid the evil of this world should encourage us to carry out the mission of representing Christ to the world by sharing the love of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Christ also prays that our joy might be full; to be filled with joy is to live with the hope that one day we will be exalted to that place where He has gone before and now sits at the right hand of the Father; where with the Father and the Holy Spirit, He reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. AMEN+

Monday, May 7, 2018

Father Riley's sermon from 6 May 2018

EASTER VI - B - 18                JOHN 15. 9-17

Today’s gospel begins with love and ends with love. Jesus is telling his disciples that he is loved by the father and the love the father has for him he has for us.

John’s gospel is often referred to as the “love gospel” for obvious reasons. The author uses the word frequently on the lips of Jesus, more often than not when he is addressing his followers. It is not just any “love” Jesus is referring to but “divine” love - love that comes from God that usurps our human love.

God’s love stands in mark contrast to our human love as our love for one another is often based on conditions, whereas God’s love is unconditional. It is a love we cannot have apart from Him, and it is a love we cannot know nor can we share without our obedience to God’s commandments.

Jesus tells us plainly “if we keep his commandments, we will abide in his love.” Moreover, we shall know true joy. Sounds simple enough does it not. All we have to do is to love God and share God’s love with each other. However, we all know it is not that simple.

As fallen human beings, we have a tendency to give our love to those who love us in equal measure and refrain from loving those that differ from us, or those that have in some way offended us. Thankfully, God does not give us his love based on our response to it. Thankfully, Jesus did not withhold his love from the world because of those who rejected him, betrayed him, and eventually turned him over to be crucified.

We think of loving another human being in terms of relationship. However, relationships get broken and we fall out of love with that person. In essence, we take our love back and keep it until we find another to give it to based on their giving us theirs. Again, it is not that simple this loving one another as Christ loves us is it.

We want to love the way we want to love and that’s it. Perhaps that is why the medieval writers changed the scripture to read that God is friendship and the one who abides in friendship abides in God. The idea of friendship is a lot easier to get a handle on that loving one another as God loves us. Don’t you think?

In today’s gospel, Jesus elevates his followers from servants to friends. Friendship is higher than servant hood. Servants obey their masters out of fear or a sense of duty; friends obey out of love and an internal desire to do what is good and right.

Jesus’ point is clear; one cannot love God and disobey His commandments. To love God is to obey Him. Jesus shows his friendship of us in his sacrifice; we in our obedience. What does it mean to be a friend of God? The Quakers got it right hundreds of years ago when they began to refer to themselves as “A Society of Friends.”

That is what the Church is - a society of friends. Such friendship in Christ makes us companions at the Lord’s Table. It brings us into a communion of people banded together because God chose us and loved us first. As always the invitation in this friendship is not ours but his.

As friends of God, we express our friendship in our greeting one another when we gather to worship God, when we exchange the Peace, and when we kneel next to each other before God’s altar as equals. We are not members of Christ based on hierarchies or status.

That is how we express it here in this sacred space. Our friendship with God, however, is not meant to be hoarded among ourselves. How do we express our being a friend of God out there in the marketplace of life?

Each week at the conclusion of our worship, we are dismissed with these words, “now go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” The friendship we share here is one we have been commissioned/appointed to bring to others. It is meant to be a mission of joy, a mission of love.

It is the way we fulfill our having been chosen by him and loved by him first. It is the way we bear fruit that will last, by loving one another as he loves us.

Love is the badge, the outward sign, if you will, that identifies us as belonging to him.

The sign of the cross that was traced on our foreheads at baptism that identifies us as Christians in the eyes of God is not visible to the world or to one another for that matter. Thus, Jesus has given us a sign that is visible.

When we express our love of God outwardly in word or deed, we are announcing to the world that we are Christians and that we belong to Him.

Keeping God’s commandments keeps us abiding in His love and enables us to love one another with the love God has for each of us even when we would otherwise chose not to love.

Fellowship with Jesus, fruit bearing, and prayer, are all dependent on obeying His command to love. Those who have this spirit of loving obedience are open to receive and understand the revelations of the Father and to become more fully human.

That is why Jesus came - to elevate us from being merely human to being fully human; to give us freedom and joy, to bear fruit that will last. Whether it be in terms of a single life changed because we have loved someone as Jesus loves us, or in turn of a single decision that we had to make that changed us or someone else for the better.

Perhaps it was a single task we had to perform, through which, though we couldn’t see it at the time, the world became a different place. All of which have made both the lover and the beloved more truly human.

The test of our loyalty to Christ and our loving obedience to God remains the simple, profound, dangerous and difficult command Jesus gives to his friends in today’s gospel: “love one another.” AMEN+