St. Luke's Episcopal Church - Homily
Heidi Edson / 09 May, 2021
6th Sunday of Easter
Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Our story for today from John's Gospel continues Jesus' metaphor of the vine and the branches. Jesus told His disciples: "I AM the vine and you are the branches." We learned that God, the Father is the vinedresser. God enables the fruit to grow on the vine. Jesus, as the vine, bears this fruit in the branches who are all of us and the people of God.
As the branches in the vine who are fed by the vine's nourishment from the vinedresser, we must seek to reach out beyond our own selves to extend our arms and hearts outward to others. We branches are the ones who bear the fruit that is intended to nourish and restore the hearts of so many in our world. How then can we share this fruit we enjoy with others? As God's branches, we give of our fruit by simply abiding in God's love!
In our busy and over-worked culture that keeps many of us "hopping", simply being able to rest in Christ that we, as God's people, are called to do becomes challenging. But if we, ourselves, don't regularly set aside time to rest or abide in Christ, we will wither and fall away as the branches.
This "abiding in the vine" (in Christ) injunction we read from John's Gospel is our active response of waiting before God. It is this patient waiting and resting in God that opens us up and allows the Spirit of God to enter within us. The Spirit then moves among and through us. That's how we reach our world for Christ.
In today's Gospel Reading from John, Jesus tells the disciples what this "love of God" message is all about. Jesus says: "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." Here we learn two things about Love as God intends for us: 1) love is both sacrificial and obedient.
Here's the rub. If we do not keep God's commandments, then we cannot know this love and, furthermore, cannot remain in this love. Keeping God's commandments presupposes obedience, a term we modern folks don't really care for these days. We prefer the notion of "freedom" or "independence" instead. Somehow we have come to believe that being obedient is for the weak and not for the strong or powerful among us.
Jesus knew this about our nature as human beings. That's why He kept on referring to Himself as the role model for obedience to God. His life was one of complete obedience to the Father. No one who knows Jesus can say Jesus was weak! Jesus obeyed His Father to the death because He knew His Father loved Him all the way through His death into resurrected life.
And now Christ tells us to obey His commandment to love one another. Jesus directs us from Himself and through Himself to all of us as His disciples who are alive today. Jesus' commandment of love given us is so that we, in turn, will reach the unloved in Christ's Name.
The love we impart to others is the kind of love that "lays down one's life for one's friends." as John's Gospel writes. It is unlikely any of us will physically "die" for this love we give to others, but we are called to a love that places the other's needs and interests above our own needs and interests.
This Sunday is also Mother's Day. On this day we honor our mothers and all those who have "mothered" us. We remember the sacrifices all mothers made for our wellbeing. Every mother (whether a loving parent or not so much) has sacrificed for our behalf. that's what mothers do!
My own mother sacrificed her dream of working in retail. She chose to put her family first. Of course, growing up, I was not appreciative of her sacrifices made. As an adult, I can now much better see what she had to give up in order to provide my brothers and me with a stable home. Her commitment to the family opened up doors for my brothers and me as teenagers and as young adults.
Here's a Mother's Day poem (2011) I found from "Wordpress" (online). It speaks of the love of a mother. As you listen to it, imagine yourself talking to God as God's child and as God's friend-
Before I was myself you made me, me
With love and patience, discipline and tears,
Then bit by bit stepped back to set me free,
Allowing me to sail upon my sea,
though well within the headlands of your fears.
Before I was myself you made me, me.
With dreams enough of what I was to be
and hopes that would be sculpted by the years,
Then bit by bit stepped back to set me free,
Relinquishing your powers gradually
To let me shape myself among my peers.
Before I was myself you made me, me,
And being good and wise, you gracefully
As dancers when the last sweet cadence nears
Bit by bit stepped back to set me free.
For love inspires learning naturally:
The mind assents to what the heart reveres.
And so it was through love you made me, me
By slowly stepping back to set me free.
Jesus calls us "friends." Let us be friends of Christ by loving the other and by lovingly offering the hungry the rich and delicious fruit from the Vine, Jesus, who is our Parent and our Friend.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!