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Sixth Sunday of Easter 9th May 2021

Sermon      Sixth Sunday of Easter                  9 May 2021

Acts 10:44-48.  Psalm 98.   1 John 5:1-12.     John 15:9-17

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.

As we near the end of this Season of Easter, we hear again the words of Jesus after he went out  of the upper room that Jesus and the disciples had shared that final meal. I am struck by the simplicity of the text, and it’s repetitive style. The words seem to moves on as in circles, or, perhaps better, in spirals. Yet, in this passage we hear words divinely spoken and revealed. In these words, we discover a theology of the Holy Trinity, and the meaning and purpose of human life. In these words, we can truly embrace all that God intends for us.

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.

Jesus opens his heart to his closest friends, and in the midst of that final conversation before Jesus faces the Cross, he shares with them these most important words. Words that the disciples will remember long after Jesus death and resurrection. Jesus speaks of love – αγαπη. The word love occurs some 31 times from chapter 14 to the end of chapter 16. The love Jesus speaks of is not trivial, or sentimental. On the contrary, it’s too big for us to comprehend. In principle, the Father’s love, Jesus love, the love poured out in the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples’ is beyond our comprehension.

It’s source come from the Father who loves the Son and the Father loves his Son so much he gives to Jesus everything he himself is, only keeping the facet of his place as God the Father. But this love that the Father bestows on Jesus goes much further. Jesus speaks of the Father’s love for him, not just because of his identity as the Son, but also because Jesus truly loves the Father, and fulfills his commandments. That is because Jesus lives permanently in the presence of his Father, loving and worshipping him without allowing any sin to break communion between them. But more than this, Jesus willingly fulfills his mission on earth, which is to bring you and me into God’s kingdom, into the circle of God’s Trinitarian love. Jesus pours out his love on us so much so that he lays down his life , in order that we may become the children of God.

The Holy Spirit is not explicitly mentioned in today’s gospel reading, but if we go back to chapter 14, Jesus says in verse 15, ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate (the Holy Spirit) to be with you forever’. As the Father loved me, says Jesus. The Holy Spirit is in Person the love which the Father eternally pours out to the Son, and which the Son Eternally pours back to the Father. So I have loved you. The Father poured out the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism, confirming his love for Jesus. And in turn Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit on the disicples, promising to be with them always. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit would abide with them, with us, and in us.

It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that you and I are able to abide in that love.

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.

Abide in my love. These words of Jesus in our bible translations of the Greek may also be interpreted to say, ‘Abide in the love that is mine’. Throughout Jesus discourse in John’s gospel he speaks of ‘the joy that is mine’, ‘the judgement that is mine’, ‘the commandments that are mine’, ‘the peace that is mine’. The small verbal distinction underscores for us the kind of love which we are called to abide. Just as the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father, so to Jesus loves the disciples so much that he promises the Holy Spirit. And again, more than this because Jesus expression of love meant he faced the cross for us.

Abide in my Love

How do you and I abide in Christ’s love? For we have been given both the gift of the Holy Spirit and the command to love. The gift of the Holy Spirit pours out God’s love into our hearts. And by the grace of God enables us to offer back to God our love from our hearts, each  one of us personally, freely and actively. This is the task of our Christian lives. To offer the gift of love to one another and to the world. Not in a trivial or sentimental way, but in acts of kindness, generosity, and compassion.

God’s love demands of us that we put aside all selfish, angry, proud, lustful, grasping, and vain thoughts and actions. In Galatians 5:22 we read, ‘By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. God calls us to cultivate and produce the fruit of the Spirit. Not just for ourselves but to the benefit of all around us. It means never ceasing from prayer, from thanksgiving, intercession and love. Abiding in Christ’s love means being ready in principle to lay down our lives for one another.

 As we embrace the love of God, God’s αγαπη, we are invited into a life of where you and I can stand in the grace of God where when in time of need we are called to offer God’s love unreservedly, sometimes stretched, but purified, and deepened, and widened and strengthened, until it flows more easily, spontaneously, naturally, with all the joy of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus gave to his disciple’s and to us a new commandment to love one another. Here today, in the offering of bread and wine, we are welcomed into the Sacrament of love, of life giving joy, into abiding in Christ. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love. Amen.

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