“Love one another, as I have loved you.”

“Love one another, as I have loved you.”

Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum
The Word of the Lord endures forever

The Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Anno Domini 2017

Dear members and friends,

Greetings in the name of Jesus who said “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

There is never enough love in this world, not even among God’s family on earth—the Holy Christian Church.  There is a story about the Apostle Saint John.  In his old age, he would attend church in Ephesus.  On one occasion he was asked, “Why do you always say ‘Children, love one another.’”  He answered, “Because that is what Jesus always said to us.”  Indeed He did.  John the Apostle in chapters 13 and 15 of his Gospel records the words of Jesus where he teaches His disciples to, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”  The will of Jesus Christ is that His disciples should love one another in the same way that He loves them.  This is a something we need to learn and relearn throughout our lives.

“As” is a Cross word.  The big word in this passage is “as.”  He said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” With what manner of love has He loved us?   He made His love known by going the way of the cross.  His love is sacrificial, not selfish.  He laid down His life that we might gain everlasting life.  “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”(John 15:13)  By this kind of love, He gained for us the forgiveness of sin and through that forgiveness life eternal.  He made the ultimate sacrifice for us that we might have life and have it abundantly.  This is the kind of love He has for us.  The word “as” directs us to the cross.

He teaches His disciples to follow in His footsteps.  We also are His disciples.  We have heard and believed in His mercy, the forgiveness of our sins.  This faith makes us His disciples.  A disciple is one who follows a master and learns from him.  In our case the Master is likewise Jesus.  His lesson is Love one another, as I have loved you.

“As” equals the cross!  To love one another “as” He loves us brings the cross into our lives.  By taking up the cross, we die to self that we may live to others. His cross empowers us to love one another.  This sacrificial love can only be learned from Him.  He says, “Love one another” because this does not come naturally to our human nature.  This is why we must learn it.  This is why the little word “as” becomes so big.  From Him we learn to love one another even in the moments when the beloved may not be so lovable!  He loved the unlovable world, the world that rejected Him and finally crucified Him.  Yet, in the midst of His agony He cries from the cross, “Father forgive them.”  This kind of love we learn only from Him.

The cross sets God’s love and Christian love apart from all other kinds of love we encounter in this world.  It is sacrificial, not selfish love. That we may grow stronger in this love, our Lenten theme is

Love one another.

Love one another, as I have loved you.

We begin the season March 1st with the traditional Ash Wednesday reading from Joel which prophetically speaks of the sacrificial work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  The following Wednesdays in Lent we will take up five themes based on Jesus’ “new commandment” to love one another.  March 8th: Two kinds of love, as taught in the Law and as taught in the Gospel.  March 15th: The big little word, “as.”  “Love one another, as I have loved you.” March 22nd: Jesus’ love forms our love. March 29th: The fruits of Christ’s love, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. April 5th, The disciples of Jesus are known by their love for one another.

Lent; repentance, renewal and refreshment.  Lent is intended to be a time of repentance, renewal and refreshment leading to a deeper and stronger appreciation of the gift of Christ. It prepares us to celebrate in the resurrection of Jesus the great victory over the power of sin and death at Easter.

Lent is understood as a time of fasting. Biblical fasting does not always take the form of physical fasting. The fasting of our Lenten tradition usually takes the form of self-denial in setting aside the usual routine for a time in order to gather in prayer and meditation. In this way Lenten gatherings aim to bring forth the fruits of repentance and prepare us for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ -Easter. By “assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25) in Lenten devotion we enrich our journey through this vale of tears, grow in love and remain well prepared for the day of joy in that great assembly in Glory.

Encourage one another to attend. Over the years, Saint James congregation has enjoyed excellent attendance during the Lenten season. Let us continue the tradition and urge others to join us. As the Apostle says “let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:24) by urging one another join with us in the blessings of Word, Sacrament and prayer in these services.

We begin on Ash Wednesday, March 1st, with The Divine Service and continue each Wednesday with Vespers. Each evening begins with a soup supper. Serving begins at 6:30 PM with the services following at 7:30 PM throughout the season.

Lenten blessings, St. James board of Deacons.

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