WEEK SIX: RESPONSE
John 15: 12-17 (NRSV)
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.
For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Do not fear,
I will help you.”
On this last day to consider our response to all of God’s goodness, this is what it all comes down to, isn’t it? Everything that Jesus lived and died for are summed up in his final words of encouragement and instruction to his disciples, his friends: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” We are included as his disciples now. Our first priority as followers and friends of Jesus is to reach out to others with his love. This is our word for today: Reach.
After he gives us our mission, Jesus goes on to give us beautiful words of love and blessing. Jesus assures us that he has taught us everything we need to know- everything that he knows from God the Father. He promises us that, as his friends, God will continue to give us all that we ask in order to bear fruit for him, the fruit of love and life for the world. We are to reach others with these fruits of Christ’s love.
Earlier in this chapter of John, Jesus tells us that he is the vine while we are the branches. All that we need to bear and share the fruit of his love comes by being connected with Jesus. We are unable to generate this love on our own. We are only the connecting conduit between Jesus and those we are called to love and help. The love of God flows from Jesus -> through us -> to others.
Isaiah also gives us such a lovely image of connection. God holds our right hand, and we are not to fear. God will help us! God has reached out to us through his Son, Jesus, and God continues to lovingly reach out to everyone. As we cling to God’s hand and then make the next connection by reaching for others, we help extend God’s gracious reach of love.
Envision placing one of our hands in the right hand of Jesus, then reaching out with our other hand to extend that love to others…
Someone is floundering in the tumult of uncertainty and chaos; we reach out as an extension of the strong, stable, anchoring hand of Jesus.
Someone is grieving in the emptiness of loss and heartbreak; we reach out as an extension of the compassionate, comforting, restoring hand of Jesus.
Someone is lost in the darkness of despair; we reach out as an extension of the guiding, illuminating hand of Jesus.
Someone is wallowing in the abyss of pain; we reach out as an extension of the healing, soothing, uplifting hand of Jesus.
Someone is lingering in the shadow of loneliness; we reach out as an extension of the loving, welcoming, clasping hand of Jesus.
Someone is hiding in the closet of fear; we reach out as an extension of the peaceful, reassuring, trustworthy hand of Jesus.
Someone is defensively building a protective wall of isolation; we reach out as an extension of the wounded, empathetic, open hand of Jesus.
We are the branches of the vine. We are the extending conduit for Jesus’ love to flow to others. How might we reach out with that love to make the connection today?
Thank you for reaching us with your love through Jesus. We cling to that love as branches cling to a vine. Help us to produce good fruits of your love and goodness for others to partake. We hold your right hand. Guide us to reach out to others as we let your love flow through us. Amen.