Sunday, April 28, 2013
Holy Covenant UMC
Michael Vollmer, preaching
As many of you already know, or may not know, the United Methodist Church has a large focus on missions. Many churches send their youth or a group of people out to somewhere in the world that needs help. And not just in response to major world catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina or the recent tragedies we witnessed last week. The Church does respond in these moments, but also in other moments of need. Moments where there is a need for support and a helping hand as the struggles of everyday life weigh heavily upon so many people around this world.
My home church in Lockport, Illinois that I joined not long after my wife and I married sends a group of youth and a few adults to Red Bird Mission in Kentucky every other year. When my wife was growing up she went several times and those who go do things like help repair roofs, replace windows on homes for people in need, and even dig ditches for various projects and needs. They have helped to fix homes in places where there may be no one else to help. A seminary friend and colleague has taken a group from the church he pastors in southern Illinois to Liberia and while there they have helped to build homes and even a school for the local children to have access to education.
Holy Covenant just this last November sent several people to Miami for a mission trip. And the United Methodists are not alone in these efforts. Almost every denomination of Christianity does this kind of work and sends people out to help. I never had those opportunities in the churches I belonged to growing up, but I continue to be impressed at the willingness of others to go out and help people they have never met before, all in the name of God and love.
In our Gospel reading today Jesus is again with his disciples and this time he gives them a new commandment. He tells them to love each other. Sounds simple enough right? I mean hadn’t Jesus told them awhile back before his death to “love your neighbor as yourself”. These people have been together for a while now and have formed a bond. So this should be simple right? The disciples got this one Jesus. No problem, they are on top of it.
But Jesus did not stop right there. His commandment was not just to love each other, but he continued on to say, “Just as I have loved you, so you must love each other.” Whoa, hang on there for a second. That is a much taller order. I mean think about it. Jesus had spent time with his disciples trying to tell them of the love of God and of the sacrifice he was soon to make for them. He had washed their feet and placed himself as a servant to them. Jesus died on the cross for their sins, for all our sins. All of these things he did out of love. And now He wants them to love each other in the same way? (more…)