Monday, December 26, 2016

So That Our Joy May Be Complete

By Giovanni Francesco Romanelli 
(Italy, Viterbo, circa 1610-1662) 
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Melanie Rigney

(We) proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:3-4)

Rejoice in the Lord, you just! (Psalm 97:12)

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. (John 20:1A, 2-8)

Lord, help me to love my brothers and sisters.

They are perhaps some of the most human passages in the Gospels, the times that Peter and those sons of Zebedee are bumping up against each other. Clearly, before the coming of the Holy Spirit, there’s some tension and conflict there. Who will sit at the right hand? Who gets to the tomb first? Who does Jesus love best? That’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? It’s all right for Jesus to love Peter… as long as he loves John just a little more. It’s all right for Jesus to get along with John… as long as he gets along with Peter just a little bit better.

The tone changes after Pentecost, as we see in today’s first lectionary reading. Whether 1 John was written by the apostle himself or one of his followers, there’s a difference in worldview. No longer is there a desire to boast or compete. Rather, these are the words of an evangelist, a follower devoted to carrying the Word to the world rather than keeping it to himself. Joy is found only when the Love is shared.

And as we prepare for the changes 2017 will bring in our lives and our world, may we remember that message. May we strive for fellowship with all, and may our every word, thought, and action inspire others to have fellowship with the Lord. May we limit the bumping up against each other as much as humanly possible, and instead share Love.

Contact someone with whom you’ve found it difficult to have a conversation since November 8. Spend some time over dinner or coffee talking about your union in Christ. Leave earthly political discussions for another day.

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