Musings from the Manse 2 May 2021

If you have seen nothing but the news reports from India, I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s been more than enough suffering and brokenness to go around this week. It’s easy to wonder where God is in the midst of such disaster, sickness and seeming injustice, and why we humans have such a hard time loving one another, and sharing resources fairly. “How long, O Lord, how long?” we may be tempted to lament.

Fortunately, both this week’s gospel and epistle lessons provide an opportunity to focus on the source of all life, hope, and healing – God as revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ. In the gospel lesson, Jesus is preparing his closest followers for his impending humiliation and death at the hands of an unjust political and social system. They have a tough time hearing and accepting this message because it is simply not part of their worldview of what ought to be happening. One might wonder how they heard all of this talk of abiding and branches bearing fruit. Was it an easily dismissed “duh” moment or perhaps a head-scratching nanosecond of confusion?

However those early followers may have heard and experienced Jesus’ words, we today can see them for the radical, challenging, and inclusive message they bear. This is no sugar-coated dream-o-rama do-it-yourself imagery, but rather a communal mandate for how we as disciples are called to live, bearing fruit and thriving in the vineyard of this world.

And it’s all about the love. Not a saccharine-sweet pop song love, but the radical death-defying love of Jesus the saviour of this world. It’s not about earning or deserving love either. It’s about a love so amazing and so limitless that it continues to pour forth in bread and wine, Word and water, and Spirit-wind. Love is, in fact, the very nature and essence of God, and we are only able to love because God first loved us.

In a world so broken and bruised, this love of God made real in Jesus and extended to us is the only antidote to death and darkness. Indeed, we are commanded to love our brothers and sisters and to constantly draw a wider and more inclusive circle in which Christ’s healing love may be found. No one ever claimed this divine love business would be easy, but we have the promise that in loving one another God lives in us and God’s love is perfected in us. Sounds awfully much like a recipe for a better world.

So even as anger festers and tempers flare, and families mourn the loss of life in India, we individually and in community must choose to abide in God, to be connected to the source of love and life. For it is only in this vital abiding in Christ that we bear the fruits of love, kindness, mercy, and hope. In the face of any pain and suffering the world may dish out, by the grace of God we are equipped and empowered to love: One small act at a time, one person at a time, one moment at a time. 

Rev Nik Wooller

2nd May 2021

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