This Sunday we will hear the portion of the story of Jesus’ last days among us in which he implores his disciples, his friends, to keep one new commandment long after he is gone; “love one another.” These are words we hear in scripture throughout the telling of Jesus’ short tenure with his beloved followers and yet perhaps nowhere is the import more obvious or weighty than on this night as he gathers them one last time for a meal and to say goodbye.
We are now halfway through the season of Eastertide- the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost. It is the season following the resurrection and prior to the ascension when we are reminded of the mystery of welcoming the risen Christ- the new and not altogether comprehensible identity of God’s love in a different form. And, I confess, it is the part of our collective faith story that I both yearn to understand and still struggle with on a daily basis.
For years I have looked for help to make sense of this mystery, this transformation of Jesus and discern what it means in my life, the life of those I love and in the world. The good news is that I am absolutely certain I am not alone on this journey, and finally realize it is okay to feel nowhere near the proximity of an all-encompassing answer/explanation.
I also take great comfort in garnering a collection of wisdom, insight and inspiration from a plethora of sources- both known and unknown. In the relationships close to home and in the writings and lives of those I have never met. Over the years, Rachel Held Evans has been one of those inspiring voices/writers to me. She died tragically earlier this month at 37yrs old leaving not only a husband and two small children behind, but also an entire extended faith community who she influenced, challenged and inspired through her prolific writing. She once shared words I have taken on to describe moments like this in my own faith journey:
“I am a Christian because the story of Jesus is the story I am willing to risk being wrong about.”
And then, just a few days later, another significant life ended. Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche community died on May 7th. He was recently described as a “gentle giant with a broad steady smile and tufts of white hair. He had a slight bend to his back, as if his posture had adjusted over time to look into the faces of those smaller than him, which was almost everyone,” (Christian Century). He too, through his writings, has been an unexpected companion on my faith journey.
And so, I end this week with the reminder of how precious life is and how important companions are along the way. We indeed need each other as we make our way in the world, learning every day, bit by bit, how to live lives that approximate the commandment Jesus was so clear about sharing at that final meal; “love one another.”
Come how this Sunday to be nurtured and maybe challenged; to be seen and heard as a vital member of a community that needs and wants to walk the way of love. Let us welcome each other “home” to do as Jean Vanier has suggested: becoming a community where we celebrate life together and become a sign of hope for our world.
Maybe the most important thing is to learn how to build communities of celebration.
Maybe the world will be transformed when we learn how to have fun together.
Maybe what the world needs more than anything are communities where we celebrate life together and become a sign of hope for our world.
Maybe we need signs that it is possible to love each other. -Jean Vanier
And may you never forget that you are loved.