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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Today’s Reading | 1 John 2:7–14                

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, because you have conquered the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (NRSV)

A few weeks back, a visiting presider at my usual Mass shared something so simple, yet so profound: “Church doesn’t start when we sing the processional hymn. Church starts after we’ve sung the recessional hymn, walk out those wooden doors, and our love for one another is really tested.” It’s easy for us to go to church each week, say our prayers, sing hymns, and listen to a sermon filled with scripture. It’s even easy to share peace with one another—shaking hands with strangers you’ve never met until that Sunday.

But being a Christian and a disciple of Christ isn’t meant to be easy. It’s meant to be messy, confusing, and very frustrating. In today’s reading, we are reminded that the highest commandment is more than just loving God and living in that light. It’s about sharing that same love with our sister and brothers, even when it’s so easy to identify feelings of frustration, annoyance, or judgment.

When we enter through the church doors each week, we find a place of solace and a way to ground ourselves again. We find a way to remind ourselves of how God is always gracing us with light and love but also always inviting us to follow Christ in loving our sisters and brothers despite our differences. If we cut ourselves off from loving those we find difficult or undesirable, we cut ourselves off from being true disciples who love without question or hesitation.

We must remember our ongoing call is to “live out church”—to take the words that we’ve heard, the songs we’ve sung, and the community we created and share that with every living being we encounter.

God of love, help me to invite my sisters and brothers into the light I so easily recognize in you. Help me find that light in others’ lives and reciprocate with love. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens, Director, Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center

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