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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, November 13, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 John 2:7–17

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. (NRSV)

The letters we find in the New Testament are often grappling with struggles or misunderstandings in the early Christian communities. Today's verses from 1 John are more like a sermon to congregations striving to live out their life in faith in the second century after Jesus' life and ministry. In the midst of many different spiritual voices seeking the ears of the believers, the author seems worried that the followers of Jesus have become distracted. They have lost track of the heart of the matter.

Thus the author writes to them of an old commandment, found first in the Hebrew Scriptures, Leviticus 19:18: "you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Then this ancient teaching took on new life in the instructions of Jesus to his disciples before his death (John 13:34): "Love one another, just as I have loved you."

In the turmoil of our current national and international circumstances, I need these words drawing me back to what truly matters. I am to discern in all the faces I encounter each day, beginning with my sisters and brothers gathered on Sunday morning, the very image of God. And then I am to serve these beloved children of God with energy, intelligence, imagination and love. May we all find our way together, at the leading of the Spirit, empowered by God's grace.

Loving God, I thank you that your word calls me back time and again when I become distracted. Help me, help all of us, hold on to the heart of the matter, as we strive to live out your boundless love with neighbors through Jesus, our brother and our Savior. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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