Prayer of the Day: Holy God, source of all love, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus gave us a new commandment, to love one another as he loves us. Write this commandment in our hearts, and give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Exodus 12:1-4; 11-14: The First Passover Instituted
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: “This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
Psalm 116:1-2; 1-19: Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illness
I love the LORD because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones. O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!
1Corinthians 11:23-26: The Istitution of the Lord’s Supper
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
John 13:1-17; 31b-35: Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet and The New Commanment
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table,he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example that you should also do as I have done to you Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Sermon: Loving One Another
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Familar passages can be hard to preach, and this passage is a great example. It contains Jesus’ “love command.” This passage is so familar that most of us assume we know it before we hear it. Besides–what can we add to “love one another?” These are words that are equally easy to understand and hard to follow.
So, first let’s remember the context of these words. This section begins with the accent on the Last Supper. Here we’re told that Jesus, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” As we continue Jesus has washed the feet of his disciples, Judas has just departed to betray Jesus, and the rest of the disciples are confused. At just this moment of drama and tension, Jesus offers these words, “I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This tells us a great deal about the kind of love Jesus is talking about. This isn’t romantic love, being nice or loving those who love us back. Remember, when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet–Judas was there and had his feet washed too. Now Jesus will demonstrate just how much God loves the world by dying for those who do not love him. Love is hard because it is self sacrificing. It means putting the good of the other first, even when it hurts.
It’s interesting that these are the words that Jesus leaves with his disciples. He could have left any number of commands but instead, he offered this simple and challenging word, “Love one another.” As the song goes, Jesus agrees that the whole world will know that we are Christians not by our sermons or our sacraments or our buildings. . . but by our love. It’s just that important.
So now that we’ve set the scene; we can remember the times that we have and often do love one another. Sometimes this love command seems so challenging we assume its an ideal, a lofty goal that none of us will ever reach. But while we don’t love perfectly, we do love.
Today love looks like the to me: we stay away from one another for the other’s protection We take only what we need so the other can have also. We check in with one another with phone calls, notes and cards. We are willing to help one another as we are able. We continue to pray for one another. But there have been times when I’ve found it hard to love the other; especially when they are doing something that puts others in danger; like not staying away from each other. When this happens I pray for God’s forgivness and strength. Think of the times this past week in your own lives when you’ve been able to love and when it’s been hard to love.
But let us remember that above and beyond Jesus’ command to love is Jesus’ actual ACT of love. Jesus goes to the cross to demonstrate first that, “God so loved the world.” Jesus didn’t go to the cross to make God loving or to satisfy God’s justice. Jesus went to the cross to show in word and deed that God is love and that we, as God’s children, are loved. So whether we succeed or fail in our attempts to love one another–God in Jesus loves us more than we can possibly imagine. And having of this love we are set free and sent forth once again, to love one another. Amen.
God of compassion, your Son Jesus Christ, the great physician, made the broken whole and healed the sick. Touch our wounds, relieve our hurts, and restore to us wholeness of life, especially Kim, Audrey, Arlene, Loren, Karen, Harlan, Nathan, Madelon and those we name in our hearts. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God, our refuge and strength, our present help in time of trouble, care for those who tend to the needs of others. Strengthen them in body and spirit. Refresh them when weary; console them when anxious; comfort them in grief; and hearten them in discouragement. Be with us all, and give us peace at all times and in every way. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Merciful God, in the stillness of our souls we listen for your voice to know again that you are God. Quiet our restless hearts with the knowledge that you stand with us in the shadows, keeping watch over your own. Rekindle our faith and light the lamp of hope within our hearts. Then deal with us as seems best to you, for where you lead we can confidently go with Jesus. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God, the generations rise and pass away before you. You are the strength of those who labor; you are the rest of the blessed dead. We rejoice in the company of your saints. We remember all who have lived in faith, all who have peacefully died, and those most dear to us who rest in you. Give us in time our portion with those who have trusted in you and have striven to do your holy will. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you with favor + give you peace. Amen.