Devotional text: John 13:1-17, 34
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred April 9, 1945
The neighbors/families whose homes are next to yours
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another
In the world we live in now, much of what is startling about the Christian message is commonplace or taken for granted. I remember a conversation with a professor where I lamented how hard evangelism is in our day, and he replied “maybe you misunderstand: we may have already succeeded.”
In one sense, he was right: we are bombarded by messages daily about how the point of life is to love. Everyone wants to proclaim how deep their love is; whether for the worker, the poor, the foreigner, the middle-class, flyover country, the coasts or whatever else comes to mind, strong, abiding love is the motivation.
But what is curious about such loves is that they are almost always at a distance, regarding people that Martin Luther called "over there." As he wrote about the dangers of pilgrimage, he noted that it was easy to love people over there, whether on the road, or never to be met in whatever far distant destination. It was much harder to love the people right around you, and Luther suspected that many pilgrims took to the road precisely to avoid the struggle of loving those close at hand.
Jesus entered fully into that struggle, loving those that were most near to him, those who planned to betray, those who would leave him in the lurch. He knelt down and washed their feet, initiated them into his Passover, shared with them his own life.
As we enter into the Easter Triduum, consider how you are called to love those whom God has placed close to you. As you pray, notice them, in all their glory and weakness—how can you serve them? How can you share life with them?
Awaiting Easter joy ~ Pr. Dave Brooks