Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Just Love: Year B, Easter 5

This Week's Lectionary Texts:
Acts 8:26-40
Psalm 22:25-31
1 John 4:7-21
John 15:1-8

This Week's Reflection:
One of the first things I read this morning was a quote in an email from my sister. A pastor herself, she sends disciple-building quotes every day along with a list of prayer concerns. Today's was from Anthony Robinson from http://www.inwardoutward.org.
"We have imagined that Christianity itself is a religion of virtue. But no, Desmond Tutu reminded us, 'Christianity is not a religion of virtue; it is a religion of grace.' And there's a difference. A religion of virtue says, 'If you are good, then God will love you.' A religion of grace says, 'God loves you.' God loves you despite your foibles and failures, not because you're so good but as a sinner in need of mercy. God loves you; live then as one who is beloved, who has been forgiven."
I have found myself asking over the weeks since Easter what in the world the creators of the lectionary were thinking. I mean we had forty L O N G days of Lent gearing up for the big day to celebrate Resurrection and then almost immediately after Easter, we are back to reading images of the lamb being brought to slaughter. I guess it is true that there aren't many resurrection appearance stories to choose from, so what are you gonna do?

So I read that quote this morning and then I read the lectionary texts with all the craziness of Philip telling the story only to be transported, it would seem, in a manner not unlike being beamed up by Scotty and the gospel throwing a whole new metaphor at us with Jesus providing a Gardening for Dummies lesson. It is that 1 John text that is resonating with me most right now.

Why do we have to continue to go back to an image of Jesus as the lamb laying down his life even as we sing the Hallelujahs on Sunday? Because it is such a powerful image of love. And, God is love. We find ourselves returning to these images again and again because through them we are reminded that our virtue gets us nowhere, but the grace of Jesus Christ frees us for living the resurrected life.