9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
The Sixth Sunday of Easter
Easter is 50 days, a week of weeks, 7 times 7 + 1. The third of our great trinitarian festivals, the day of Pentecost, is the fiftieth day of Easter! On this sixth Sunday of Easter that's the 36th of the 50 days of Easter, we're back again with Jesus on Maundy Thursday and his concluding discourse (speech, talk , homily, reflection, sermon) to his disciples and friends. We're back with Jesus before his crucifixion and resurrection.
During this season of Easter, our readings from John's gospel and from the Acts of the Apostles particularly have shown us the shape and form of the servant church God calls us to be—and in the power of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, God enables us to be. Just as in last week's gospel account, this week we hear more about obeying and abiding in Jesus Christ. Abiding means staying put wherever you are.
In our Maundy Thursday liturgy, we participated in a rite of hand-washing that parallels Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and friends in the gospel according to John. Towel and basin ministry particularly point to the calling of deacons, the servant order or class of the church, yet God calls every one of us to lives of nitty-gritty helping out with the needs of others. But we do not do any of this alone by ourselves. Our lives are like last's week's image of God as the winegrower / vine dresser, Jesus as the vine, as as the intertwined (inter-vined?) branches that support, compliment and complement each other.
The relationship between patron / sponsor and client / servant was socially constructed and expected in Jesus' day; in this passage Jesus tells us our relationship with him mainly is friendship and all the intimacy and closeness friendship entails.
In her summary of the readings for last week, Julie mentioned joy. In verse 11 this week Jesus tells us, "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete." In our class discussions we focus so much on "do not fear" and our human tendency to be scared and apprehensive, we often forget joy. You can't be afraid and joyful at the same time.