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.” John 13
Today we celebrate the lesser feast of Francis Gaudet who was an educator and a reformer for prison education and this passage from John’s gospel was chosen as a reading in her memory.
Loving people seems so simple.
Now that the boxes and bows are bagged up and the tree is slowly drying up, we live with this baby in our midst. It last on its back clutching the air with its fingers and toes unaware that the spikes which will one day pierce these hands and feet are larger than their post-Christmas hosts. Soft, pink, pudgy, moist baby flesh seems underserving of anything and a mother’s kisses and a warm cloth. The baby lays there, clutching the cosmos, reaching out with those dark eyes, determined to join what has been broken, link what has separated, redeem what is amiss. And we are that which Jesus comes to rejoin.
While God does God’s work through Jesus to rejoin, reknit, redeem – we simply have been told to love one another. It is simple work, like when a doctor tells you to breathe in and out, or look straight ahead, or turn and cough. Simple actions while very highly educated eyes and ears and hands touch you to see what needs to be fixed – to see what is causing the pain – eyes and hands part of a massive cosmic health-care-system called redemption.
The way and orderly or nurse cannot comprehend all that medicine can accomplish, I am just a priest and a potter and cannot comprehend all that redemption means, how it works, what’s at play behind the curtains – which seem from time to time to move and occasionally seem to get very thin.
So I wait, with humanity. We re-live the story of a child come to change things. And things have changed. And I think the church helps, most days, to show the glory of a God who wants us to live fully, authentically.
Last night I saw Into the Woods. When questioned by Cinderella about why he was unfaithful to her se smiled a charming smile and simply, authentically said: “I was raised to be charming, not authentic.” The line seemed so simple, as Grimm Fairy takes make them.
Being loving is not the same as being charming.
Perhaps the darkest vines and branches of the woods in which we live are those in which we confuse charm and love – in advertising, in life, in love, in friendship, in work, in church, in community.
So the Prince who comes to us is not charming. He is vulnerable. And loving.
What we need is a Prince of Peace.
Thank God we have one.