Friday, April 6, 2012

I'll Take That Criticism! It's About Love!

Year ago, I was officiating a funeral. Just beforehand, a woman came up to meet me. She was active in another denomination and asked what kind of preacher I was. When I told her my faith tradition, she rolled her eyes. "You know what I don't like about Methodists?" Her voice took on a singsong tone. "All they do is talk about LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!"

I told her that there are some criticisms I'm glad to take! I have been reflecting on this ever since. Why shouldn't we talk all the time about love? When pressed, Jesus boiled down all the law and prophets into love of God and love of neighbor. The only time he said he was giving a new commandment was when he said "love one another as I have loved you." The first part of that phrase, loving one another, is not so new. But the second part, "as I have loved you," was profoundly incarnational. This self-giving agape love is the very definition of who we are to be. Jesus said, "this is how they will know you are my disciples, that you have love for one another." For Jesus, that's the measure that is the only measure that counts.

It's all about love, nothing more and nothing less.

Tonight was Maundy Thursday, the night we celebrate Jesus' institution of holy communion when gathered with his friends for Passover. It's called "Maundy" to refer to the new commandment to love as Jesus loves, and it is the night he washed his disciples' feet. My funeral friend's criticism is exactly what we celebrate ... it's all about love.