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My Disciples

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35 NRSV

For the last few years, I have been able to worship with people of different denominations. I especially hold dear the prayer time with other Brockton clergy and the mayor every other Friday. Though there are marked differences in how we worship and pray, something extraordinary happens when we are united. It does not matter whether we are Methodist, Episcopalian, Baptist, or Pentecostal–we come as one body with Christ as our head and one bride to Christ our coming groom, to offer our prayers and praise to our one Lord.

The setting of today's verse comes immediately after Jesus' betrayal by Judas. Jesus knew that he would be with them not much longer. Through his suffering, death, and resurrection, he would be glorified. In preparing them for that time, he gave them a new commandment, "that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another." (v. 34)

Jesus did not send them out as disciples, each preaching a different message, but they should go forward loving each other as he has loved them. That was it! Plan and simple. How we worship and what our doctrines say are matters of tradition and biblical interpretation–at the center of it all is a loving God with one message for all of humanity: accept Christ, acknowledge our sins and ask forgiveness, allow ourselves to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, and live a life of Christ sharing that love with our brothers and sisters saved and unsaved. That ability to love despite our differences marks us as Jesus Christ's disciples.

And when we get to heaven, as the old hymn says,

When we all get to heaven,

What a day of rejoicing that will be!

When we all see Jesus,

We'll sing and shout the victory!

Surrounding us will be our Catholic, Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal brothers and sisters (forgive me if I've left anyone out.) For Jesus' bride comprises all who have been his beloved and faithful servants who have shown love for each other.

Jesus, our Divine Source of all Love, we are children of many traditions, united in the echo of your beloved disciple's words: "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Forgive the divisions that have shadowed your light, the walls we've built with hands of fear and pride. Grant us the courage to tear them down, brick by brick, replaced by bridges of understanding and grace. Baptize our hearts with your boundless love, a love that knows no creed, color, or boundary. Let it flow through us, a rushing river washing away the stains of prejudice and hate. Guide our hands to acts of compassion, not limited by the labels we wear. May we be instruments of your love, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, tending the wounds of body and spirit alike. In the silence of our prayers, may we hear your whispers of unity, a symphony composed of diverse voices blending in perfect harmony. Let our differences become strengths, enriching the tapestry of your love. Inspire our leaders to embrace the path of reconciliation, seeking common ground over self-serving gain. May dialogue and understanding pave the way for a world where love reigns supreme. Jesus, our Source of all Love, binds us in your embrace. May the world see in our unity the reflection of your perfect love and know, without a doubt, that we are indeed your disciples. Amen.


Pastor Tim

“When We All Get to Heaven,” United Methodist Hymnal #701

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