I've posted a new article at i.ucc.org about one of this week's lectionary passages. I found the passage to be one that sounds pretty sappy -- but still with some great meaning. It's called Keep the Commandments -- Here it is:
Everything boils down to this root commandment Jesus gave to the disciples.
OK -- this passage from John 15:9-17 sounds a little sappy. There's all this "abide in my love" or "remain in my love" talk and it's all so touchy-feely and it gets me wondering if Jesus was ever this sappy or if the storytelling is really what makes the situation seem sappy.
Not that sappy isn't a good thing. It just doesn't grab me the way it may grab others.
And woven into what I call sappiness are two very important thoughts. One is the part where Jesus tells the disciples to keep the commandments. He says that doing that shows love. It also sounds like Jesus is not only talking about the 10 commandments that were known by everyone, but also the two commandments that Jesus said were the most important -- Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
And then he give another commandment: Love one another.
In Eugene Peterson's 'The Message" paraphrase of the Bible this commandment is called a root command. In the King James Version and the New Revised Standard Version it sounds much different -- it's more of a culmination of what Jesus has already said -- 'follow the commandments -- abide in my love and my Father's love -- I'm telling you all this so that you love one another.' And in the New Living Translation it's more like 'the Message' -- where the "love one another" command is something foundational.
Regardless -- I am convinced that Jesus told the disciples to love one another. I'm further convinced that it calls us now to love one another. I'm also convinced that humanity has been failing at that simple command for as long as we've been around.
Nothing sappy about that.