“Sing to the Lord a new song!” And yet it sounds like the same old song we’ve been hearing. In Acts, the proclamation of the gospel unfolds outward from Jerusalem unto the whole world. Last week St. Phillip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch and this week the Spirit is poured out on the Gentiles. And John’s rhapsody on love rolls on: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” Sound familiar?
|Acts 10:44-48 • Ps. 98
1 John 5:1-6 • John 15:9-17
Psalm 98 echoes the universalist themes from the passage in Acts. The fulfillment of God’s messianic promise means at the same time the vindication of Israel and the blessing of the whole world through Israel: “He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel, and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” In the psalm this fulfillment comes as a kind of wild rumpus with timbrel and harp, a global uproar. All the ends of the earth join in praising the God of Israel, and not only all the nations, but also the whole creation. No one — and seemingly no thing — gets left out of the cosmic praise band: “Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it, the lands and those who dwell therein. Let the rivers clap their hands.” If that last line does not make you smile then you must not be saying it right. “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised,” another psalm says, “in the city of our God” (Ps. 48:1). But the city itself has spilled out to take in the whole world: “you have increased the nation, you are glorified; you have enlarged all the borders of the land” (Isa. 26:15). A joyful noise indeed.
“Abide in my love.” Does this song ever get old? Will I ever outgrow the true vine, ever be ready to branch out on my own? No. Will I ever be able to be a child of God without brothers and sisters? No. The Lord has made it this way: “This is my commandment,” he tells us, “that you love one another as I have loved you.” This is how you stay attached to Jesus: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.”
“I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” Our life is a partaking in the life of Christ. His life is divine and immortal, and he promises that our partaking of it will never be over. In this alone lies all our hope for eternal life, to receive from our Lord life undying and everlasting, to drink living water and “never thirst again.” What else does he promise us but “a well of water springing up to eternal life “ (John 4:14)? And how else do we share in his immortality, participate in the divine life itself, become transformed by it, transfigured by it, and likened to it? How else but love? Remember, what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is that we will be like him, for we shall see him as he is. This song remains new for we still have not learned the last verses. And we will never exhaust them.
Our song will always be new because there will be no end to love. Our faith will be eclipsed by sight, our hope fulfilled, but love will not end. Love is our life and love will be our life unto the ages of ages: “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Look It Up
Read 1 Cor. 13:8-13.
Think About It
Do you feel in tune with God’s song?