“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9)
Beginning with our petition “Pour into our hearts such love towards you” in today’s collect, our worship on this day invites us to respond to divine love with love. In the gospel reading, we hear Jesus inviting us into his love: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.” Our abiding, our remaining or dwelling, in the love of Jesus is transformative, changing servants into friends and drawing us into obedience to his commandment “that you love one another as I have loved you.”
The passage from the fourth chapter of the First Epistle of John emphasizes that this love, this obedience, is a matter of responsiveness to God’s initiative. “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us;” and again, “We love because he first loved us.” But our response concerns not only how we approach God, but also how we regard one another, “for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” Hence, the apostolic invitation with which the passage begins, “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.”
The opening of the fifth chapter of 1 John continues with this concept of being “born of God” by love and faith. Those who respond with belief to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ become “children of God.”
In either of the readings appointed from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear of the inclusion of others in this familial fellowship. The passage from the 10th chapter records the conversion of the first Gentile Christians, when they received the gift of the Holy Spirit through faith and were “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” The verses from chapter 11 record the growth of the church in Antioch, when “a great number that believed turned to the Lord.” Their response to God ‘s love was so complete, it was visible to others.
God’s love is poured out for the salvation of the world in the death, burial and resurrection of his only begotten Son. In our joyful celebration that “Christ is risen,” we are invited to respond to that love in love and with love for one another. Such love by its very nature will continually draw others into its embrace, forming and strengthening the fellowship of God’s children and bearing faithful witness to our blessed Lord.
Look it Up
Read the text of Hymn 458 in The Hymnal 1982, considering how this may relate to “a new song” to the Lord that both Psalm 33 and 98 encourage us to sing.
Think About It
How is love necessary for the development of faith, and how is faith necessary for a true response of love?