Sunday, May 16, 2021

Agape Namaste

Easter 6 Year B

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

Easter 7 Year B

John 17:6-19

Jesus prayed for his disciples, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”

Please excuse my absence last week. To make it up this week I have presented last week’s and this week’s Gospels together.  Both are from the Gospel of John.  Historically, “The congregation [that wrote John] was engaged in the task of defining themselves with regard to other Christians, the Jews, and the world at large. There are signals that the church has felt forced into adopting a defensive and competitive posture. Still, they are committed to being a community of love in an environment where they are hated and persecuted by others.”*  The similarities to the present day is noticeable.  We are still defensive, competitive, hateful, and persecuted, yet ever striving for love.

The first Gospel, from Chapter 15, focuses on Agape Love.  From Wikipedia “Agape (Ancient Greek ἀγάπη, agapē) is a Greco-Christian term referring to unconditional love, "the highest form of love, charity" and "the love of God for man and of man for God".”  In John’s timeline this chapter falls during the Last Supper. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This is a foreshadowing of events to come, the Crucifixion of Jesus, the ultimate gift of love Jesus gives to us all. Yet even this does not end our evil ways.

The second Gospel is Jesus’ final prayer for his disciples.  In this Gospel it is the last time he addresses the whole group of disciples.  Jesus draws parallels between his connection to God the Father, Jesus and the disciples, and the disciples and all the people of the world. Jesus even says, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine.” The idea of agape love toward others comes shining through in these connections.  In my love of the Venn diagram I visualize this as circles all overlapping in various ways, yet all contained within one circle as Jesus’ view of a connected loving world.  No matter our religion, Jesus loves us.  His example during his life of love for the sick, diseased, male and female, prostitute, eunuch, Samaritan, Gentile, Roman, and Jew show us he does not separate people on the basis of race, sex, nationality, or even religion. Jesus loves us all. If his prayer is to be followed then we are not to be “taken out of the world” but to stay in the world, spreading and following Jesus’ example of agape love.  But somewhere along the way we as individuals always lose sight of this. We even judge and separate ourselves within Christianity.  

In my work as a yoga therapist, I don’t judge anyone on the basis of anything, and that is hard as I tend to be a judgmental person.  But when I am working all of that goes away.  You are a person worthy of my help no matter what you bring into the session.  I leave my prejudices at the door.  I am doing my part “to protect them from the evil one” by bring health and healing through yoga.

Like most people though, I fight my own prejudices outside of work.  The church I have chosen is one of the most welcoming of Christian denominations. I struggle with those that do not fully welcome all.  I struggle even with my own denomination not welcoming non-Christians to the table, although we don’t ask either (*wink wink*). I struggle with inhuman treatment of animals too. But I had to give up vegetarianism for health reasons. We live in a world where survival of the fittest is the mantra. But what if we all raised each other up and treated all with dignity?  What if we all really viewed ourselves as part of one world circle of unity rather than a bunch of sometimes overlapping circles of segregation? I don’t have any answers, but I try to lead with love. Namaste - the good in me bows and honors to good in you.

*Introducing the New Testament by Mark Allan Powell P176


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