Dear Siblings in Christ:
I’ve just finished reading this week’s lectionary reading from John and am drawn towards 14:15.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
The gift and challenge of this pandemic season is that, sometimes, it’s like a mirror I’m staring into. I’m not talking about a quick glance to see if everything’s in place. I’m talking about looking at every wrinkle or spot. I’m talking about noticing the differences between the memory of my face and the face that’s in front of me and what that face says about me. It’s that observation of the room that surrounds me; craning my neck just a bit to see more than is immediately apparent. This pandemic season has stripped more away than it has covered up and I’m remembering parts of me that I’d long ago suppressed and forgotten. I’m finding those ways I could be better, those ways I’m better than I thought, and finding things about me previously unexamined. Like I said, gifts and challenges…
As I read this week’s text from John, the statement quoted above and the commentary that follows is getting woven into this introspection. John is not my favorite of the Gospels. There is a straight-backed, pure, consistency to it that is far from the other messy, slightly-improvised, in-the-moment Gospels. The “if, then” nature of it is a bit too clean and clear. But, as I remember my high-school Sunday teacher saying with a hunch and a smile, “Sometimes we read the Bible. Sometimes the Bible reads us.” Yep.
I experience imagining as a form of prayer sometimes so, this morning, I tried setting aside that grain of salt I bring with me when reading John and imagining Jesus sitting across from me. I’ve imagined Jesus sitting across from me and talking about the fact they love me and what they love about me; not what I hoped to hear but what I imagine I’d actually hear from Jesus. Then, I’ve imagined Jesus sitting across from me talking about those ways Jesus shows their love to me.
Then, after saying all this stuff, I’ve imagined Jesus falling silent. And waiting. And me realizing it’s my turn.
Rev. Mike Denton
Conference Minister of
The Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Church of Christ
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