1 John 5:1-6
Dear fellow ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
grace and peace to you from the one in whose love we abide. Amen
In our gospel today
Jesus is saying good bye.
part of his last teaching
to his disciples before his death,
his parting words,
what he most wants the disciples
to take with them as they move into the new and strange territory
of life without Jesus in the way they’ve come to know him.
As he’s saying good bye
Jesus emphasizes his love,
what he’s taught the disciples
and he acknowledges a change in their relationship
and his hopes for their future.
Today we are recognizing our graduates,
all graduations mark a time of transition,
from a known way of life
to new relationships, expectations from those around us
and often a physical geographical move
and while these are exciting changes
they also mark a season of good-byes to the way life was
and so today we honor the excitement and the good-byes
and as we bless and send our graduates
we emphasize our love,
what we’ve taught them,
and we acknowledge a change in the relationship
and our hopes for their future.
Jesus has already been speaking for a while
before the start of our gospel reading,
this morning as we start to listen in on his farewell speech
we hear Jesus’ instruction for the disciples’
to abide in his love.
This week I was struck by the word ‘abide’.
Abide means to continue, to remain,
both in the physical sense of where one lives or dwells
but also in the sense of an attitude or relationship
that is not bound by a particular place,
it is something we live in wherever we go.
The love that Jesus has shared with his father
has been shared with the disciples by Jesus
and his hope is that this love continues to influence their lives.
Jesus telling the disciples to abide in his love
is reminding them
that though he may be physically absent from them
his love continues
and will even grow
as they share the love with one another
as Jesus has commanded them.
Jesus’ love is the foundation for all that has led up to this point
and will go with them into the future.
love is the foundation for all that has led up to this point.
If you remember nothing else from this day
or even your time in this community
remember this: we love you.
And our love goes with you into the future.
This is why we give our high school graduates blankets,
a physical piece of our love
that continues for you even if we are physically separated.
We’re following the lead of Jesus
who gave the disciples the Lord’s Supper,
a physical piece of Jesus’ love
in a swallow of bread and a sip of wine,
Jesus’ love continuing with us.
Jesus reminds the disciples of his love for them
and his hope that it continues
and then he reminds them of what he has taught them
to love one another as he has loved them.
This is the key to abiding in his love,
the putting into practice Jesus’ teaching,
and Jesus is a teacher who teaches by example as well as words,
even the part about loving so much that one lays down one’s life for one’s friends.
we have taught you what is important to us
now it is up to you to live out what we taught you,
we acknowledge that we have not been perfect examples
but we hope you will forgive us for that
and do your best to live in a way that makes us
and more importantly yourself
having reminded the disciples of his love for them
and what he has taught them,
then acknowledges that in this good-bye,
their relationship is changing,
he moves from calling his disciples servants
to calling them friends.
Jesus has shared everything that he’s heard from his father,
they know all that he knows
and that changes the dynamic of their relationship,
they are friends now.
But lest the disciples let this go to their heads
Jesus reminds them that he chose them,
they did not choose him.
He chose them
and now it’s time for them to go bear fruit,
to live out Jesus’ love in the world,
to share it and expand it,
and they are able to do this because of Jesus’ love for them.
we love you,
we’ve taught you,
and now we recognize that our relationship is changing,
particularly those of you graduating from high school.
You are now young adults,
and it is time for you to go bear fruit.
God has given each of you
particular gifts, talents and skills,
some you know about already
and some you have yet to discover.
God gave you these gifts, talents and skills
so that you in your own particular way
could share the love of God in which you abide,
with all those around you.
This might take the form of a job or occupation,
or the way you treat those you encounter.
Sometimes you will struggle,
and it might seem like an impossible task to bear fruit,
to love all you encounter
and these are the times when you remember
that regardless of how life unfolds,
God loves you,
and so do we. Amen