Tuesday, May 16, 2006

buddy christ?

Our scripture texts for this weekend are:
John 15:9-17 and Acts 10:44-48.

In John's Gospel, Jesus redefines his relationship to the discipes. He gives them a commandment, and then invites them to relate to each other and to him differently:
"'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...'" )John 15:12-15a)

My question is: have you had friendships that have lived into what you think Jesus is talking about?

In the irreverant movie, "Dogma," the Catholic church unveils a new campaign with a new Jesus-hero: buddy Christ. Part of me likes this image. It reminds me that Jesus is my friend. But I certainly wouldn't want to reduce Jesus' love to cheap sentimentality or commercialism.

So my second question is: how do you describe "friendship" without sounding cheezy?


Bruce Baraw said...

I'm reminded of a word Molly used in her Water's Edge message about a month or so ago: Abide. A friend is one with whom you can simply abide, with no expectations (given or received). One who accepts you as you are, imperfections and all.

karen said...

There is a beautiful contemporary Catholic hymn that is set to this gospel passage (and last week's). The verses come almost directly from scripture with a reference to the vine/branches, servant/friend, greatest love/lay down life and the refrain is this:

We have been told.
We've seen His face,
And heard his voice,
Alive in our hearts.

Live in my love,
with all your heart
As the Father has loved me,
So I have loved you.

One of the many beauties to me of this example is that this transformational relationship Molly writes about extended even to Judas. That's the power of this love. It's available to all. It's a possibility for us all.

If we feel that love alive in our hearts and attempt to extend it to everyone -- as Bruce says, without expectations, that's one way of living this message.

In friendship, I have seen self-sacrifice (not to death but certainly to the point of personal expense) and I have made similar sacrifices. But these times are rare, and that's probably a good thing. It's not that we should always lay down our lives but that we should live in love accepting the possibility of self-sacrifice but also not overlooking the promise of bearing abundant fruit.

The promise of keeping God's commandment to love is that we will abide in God's love. (John 15:10)It's a nice circle: God loves us, we love one another, we abide in God's love.

I'm not sure I succeeded in the challenge to respond without being cheezy, but these are my thoughts.

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