Living a Holy Adventure – Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 3, 2015

The Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 8:26-40
Psalm 22:35-41
I John 4:7-21
John 15:1-8

Today’s scriptures are mystical, energetic, and empowering. Angels inspire and divine energy flows, giving life to all creation and fruitfulness to persons of faith.

Revelation is unbounded and democratic. The Pentecost spirit is unconstrained and flows to all people. An angel challenges Philip to hit the road. Not knowing exactly what’s in store, Philip nevertheless follows the angel’s guidance and comes upon an Ethiopian yearning to understand God’s good news. Philip’s evangelistic approach is guided by the Ethiopian’s questions: he does not harangue but listens; he has no ready-made answers but responds to the Ethiopian’s spiritual needs. He lets his conversation partner lead the way. He even breaks the color and sexual barrier by baptizing the Ethiopian, also a eunuch, at his request. God’s revelation welcomes all people and salvation is for Africa as well as Judea. Today’s readings open us to issues of race and sexuality, since the Ethiopian is marginalized racially and sexually according to traditional interpretations of Jewish law.

The passage from Psalm 22 continues the theme of universal revelation. Salvation and guidance is made available to all creation. God’s sovereignty extends beyond Israel to the whole Earth. God’s sovereignty is made perfect in loving and inclusive relationships.

Theologian Thomas Oord asks us whether love or power is the primary defining characteristic for God. It is clear that I John sees love as God’s very nature. Love is not weak, but embraces all creation, seeking salvation for all. God’s love powerfully transforms lives and sets us on the path of wholeness. God’s love flows to and through us, and as we love, we share in God’s loving and healing power. Those who are loved must let love flow through to themselves to the vulnerable and poor.

Love banishes fear. Yet, we are often fearful and out of our fear turn our backs on one another. Love invites us to live in love or as I John says to “abide in love.” If love is the beginning and end of life, the creative force in the universe, then ultimately we have nothing to fear. God’s over-flowing, ever-flowing, and sacrificial love gives us strength to sacrifice and love one another even when it is challenging and difficult.

John 15 speaks of God as the vine and us as the branches. The branches survive and thrive because they are connected to the vine. When we are connected with the vine, we flourish. Disconnected we wither and die spiritually. The unfruitful branches are removed and this appears to be warning, if not a threat. Pruning may be necessary. We may need to change our pathways to be more attentive to the healing and loving energy flowing through us. We have to let go of spiritual cumber to allow the fullness of divine energy to flow in and through us.

John 15 invites us to consider how we stay connected to the vine. It opens us to practices of spiritual horticulture. These practices include intentional abiding in God by prayerful opening to divine energy, cutting out what is inessential or harmful to us, and seeing our intimate connection with the other branches of the vine. Although the vine is the source of life and energy, the branches are not passive; they must participate in their fruitfulness and support the fruitfulness of the other branches. There is an intimate interdependence between God and us: while God’s existence doesn’t depend on our fruitfulness, our bearing fruit enhances God’s life and mission in the world. In tending the branches – our own branch and others – we share in God’s healing presence in the world and advance God’s vision in our time.

Love abounds, energy abounds, life abounds, ready to give us more than we can ask or imagine.

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  • Rust Cohle

    Love banishes fear? Then one must simply banish the Jesus character, monger of fear, hatred, and violence.

    Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.

    John 12:25 anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life

    Matthew 10:28 Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Luke 12:5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

    Matthew 10:34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword