Tuesday, Dec. 27, St. John:
On this Third Day of Christmas, some surprisingly difficult words come to the disciples, especially in John’s reading. If you are expecting the Christmas readings to be all “meek and mild” or lovey dovey, dream on.
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter whines a bit and says that he would lay down his life for Jesus. Before the rooster crows, we learn that Peter will deny Jesus three times.
The command is also to love one another. This all comes about in the midst of future denials and betrayals. A new standard of love emerges.
Think about the these disciples for a minute – not exactly the cream of the crop. Many would have laughed at the stupidity of choosing a bunch of fisherman for the task of changing the face of Judaism or, much yet, founding a new religion and spreading it around the world. God comes to earth and is denied by his own people. And the fisherman around him aren’t much better. One betrays him. Another denies him at his most vulnerable.
And yet…this band of disciples manage to spread Christianity around the world, with a little help from Constantine and others. It is amazing what the human spirit can do when it puts its mind to something. This is where the Christmas gift within our readings is illuminated.
The message is one of LOVE, which is an appropriate Christmas gift our readings deliver to us this day – the Feast Day of St. John. John spoke much about love, especially in his epistles. It is not just a message of love, but that God’s love extends even to those we thought were left out of the story – us!
The principles of this new religion are a little quirky – a little backward to those who don’t understand. Many don’t even believe they will last. After all, one of the main tenets is to turn the other cheek – to love your enemy. How long can we refrain from revenge, before it takes back over our lives? But our call is not to war with others, but to war with evil itself – to crush death and destruction, and sow seeds of love in this light, even if that means dying oneself.
So here we are! God-with-us has saved us from the tyranny of life! Merry Christmas! God is with us on this journey! And that, my friends, is part of the miraculous Christmas message for us – a message of incarnational grace and the journey of the Spirit – God with us.