Acts 10:44-48, Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6, John 15:9-17
- "even on the Gentiles" - this is the key phrase here. This is a second-Pentecost experience of sorts, and the focus is on the receiving of the spirit by those who are outside the Jewish faith. This had been a stumbling block for Peter - he had been mostly in mission to the Jews. God is always expanding our sense of who belongs, and who is our neighbor, and who is our brother and sister.
- "Can anyone withhold?" How often do we try to withhold others from receiving what God would give to them? We like to decide who gets grace and mercy and love and acceptance, and even membership into our communities of faith. We take dangerous steps in so doing, taking God's role instead of our own. Can we withhold what the Holy Spirit would give?
- Oof - watch out - there's "[God's] holy arm!" I just don't get this image - it's like "macho man" warrior-God imagery. Doesn't do much for me.
- "Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy." Great imagery. How would you create this image?
- This is a psalm of joy and thankfulness for God's action in someone's life, in the life of a whole people. How do you celebrate as an individual? As a community? Do we celebrate as nations? A world? How do we express our joy in God? Through worship? Action?
- "loves the parent loves the child." That's interesting logic from John - Love God, love Christ. Love God, love humans - we're God's children too, right?
- loving God = obeying God's commandments. That's the connection John makes. So, what does the way you choose to obey God's commandments say about how you love God? Looking at it from this direction, I'm afraid sometimes it would look like I don't love God nearly as much as I claim!
- "[God's] commandments are not burdensome." We don't act like this, do we. We act as though we are martyrs when we adhere to God's commands.
- Again, as last week, 'abide' is from the Greek meno^, which means literally "to stay at home, to stay where one is, to not stir." It has the sense of "lasting" or "remaining." We are 'at home' in God's love, not wanting to stir from that place. And God is at home in us, if we let God.
- "to lay down one's life for one's friend." What a gift indeed. Perhaps someday we'll find ourselves in a literal situation of needing to lay down our life. But if not, in what metaphoric ways are we called to lay down our lives for our friends?
- Jesus calls the disciples friends - what an honor!
- "love one another" - in this intimate scene, Jesus so wants his disciples to love one another. In your community of faith, do you, the disciples of Jesus, love one another, as friends? True friends?