Christ-Like Love and Compassion

June, 2009 Pastor’s Monthly Newsletter Article

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. St. John 15:12

I love summertime. I've always loved summertime. When I was young it meant sleeping late in the mornings, playing outside all day long, and in the long, cool summer evenings of Minnesota we were allowed to run around the neighborhood until the sun went down. These days it means not having to pack school lunches every morning, not having to be to school by a certain time each day, and the freedom to get out of town for some relaxed family time. There is a freedom to the summer months. Freedom to re-invent our schedules. Freedom to discover some new ways to spend our time. Freedom to re-evaluate the priorities of our lives.

This past month we celebrated Affirmation of Baptism with eleven young people at Saint Peter. They professed their faith, affirmed their baptism, and became adult members of our congregation. During the service, we focused on the words of St. John's 15th chapter. Just before his passion and death, Jesus commanded his followers to live lives of love: the kind of love that he had for them. When we think of the stories that the Gospel writers told about Jesus, we begin to see what his kind of love is all about. It has to do with selfless giving. It has to do with discerning what the greatest needs of a neighbor or a friend might be. It has to do with giving one's very best - even one's own life - in order to serve another who is in need.

"Love one another as I have loved you." What do these words have to say to a people who find themselves beginning another summer season? What do these words have to say to a people who have two or three months to establish some new personal habits before the fall arrives? There is no better time than summertime to build into our schedules a regular time to reach out and love others as Jesus loved us: graciously, compassionately and unconditionally.

Our teenagers model that for us each year. For a week or two in July, you'll find middle-schoolers and high-schoolers in Mexico or Arizona or Montana - even in Canada this year. They make these journeys to be involved in servant trips. During this time they have a chance to connect with youth and families from another culture, and to serve them in various ways.

But you don't have to travel half-way across the continent to be involved in serving the community. Covenant Cupboard is a food bank located a half mile from the church, and they are looking for volunteers every Friday. Habitat for Humanity is in the business of creating affordable housing for people on the margins, and there are four opportunities to be part of a build this summer. Lutheran Family Services would love to have your support with refugee resettlement. A number of Saint Peter members are now serving as "Court Appointed Special Advocates" - offering support to youth who are in Colorado's foster care system.

Take time this summer to build a new pattern into your schedules. These summer months provide a great opportunity to respond to Jesus' command.