When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
– John 13:31-35 (NRSV)
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As I have loved you…
Creating all things for your good that you might live in my blessing.
Covering your sins and giving you a way to come into my presence, though sinful and separated from me.
Washing the land clean through the flood and giving you a chance to start again.
Graciously choosing an unlikely idolator to be the father of your faith, blessing him and making him a blessing.
Keeping my promises to your ancestors, though they were weak and deeply flawed.
Calling you out of Egypt, redeeming you by power and the blood of sacrifice.
Keeping you in the wilderness, though you kicked and complained.
Offering to make you a kingdom of priests, and when you hesitated and went astray, providing a Law and priesthood for you.
Leading you to the land I promised your fathers, though you were faithless and stiff-necked.
Keeping you through many dark days of chaos, when you had no leader to unify you in Me.
Providing you a king after my own heart and promising an eternal throne to his Heir.
Sending my prophets, time and time and time again, to turn you back to Me, when you and your kings went astray.
Protecting you in exile, where you learned to treasure my words and put hope in the future I promised.
Coming to you in ultimate humility and weakness, the firstborn Babe of an unwed mother, announced to the world by lowly shepherds.
Living in obscurity for years until the time was right.
Publicly announcing the arrival of God’s promised Kingdom, and proving it through words and acts that broke in upon the world from the age to come.
Bringing you to this night, this occasion, when we gather at table around wine and bread.
Washing your feet, taking the place of your servant, loving you to the end.
Announcing to you that my greatest act of love is at hand, when the glory of God will be revealed in a fashion hardly to be believed.
Promising you that the darkness of that day and the emptiness of Holy Saturday do not mean the end of the Story, but the beginning of its fulfillment.
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If you can begin to comprehend the love this Story tells, take it deep into your hearts.
Let it swell and burst the bounds of thought, imagination, and feeling.
Pour it out on one another, your neighbors, your enemies — the world.
As I have loved you.