Some of you might know that my family has had a slight change in living arrangement. And in the process of moving things, rearranging things, and reorganising things, we had to buy some furniture. While I do enjoy cleaning and reorganising (but not that big of a fan of throwing things away), I love putting together furniture. There’s just something about taking a bunch of parts, putting them together, and forming something new. I guess in a way it’s like playing with Lego.
Except, with some types of furniture, it isn’t. On the most part, unless you’re playing with a specific set or model, with Lego you can put pieces together in whatever order you want to make whatever you want. But with furniture, if we don’t follow the instructions carefully, we might end up with something not looking quite right, not as sturdy, or turn a 20-minute job into a 2-hour job.
But not all furniture is put together in the same way. Depending on the piece, you might be instructed to put the doors together first, or maybe the legs, or maybe even the outside before the inside. No matter how many different pieces you’ve put together in the past, it’s always a good idea to look at the instructions because there might always be something new and unique to this particular piece.
However, the principle of it all is always the same: assemble furniture. If not just for the practicality of it, as furniture is better assembled and in your room than unassembled and in the box, but for the love of putting things together in the proper way, according to the proper instructions.
Those of you eagle-eyed folk might notice that these aren’t the regular texts for Reformation Sunday. And you’re right, they aren’t. Normally we get the same passage out of John every year, so this particular passage out of Year A never gets any love. So I thought we’d change it up this year as we very rarely ever get this passage (I personally have never preached on this text in my 15+ years of preaching almost every Sunday).
But I feel like these texts lend well to the themes that the Reformation bring anyway, around reforming how we see our faith, community, and relationship. See, on the most part, we’re taught to be legalistic. From a young age, we’re taught to follow rules, laws, and guidelines for life. And on the most part, we comply. There’s nothing wrong with that.
So it’s natural for us to transfer these rules and laws into our relationships and faith. We naturally think that we must do certain things and must not do others, in order to be successful in those areas. And so when Jesus tells us that the greatest commands are to love God and love neighbour and love self, we almost automatically think there is one way and one way only to do that.
But the thing is, we’re all different. We see the world different. We know love different.
So how we love one doesn’t mean we love another the same way. How one might see God’s love for them might not the same as how we see it for ourselves. How we express our obedience to this command can be different for each one of us and for each situation that we find ourselves in.
Does this make life harder? For sure. Does it make it worse? Not at all. For we’re called to be in relationship and to receive and give the love of God. It is how we’re wired, how we’re created, how we’re defined as God’s people in the world. Love is never easy, but it is always fulfilling.
And to me, that is the heart of the Reformation, that we love God and love neighbour as they know love, for a fuller and more complete community and faith, for the sake of a world saved by grace.
Thanks be to God! Have a great week, everyone!