United Church of Christ

2628 Fillmore Street, Philadelphia, PA  19137
"A Warm, Welcoming Church in the Heart of Bridesburg"

Pastor's Page

Dear Friends -

“ “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
I John 4:7-12, 16b-21

The tomb is empty! The Lord is risen! Where do we go from here?

The author of the passage above, which we will read on April 29, would answer our question in two ways. First, we are to confess that Jesus is the Son of God. And secondly, we are to “believe the love that God has for us” – a love God demonstrated by sending Jesus – and to act on that love by showing love to others. The two are inseparable. Our love for others is what makes our talk of resurrection believable. Conversely, our lack of love for others makes our talk of resurrection unbelievable – which may in part explain why so many churches are empty. If others cannot see love in our actions, as far as they are concerned, Jesus might just as well still be in the tomb. If others cannot feel our love, they will not hear anything we may have to say; as Emerson wrote, “your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” If we “abide in love”, then love is the default setting in our lives.

The passage makes an interesting connection between love and fear: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.” While the author is speaking about fear of punishment from God, these words are also true in our relationship with other people. As children, we may have loved our parents and yet at the same time feared their anger when we messed up. But as adults, we cannot fully love someone whom we fear, and we will not fear someone we truly love.

After the crucifixion, the disciples met behind locked doors, for fear of the religious authorities. According to John’s gospel (John 20:19-31), it was not until after Jesus appeared to the disciples – twice! – that the disciples left their locked room.

The tomb could not hold Jesus. The locked room ultimately could not hold the disciples. Jesus calls us out of the tombs and locked rooms created by our fears, and into the warm light of His love. While the celebration of Easter is behind us, the work of Easter – abiding in love – never ends. Love is the gift of the resurrection to us. Love is what will make the resurrection real to our neighbors.

See you in church!

Pastor Dave

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