In many seminary programs, the path to being ordained includes a one-year internship at a church. My home church in Vermilion has hosted many interns. My Junior year our "vicar" was Rob. He is now a pastor at a church in northern Michigan. After reading his fb status, which asked if anyone would like to be included in his weekly meditations I immediately responded, "please". Pastor, then vicar, Rob helped me in great ways with my faith and growth journey. I was quite lost and by listening and encouraging me to trust in the Grace and Faith, eventually I was breathing again. His weekly meditations are short, easy to read emails. This gives me no excuse not to read them through. This week he looked at John 15:13-17.
13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.
And you know, if I could pick one verse to share with someone, John 15:17 is it. As Rob said:
"One of the most interesting and dynamic concepts of our faith is to love the world, to love others, just where they are at. That means loving people for who they are at any given moment in their life. Sometimes this is easy, other times it is difficult. But it is possible. It becomes easier the more we reflect upon Christ's love for us, and how we have been chosen. We may not always want to love, but we are chosen to love.
Remember no matter how good or bad we are at this; God still loves us as we are....ALWAYS!"
I suppose this is where Mister Rogers got his line "people can like you just the way you are". It had been a long time since I'd watched Mister Rogers and over the Summer of 2007 I was flipping channels and stumbled upon him. It was towards the end of the show and he was talking to us (his viewers) and reminded us that people can like us just the way we are. I began crying. Summer 2007 had been difficult and I had forgotten this. God loves us just the way we are. It is our responsibility to do our best loving others. I do not know a single person who does not struggle with this. However, I would rather struggle than give in and just decide not to like someone.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "I do not know that man, I must get to know him better".
And someone else reminds us that every person you meet has a story that could break your heart. And while some may disagree, if you approach someone as if they did, you will find your self feeling kinder and truer than once before.
Love is the answer to the question at the heart of yours.