Lectionary Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B
May 10, 2015
You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. John 15:16-17
Have you ever heard the term “Frozen Chosen”? According to www.dictionaryofchristianese.com, there are four meanings, including “Christians who are more reserved in their religious life” and “Christians who show very little joy or emotion in their religious life.” Neither description is particularly delightful or helpful, and this is certainly not what Jesus had in mind when he issued these marching orders to his followers.
Yes, we followers of Jesus are chosen, but we are definitely not meant to be frozen–not in our outlook, or our approach to mission and ministry, or our love and care for neighbor. We aren’t supposed to be locked away in our buildings like last summer’s garden harvest developing freezer burn in the basement deep freeze. No, we’re supposed to be out in the world bearing fruit. We’re supposed to be joyous and full of life and love.
Yet we worry. We fear. We fret. We fume. We blame the world. We decry culture, technology, and anything else that can serve as a handy scapegoat. We tend not to play well with other Christians, especially those whose congregations are more successful, happening, or hip than our own. “Sheep-stealers!” we hiss under our breath. Oh, and we can also act downright snarky, petty, and peculiar about who is in, who is out, and what sins or issues will cause us to draw a line in the theological sand.
Of course, not all faithful folk are like that, but we’re not perfect, not a one of us. And that’s a very good thing because this is not about us. It’s about God who loved us enough to show up in human skin and who tries to show us in word and deed what it means and looks like really to love and really live. It’s about being beloved–imperfections and all–as friends on equal footing instead of hired help relegated to the outskirts of relationship.
The catch is that not only are we supposed to obey the commandments we’ve been given but we’re also supposed to love one another as Jesus loves us. Gulp! That’s one tall order for an all-in, radically sacrificial, yet abundant and joyful life of abiding in God’s love. It’s an “all-in” proposition with the promise of real yields. The wonderful news is that we don’t do it alone. We are one with God through Jesus, able to ask in his name for whatever we need to bear this lasting fruit.
This calls for Chosen who are anything but frozen. The love of God can warm the coldest heart and give life to the weary and worn. So dear chosen friends, dear colleagues in ministry, there are several questions that we can prayerfully ponder. What might it look like to melt the heavy hearts of those who can’t seem to get unstuck, those who are fearful, those who lack joy and confidence, and those who are worried and worn? What new song might we sing together as we are sent forth from worship to bear that lasting fruit?
Photos: James Trosh, oddities, and Matt Dempsey, Creative Commons. Thanks!