On Maundy Thursday, we read from the Gospel of John, this year (Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary). In particular, we read John 13:34-35,
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.
Similarly, in Matthew 22:36-40 we read,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
The first of the core values we named as we gathered in September of 2013 is love. Jesus teaches us that love is what it is all about, “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” He never promises that love will be easy, but he tells us we need to love one another. This means even people that we disagree with, people that don’t think like us, don’t talk like us, don’t look like us, just plain don’t like us, people who challenge us, people who scare us, and even people we don’t like. This core value is also at the heart of the legacy of social justice we inherit from the United Church of Christ. God calls us to take care of the hungry, the poor, the hurting, the sick, the wounded, the persecuted, the disenfranchised, the incarcerated, the invisible,… Just like he did. Of course, he set a high bar, asking us to love “as I have loved you.” This is a hard one to live up to, and we’re not always successful at it, but it is one of the things that we have identified as key to who we are as Grace United Church of Christ.