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JN 15: 9-17
6th Sunday of Easter
(JN 16: 16-24 is an alternative in the Australian Lectionary.)

As the branches that remain on the vine represent stickability, so does that persistent faithfulness that is characteristic of Jesus' love. Which in turn is characteristic of God's love, for Jesus & for us.

Though it's not a popular idea today, remaining in, sticking in & at love (i.e. true love at every level of being) is what makes life tick the way God means it to. How about 'Stick & Tick' as a slogan for our renewal?! Jesus makes it clear that love (sticking) goes hand in hand with keeping God's commands (ticking). For many years now, 'commandments' have had a bad press. So, we cut & paste them to size. Cut them down to our size, rather than stretching to 'reach' God's size! To do that is to cut life down to a lesser size, too. To claim that only Jesus' new commandment of love counts these days is to seriously misunderstand & underestimate the way the totality of God's law undergirds life.

To over-simplify, the way Jesus loves us is 'totally'. That's how he longs for us to love God & one another. Try cutting the totality of God's commandment(s) down to our size, & by definition we lessen the totality of God's love expressed in & through them for us & through us for each other.

Jesus, in JN's words, places agape & philos side by side. There's a huge slice of Gospel in this insight. It stands at the heart of any church regeneration. That we should be friends of Jesus because we love him & one another. Not church members, Anglicans, parishioners, etc., none of these before our being riends of Jesus! And not friends if not lovers! Can we recognize here Jesus' recipe not for church renewal, but, dare I say, church replacement?

If we are among those who slave at being one of Jesus' friends, slavery is O -U- T, OUT! We can't be a slave & a friend at the same time!

One of the ways I've often slaved - in vain - at being Jesus' friend, is by seeking to take the initiative & doing for God what I want to do. Here, in emphasising that it is he who chooses me rather than the other way around, Jesus makes it clear that his friends are those who respond to God's initiative. Life in God is one new 'In the beginning, God.....' after another.