I have a wedding tonight for a wonderful young couple. Turns out she went to school with my nephew and her mom teaches with my niece. Those sorts of personal connections are a reminder of the connections which we all share without knowing it. Connections is one of the most important aspects of being church. The Gospel reading this couple chose is from John 15. The first line is simple, yet eloquent. "As the Father has loved Me so I have loved you. Abide in My love." (John 15:9)
The groom is a Navy Seal. His brother is a Marine. Several other Navy Seals are in the wedding party. They are young guys who have completed unimaginable training. They are the best of the best. They understand the concept of mission. When they know what to do, they do it. Sadly, we live in a world where human decision making and choices require that young men must train to kill. The tragic loss of young lives in war is a telling reminder that we have made a mess of this world.
There is some dissonance, standing in a church with warriors and reading about love. Yet, as Jesus continues to teach us (John 15:13) "No one has greater love than this, to lay down His life for His friends." Navy Seals and Marines have laid down their lives for us. This is a concrete act of love. In marriage, the man and woman lay down their lives for one another. If they have children, they will further lay down their lives. Every day. In ways that are not always dramatic and sometimes incredibly subtle. Love means "dying" over and over again each day.
The church loses sight of her mission too often. It is about love, but as Jesus reminds us, "If you keep my commandments you will abide in My love." IF you obey, then you love. As awesome as navy Seals are, once they stop obeying orders they become dangerous. As awesome as marriage is, once a couple seeks to exert their own will on one another the marriage dies. Jesus is the authority. He is also the model. Giving ourselves in service to our country can be modeling Jesus. Giving ourselves in love to our spouse and children can be modeling Jesus. All of us have people in our lives and jobs to do. If they are done under His authority then they can be love and obedience. We need to pause and be aware. What is our mission?