Pr. Rodriguez Preaches at St. James This Morning, Sermon for Fifth Sunday of Easter

Pastor Sergio Rodriguez, Sermon from St. James Lutheran Church on the Fifth Sunday of Easter
God’s love in us; always timely, leading, building us up. John 13.34b. 5th Easter 1
“Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another (John 13:34b).”

Grace to you and peace from God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia! I want to express my gratitude to Mr. Robert Rivera, Pastor Jairo, and you all for the gift of presiding at today’s worship. Mr. Rivera and Pastor Jairo have shown me truly the meaning of Jesus’ new commandment to love as he has loved; be it at the dinner table, phone calls, driving me around the neighbors of Houston. Above all, they have made known to me the great love that is constantly expressed through you all and the Family Life Center. This kind of love is always timely, never worn out; always persistent, not buckling under pressure; always renewing, not reneging on Christ’s command to help the least of these. He urges us, his disciples, and friends, to see that our love is not simply our own; its source is God; its fount is Christ; its streams flow down from the Spirit.

Our present time needs this eternally new commandment to love as Christ loved. As John the Elder says, “God is love and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them (1 Jn 4:16b).” Due to partisan politics, people have absolved themselves from seeing the people around them, people who disagree with them or look/speak differently, as worthy of love. With the recent leaks from the supreme court, we shall certainly find no less than our share of people that we might treat as Judas incarnate, rules of engagement rather than the way of love. How then ought we love in face of such absolution? My sermon this morning, “God’s Love in us; always timely, always leading, always building up,” provides a way for us to think of Christ’s love as present with us and preparing us to receive our neighbors with grace. I want us to focus on John, chapter 13, verse 34 when Jesus says, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

God’s love is in us as Christ is in us.

There was much feasting on love on the night when Jesus was betrayed. Jesus commanded his disciples to love as he is love precisely in the spirit of love. From the moment he called Peter, Andrew, Nathanael, and the disciples, he loved them and would love them to the very end of his life. That night was no different in terms of the intensity of love; it was in terms of the kind of love Jesus made known to his disciples. He washed their feet. Imagine the world Jesus lived in. Only servants/slaves would wash people’s dirty feet. This was a lowly position and yet one that welcomes people into fellowship, into a company of friends. We have similar ways of welcoming family and friends at home for a cookout or when we welcome folks who are new to the country and need some orientation around the customs of the city.

Jesus did not shy away from becoming a servant but gave his disciples the gift of love that needs to be shared with the world. He washed their feet. Jesus makes this gift clear to us when he says, “Just as I have loved you.” Here is our first point. God’s love in us. This love is that of Jesus when he welcomes us, serves us, and washes us with his life-giving love. God demonstrates this love for us in Jesus’ death and resurrection. You know the famous verse: “For God so loved that world that he gave his only son.” This love of God for us, is a love that not only takes upon our sins and failures but also the very struggle of our lives. “Just as I have loved you,” makes sense in the light of the crucifixion as a reminder that we have a God who loves us precisely when we are rock bottom, or exhausted, or worn out with life. How do you need Jesus to love you today? Jesus does not give us a burdensome command to imitate him but rather invites us to understand his love as always timely, always leading, always building us up in love.

This love welcomes us so that we may welcome others. This love is timely in our age of hyper-partisanship. There is no absolution from loving our neighbor. There is only love; a love that is in us. This love is always leading us to pray and help others as how they need to be helped. This love is not on our own. Rather, we have Jesus with us. The Jesus who prayed that, “the love with which God has loved him, may be in us and Jesus may be in us (Jn 17:26), ” is the same who builds us up together in love. St. Augustine said it best: “Not because we had him, but in order that we might have him and that he may lead us on … to where God is all in all.” Let us then be lead by love. Let us be spurned on to be Christ to others. Let us abide in God as God lives in us.

“En esto conocerán todos que son Mis discípulos, si se tienen amor los unos a los otros (Juan 13:35).”

Gracia y paz de nuestro Dios, Padre, + Hijo y Espíritu Santo sea siempre con ustedes. Amen.

Enfrentamos una situación difícil en actualidad. Nuestros gastos y mandados cuestan mas que el ano pasado. El bolsillo esta mas ligero pero los deberes en familia siguen. ¿Como podemos amar a nuestro prójimo en sus necesidades cuando nosotros también estamos en la misma situación? Sabemos que el amor consiste en acción, y no solamente en nuestros sentimientos. Que “Dios es amor, y el que permanece en amor permanece en Dios y Dios permanece en él (Jn 4:16b),” y causa de eso, debemos estar consiente de la presencia de Dios en todo lo que hacemos. Mi mensaje, “Dios de Amor, renuévanos, dirígenos, establézcanos en ti,” es sobre el amor de Dios como una presencia divina que nos transforma para compartir y convivir en nuestra situación tal como es. Me

voy a enforcar en las palabras de Jesús del evangelio de esta mañana cuando dijo, “que como Yo los he amado, así también se amen los unos a los otros.”

Estuve en Galveston con la Pastora Adriana, Rachel, y el Pastor Gabriel para el retiro de mujeres y en el ultimo día del retiro vi el tipo de amor que he hablado con ustedes. Cuando estábamos cantado la canción sumérgeme, unas personas empezaron a llorar. Estaban agobiadas de tanto cansancio sobre sus maridos, hijos, los deberes del hogar, trabajo, la falta de descansar estando preocupado de los ingresos y gastos de la familia. Íbamos a seguir con el credo pero decidimos a parar.