The beloved disciple reclining next to the heart of Jesus is the icon of our relationship with God. From this image we begin to grasp the nearness of God to us, the intimacy he shares with us, and the extent in which God cares for us. As foundational as this belief may be, however, if you are anything like me, you need constant reminders, as apparently the early Christian communities did as well. There is this reminder in the first epistle of John: “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.”
We need reminders because beloved as we are, this does not exempt us from experiencing darkness –betrayal, loss, grief, death. We face these things every day, we get distracted by the darkness, so we need reminded of the light, of God’s great love for us. We need reminded that God is taking care of us. These reminders are not just so we will accept the testimony of our friends, the Scriptures, or the preacher, important as that may be, but so that we will recall the ways we have already experienced God’s great care for us. So that we will recall, for example, from what we have already been saved. By that I mean there have been things in your life that have been dark and difficult, and you’ve come through it, given the grace to face it, head on, in the light, and you are probably stronger and wiser for it. And in hindsight you can probably see God’s care for you all through it. So remember, from what have you already been saved.
We give each other these reminders because recalling that God cares for us helps us to face today’s challenges. This is because our faith is both a belief and a power. When we believe that God is taking care of us, we are given the power to face our fears and challenges, confident that we will be given what we need, as we were in the past. This is what enabled the beloved disciple to take his stand with Mary at the cross of Jesus and not hide from the suffering of Christ. It is why the beloved disciple was the first to comprehend the resurrection of Jesus, and to recognize the risen Lord when he appeared to the disciples. The beloved disciple remembered his experience with the lord, he remembered the intimacy he shared and he knew how much Jesus cared for him. This remembrance enabled him to remain faithful to Jesus’ call to “remain until I come”, that is to abide – to stick it out. Knowing that come what may, Jesus is taking care of him. We too can claim confidence by remembering. Remembering that because God always was taking care of us, God is taking care of us, and though darkness will come again, so the God of light will be with us all evermore. Amen.
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