Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 28 April 2013
Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145:8-13; Revelation 21:1-5a; John 13:31-33a, 34-35
Easter is such a great mystery that we can’t keep it to one Sunday of the year or even to one week – it spills over into a whole season. On this, the fifth Sunday of Easter, we are reminded of the kind of kingdom that we seek, and long for, and strive to live into as the people of God, the kind of world that the death and resurrection of Jesus ultimately makes possible.
It isn’t how orthodox our beliefs are, or how much we accomplish, or how we name ourselves that ultimately marks us as followers of Jesus – it is the degree to which we love each other with the radical self-giving love that Jesus modeled. When people see and experience that love, however imperfectly we incarnate it, they are touched by the divine. They glimpse the glory of God and God’s Kingdom comes. That is why the message that Paul and Barnabas preached is called the ‘good news’ – it is the declaration of God’s scandalously inclusive love, a love which embraces the outsiders and brings them in.
Psalm 145, a hymn in praise of the God of love whose kingdom comes, describes God in these terms: gracious; merciful; slow to anger; exceedingly kind; good to all; compassionate toward the whole world and all its inhabitants. That is what the King is like, so just imagine the Kingdom.
In the vision of the glorious future found in the reading from Revelation, this God is at home among humanity. The old order built upon exclusion and selfish power will have passed away, and everything will have been made new. In the light of that eagerly anticipated future, how much of what we are doing now will be swept away with the old and how much will be gathered up and find its completion in the new? It will come down to love.