Faith Matters: love.

Contributing Writer Rev. Dr. Scott D. Hannon St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY
Contributing Writer Rev. Dr. Scott D. Hannon St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY

They’ll know we are Christians by our love. That’s what Jesus said. He told his friends that the night before he passed. I mean, he told his friends that the night before he was killed. Before he was betrayed, before he was abandoned, before he was denied, before he was shamed, scorned, flogged, beat, mocked, and nailed to a tree, he told his people… they’ll know you’re with me – they’ll know you are mine – when you love each other.

He didn’t say they’ll know you’re mine if you fight for me.

He didn’t say they’ll know you’re mine if you despise and hate “them.”

He didn’t say they’ll know you’re mine if you pray a certain way, wear a cross around your neck, dress nice, or even go to church on Sunday.

And he sure as hell didn’t say they’ll know you’re mine just because you say so.

He said, “They’ll know you are mine, if you love.”

Over the past year a great deal of the things that we might think “make us Christian” have been taken away from us. We can’t go to church (at least not the way we want to). We aren’t singing hymns. We don’t hold hands or pass the peace or hug friends or volunteer the way we were accustomed. We celebrate the eucharist remotely and we worship from home (maybe even in our pajamas). We can’t show off our crosses or wear our Sunday best to the grocery store after worship. It makes you wonder: how in the world are people supposed to know we’re Christian??? With all of that taken away, how will they know that we’re with Him?

I suppose that’s where the lesson that Jesus left with his disciples on his last night is truly good news. They won’t know we’re Christian by all of those things that have been taken away. They’ll know we are Christian by our love.

And to be clear, that cannot be taken from us. No virus, no governing authority, no policy, and certainly no regulation can stop that. Nothing can get in the way of us sharing love. Nothing, that is, except us. Our choices. Our sin. Our brokenness. Our willingness to try to outwit Jesus and follow the ways of the world.

At the time of this writing the CDC and local health officials are warning of a fourth “wave” of the coronavirus pandemic. Meaning, we’re not out of the tunnel yet. While we may feel an urgency and a hunger to get back to normal, we remain a church caught up in a global pandemic. Many of the things that we sometimes think “make us Christian” will remain on hold or be introduced slowly.

In the meantime, we have another way and the only way to show the world we’re with Him… we can love. Moreover, we can love the way Jesus loved us – with service, patience, compassion, selflessness, and friendship. By this they will know we are his disciples.

In the Way,

PSDH

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

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Pastor Scott Hannon
Pastor Scott serves the people of St. John by helping the congregation welcome everyone, care for one another, and grow in the joy of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Pastor Scott earned his bachelor’s degree at the University at Buffalo and went to seminary at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis in preaching from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Pastor Scott and his wife, Kate, live in Bowmansville, NY with their children Molly, Delaney, and John Scott. Scott and Kate love Western New York for many reasons, not the least of which are the changing seasons, wonderful people, and of course the Buffalo Bills. Pastor Scott’s ministry priorities are worship, preaching and teaching. Scott’s hobbies are guitar, golf, and reading. To read some of Scott’s musings visit his blog Way-ward at www.psdh.org.