Thank you for your prayers and partnership as we start this new school year. It is so good to be together again!
As I sat down to reflect on our theme, “one another,” I was struck by the required reciprocal action included in this phrase. In other words, it’s not just something I do for you or something you do for me; it has to go both ways or it’s not “one another.” In Spanish, there is a word “intercambio” which can refer to this mutually beneficial partnership to learn language. If I desire to improve my Spanish, I might find a native Spanish speaker who also desires to learn or practice English. We spend half our time speaking English and the other half speaking Spanish. It is not an “intercambio” unless we are both supporting each other and helping the other grow. It doesn’t mean that we have equal abilities or that every time we get together, we each support one another equally, but what is required is that each one of us has the other’s interests in mind. It strikes me that this concept of “one another” is the root of God’s call for us and the biblical vision of what it means to live in Christian community.
Our theme verse, John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Love is referred to four times and the phrase “love one another” is mentioned three times.
Can we agree that love is a big deal? In fact, when Jesus is asked which commandment is the greatest, He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus would not reduce his two biggest commands, which are about love, to a feeling. When Jesus talks about love, there is a call to action. This year in chapel and in our classrooms, we’ll discuss ways we can show love to one another through our actions. I want to briefly challenge all of us to consider one way that we can show this reciprocal love. It’s no secret that we are living in times where many communities are divided and it seems that we disagree about a lot of things. I’m not so sure that disagreeing is so new, but the way we disagree seems so volatile right now. It seems that we think that if we just scream louder, or type more comments on social media, perhaps in all capitals or with articles attached, that we will win and convince others that we are right. Let’s be clear that the disagreement and the discussion that we have around our disagreements is OK, even good, but what can we do to show this reciprocal love that we’re called to as followers of Christ, even in the midst of our disagreements?
What if when we’re tempted to scream, we seek to understand? Proverbs 18:2 says, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
What if when we have a disagreement or conflict, rather than gossiping or posting on social media, we use the principle found in Matthew 18 and we first go to our sister and brother to work on our issue?
What if we go out of our way to make those who disagree with us feel welcomed and affirmed. Rather than shaming someone, or making a joke, we build a bridge and show them kindness. One of the most famous verses about love, 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
GRCHS, as we disagree this year, let’s not dishonor others or be self-seeking or easily angered. Let’s be patient and kind. Let’s be a Christian community that shows this reciprocal love for one another through our actions.
I’m thankful for each one of you and I am looking forward to a great year!