On April 29, 1945, American forces liberated the Dachau concentration camp where tens of thousands of Jews, Gypsies, and resistant Christians had perished at the hands of the Nazis. That same day, Adolph Hitler married Eva Braun and designated Admiral Karl Doenitz his successor in Germany’s shattered government.
Sunday April 29 marks 73 years since those dramatic events. Our scriptures to be read and preached from are in such marked contrast to any of those events. What happened then through the Allied nations was a victory of sorts for justice. Justice should be an expression of love, however. The Allied nations acted in justice such that love might be operative once again in a nation overcome by evil intent toward those in the minority, those perceived as “unacceptably different.”
In both the Gospel and Epistle of John the call to love as God has loved us is paramount for Christ followers. We know this but how difficult it is to sustain when our loyalties to other earthly kingdoms and desires take predominance! We need government, we need values and loyalties, but when they demonstrate attitudes the opposite of “loving neighbor and God” the path to destruction is likely to be taken.
To make love actual (and not merely romantic or when convenient to do) requires a community of the beloved PRACTICING week after week! And not just practicing but celebrating the examples and moments when we see and know that “God is love.”
Over time we might actually find that these practices, examples, and moments are as close as we will get to “Heaven on earth” or “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
John 15:9 has Jesus’ words: “As the Father loves me , so I also love you. Remain in my love.” And I John 4:8 says that “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”
These April and May Sundays of our Easter celebrations are continual reminders that God is still working within us to bring about the Kingdom of God “in our midst” and to have a “foretaste of glory.”
With God’s loving help we will never have to bitterly relearn the lessons of WW II in our own age!
See you at worship this Fifth Sunday of Easter!