Do you remember the old camp song called They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love? Can you hum the tune? The song has a line about walking hand-in-hand as a symbol of our united love and service to the world. I love that song. But it always challenges me to ask “Is it really true? Are we really united in love or are we just out to take care of ourselves?” Our modern culture always intermingles the Advent season with the Christmas experience. In fact, for many people Advent and Christmas are one and the same. But the two experiences are actually quite different even though they are intimately related. Our reading for today teaches us about the glory of God and the pain of denial. The focus of the passage starts by being centered on the nature of Jesus and closes with an emphasis on the frailty of humanity that is symbolically represented by our old friend Peter. But right in the center is a key teaching that connects Advent and Christmas into one unified package that is punctuated with a commandment: Love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another. I believe the world is waiting for something special to happen. They may not wrap their waiting in the royal colors of Advent, but they are waiting. In a very real way, many are waiting for people of faith to come together around the hope of Christ so the world can really be a better place. They may not say it that way but I believe people in general would love to see people of faith rise up to live in alignment with the principles of Scripture. I know that is not the case for everyone. There will always be folks who love to celebrate the rooster crowing and the failure of the Christian community. But there are many more who want the goodness of God to shine through his people so they could feel comfortable joining the movement. Friends, today is a day to shine the light of the Lord!
The New Commandment When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.