Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Monday, May 13, 2019

By This they will Know.

Last week here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian we celebrated Mother's Day and focused on how the love our of parents has nurtured our lives. Our sermon (and a song) from the day can be found here.

The words that Jesus speaks to us are always challenging. He teaches us a higher way, and calls us to raise our standards beyond our limitations. Yet interestingly, He gives us very few commandments. When He does, He gives the most challenging of all. “Love one another; just as I have loved you, you must also love one another” (John 13:34)

Reflecting on this “New Commandment” Father Donal Neary reflects: “How do we know if we are true followers of Jesus? Is it a long time at prayer, obeying a lot of rules, fasting and alms giving? Sometimes, but the real test is in the few lines of today’s gospel, about loving one another. Love is the mark of a disciple; love that reaches out in compassion, care, listening and service.

Love that influences how I treat the people I meet every day, how I think of other groups like travelers, refugees, asylum-seekers, and any other group of people whose differences causes prejudice. Love is the atmosphere we live in as followers of the Lord.

From that flows the way the Christian community lives and worships. Prayer is a means to love, but not an end in itself. Christian ethics and morality is to be founded in love, and service is to offer help to others in the example of Jesus himself.

One way of growing in love is to be grateful for love in our lives. A prayer each night can be to think back over the day and thank God for love we received in the day, in small and big ways. We can thank God also for love we have been able to offer ourselves to others.”

Pope Francis made the following observation; "The first criterion: to love with deeds, not words. Words are taken away by the wind! The second criterion of concreteness is: in love it is more important to give than to receive. The one who loves, gives to God and to others."

Protestant hymn writer Charles Wesley, gave to the Church one of the great hymns of love in his composition “Love Divine.” The words express the Christian desire that God's love may be birthed in each of our hearts, in order that we may be people who fulfill the new commandment. They make a fitting prayer for all who seek to be disciples that follow the example laid down for them by their Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven to earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble dwelling, All thy faithful mercies crown;
Jesu, thou art all compassion, Pure unbounded love thou art,
Visit us with thy salvation, Enter every trembling heart.”

Here is a version recorded at the “Big Sing” held in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. The tune is “Blaenwern” composed by Welsh hymnwriter W.P.Rowlands .

If you are in the Ellicott City, MD area, join us for worship this coming Sunday at 10:00 am, when we will be taking a look at John 13:31-35 and thinking together about the “New commandment” given us by Jesus.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

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